How the usual suspects got it wrong

Yair Lapid, who came in a surprising second in Israel's election

Yair Lapid, who came in a surprising second in Israel’s election

For the past couple of years, the line pushed hard by the American Jewish anti-Zionist Left — the ones that love Israel so much they want to destroy it in order to save it, Peter Beinart, J Street, Thomas L. Friedman, Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Reform Movement, the New Israel Fund, etc. — has been that American Jews have become distanced from Israel because it has moved sharply to the right, abandoning democracy and liberal values, becoming a racist theocracy.

For example, here’s Friedman in December:

Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying. The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. [emphasis in original]

And here is Daniel Sokatch of the New Israel fund just a week ago:

If the polls are correct, on January 22, Israelis will elect the most right-wing government in Israeli history. It is likely to be even more hardline than the current coalition, on whose watch Israel’s relations with the Obama administration soured over disagreements over Iran, Israel’s expanding settlement enterprise, and the moribund peace process.

Oops.

How many times do I have to say it? These idiots do not have a clue about what Israelis think, what their priorities are, and of course how they vote.

This election was anything but a victory for the right wing. The Likud, perhaps in part because of the replacement of some relatively moderate members of its list with those farther to the right, ended up with far fewer seats than predicted. Although the new Bayit Hayehudi party — among those, in Friedman’s words, “who want to annex [parts of] the West Bank” — did remarkably well for its first election, it, too did less well than expected.

The big surprise was the second-place finish of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. Centrist, concerned with social issues — including Haredi draft-avoidance — and the cost of apartments and food. So much for theocracy.

Interestingly — at least, it should be interesting to Sokatch, Friedman, Beinart, et al — there was little discussion during the campaign of “the peace process,” “the occupation” and the “two-state solution” with which they are obsessed. Everybody in Israel, with the exception of the European- and NIF-funded Left, knows that the “peace process” is dead because there is simply no common ground between the Israeli need for security and the Arab desire to destroy Israel.

No, the issues uppermost in their minds are Iran — and here, most Israelis have confidence in Netanyahu — and questions of social and economic policy.

In other words, after survival, Israelis are concerned with how best to improve the functioning of their democracy, how to share the burdens and distribute the benefits of their free society — exactly the areas in which the patronizing liberal American Jews think that they know better than the ‘primitive’ Israelis!

Now that they have been proven wrong, will they shut up? Of course not. But they should. As a person who has lived in Israel and the US, who today is close to children and grandchildren living in Israel and therefore can compare the two systems, I can say that I am far more worried about the future of democracy in the USA than in Israel.

Yes, Israel lives in constant threat of war, but most of its people have better access to good health care than Americans do. Yes, the cost of apartments is astronomical, but I am confident that this will shortly change, while the goal of home ownership is moving farther away for many Americans. And our political process…

My advice to Beinart, Friedman, Jacobs, Sokatch and friends is that they should just leave Israel alone — it is dealing with its problems well enough by itself — and concentrate on fixing things here in the US.

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One Response to “How the usual suspects got it wrong”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is as far as I know a completely accurate description of the Israeli elections. There was no talk about the Peace Process even from the Labor Party.Only Tzipi Livni in a futile effort to make herself ‘relevant’ focused on this. In fact the campaign centered on domestic issues. The vote for Lapid was on that basis. The hope is that he can at last push toward some progress on the ‘fairness’ issue in regard to the Haredim. There are other hopes related to economic and social issues, one of the main ones the non- affordability of home purchase by young people.
    The Leftists you mention who have been denigrating Israel and expected to denigrate it further will take a pause before beginning the denigration again. But they will soon be labeling Lapid an enemy of Peace.