Arlene from Israel – It’s Up to Us!

The chances of a right wing victory in tomorrow’s election suddenly seemed far greater after last night’s rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. After a very frustratingly lackadaisical campaign – with an incredibly negative tone, and with polls showing the left ahead – a bubble of hope welled up. Some estimated that there were 100,000 people there. Whether there were 100,000 or 70,000, it was possible so say, “Ah!”

Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rally in Rabin Square Sunday.

I have learned that apparently – for reasons that are not clear to me – leftists vote more consistently than right wing people do. And so I write this final posting before the election to call upon every right wing Israeli citizen of voting age to go out and vote tomorrow. There is always a solemn responsibility to vote. But tomorrow it is particularly important. Especially as there is the possibility of seizing victory at the 11th hour: We cannot win unless we vote, guys.


I am sending this to my regular list, and taking the liberty, as well, of sending it to others who might spread the word.

To those outside of Israel, I ask that you share with all your friends and relatives in Israel. To those in Israel, I ask that you take note, and then share my message with all of your friends and relatives as well.


At the end of this message, I am going to repeat the core of my last posting, which explains how the system works.

Just as I said the last time, I repeat here: In the end, it is not my place to tell anyone how to vote. Each of you must decide. But what I can do is explain that a right wing victory is most likely if Likud garners more mandates than the “Zionist Camp.” Bibi must have the first opportunity to form a coalition or we risk Herzog’s being able to do it. To ensure that Likud has those mandates means voting Likud.

The situation would be very different if Likud were showing a strong lead in the polls. Then voting to the right of Likud, to ensure a strong right flank for Likud, would be almost a reflexive decision for some. But as it is, Likud, which has not been showing a lead in the polls (strong or otherwise), needs a boost now. Something to be considered as you decide how to vote – Likud or to the right of Likud.


One of the things that has been most upsetting about this vile campaign is that a major theme of it, on the left, has been “anyone but Bibi.” No grappling with issues, no positive frame. It has been rather disgusting, and should not be permitted to win the day.

Let’s look at why it MUST be Bibi:

  • The reason it is “anyone but Bibi” is because Bibi is the one who represents the threat to the left. No one else in the current set-up can carry the day on the right except him. And since the thought of a left-wing government headed by Buji Herzog is terrifying, it indeed must be Bibi who is provided with the opportunity to defeat Buji.

Herzog is running on a “two-state” platform. He is eager to start negotiations with the PA – an exercise in insanity – and looks forward to being able to give half of our country away.

Even more distressing is his readiness to bow to Obama on issues of Iran: He expresses “confidence” that Obama can handle matters. Heaven help us.

Stopping him means a strong Bibi.

It is not necessary to think that Bibi is the perfect leader. One can feel discontent with him in one regard or another and still understand that he stands head and shoulders above Buji in terms of doing what’s best for the country.

Providing security for our nation means standing strong. Herzog’s positions would immediately weaken Israel, for Herzog is going for appeasement instead of strength. Our enemies would smell this immediately.

Channel 2’s Middle East expert has already predicted that Iran’s proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, would be likely to test Herzog’s strength very quickly after a Herzog win;

Stopping Buji means a strong Bibi. There is no one else who can fill this role.

  • With regard to Iran, the most significant existential issue of all, there is also the matter of Netanyahu’s stunningly successful talk in Congress earlier this month.

He was hailed incredibly in Congress with one rousing ovation after another; commentators later referred to him as the leader of the free world – the only one ready to stand up and tell the truth about Iran. A time of great pride for Israel, when we are so often the object of delegitimization campaigns.

Does the nation then reject Netanyahu? It would be a huge disservice to him. And the message it would send to the world would be shameful: Yes, our prime minister stood up to Iran as no one else, but we are prepared to dump him now for someone who can appease Obama.

This would not only be a terrible message to deliver, it would mean that the single voice speaking out against Iran, amongst national leaders, would have been silenced. A disservice to the free world.

  • Then we come to the matter of reports that American funds have been invested in the campaign here in order to bring Bibi down. The matter is serious enough so that the Senate is now going to look into it, according to Fox News:

”An investigatory bi-partisan panel has been convened in order to probe allegations that the US State Department gave a political group that opposes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taxpayer-funded grants, a source with knowledge of the proceedings told Fox News on Saturday.”

Do we sit still for this? Is this how we want our elections determined? It is imperative to stand strong, with ballots, against a US administration that wants our prime minister out.


As to what I wrote last about our electoral system:

People vote for parties, not for individuals, and the president of Israel plays a key role in what follows after the votes are cast and counted: It is the president who invites the head of one party to attempt to form a governing coalition. As there are 120 seats in the Knesset, the coalition must represent at least 61 of those seats (referred to as mandates).

After the election is completed, it is determined which party received the most mandates. (It has never happened that any one party had at least 61 mandates. A coalition has always been required.) Very often, the president then invites the head of that faction to try to form a coalition. The scuttlebutt now is that this is what President Ruby Rivlin intends to so. It is not necessarily required of him to do this – but it is what we expect to happen, what usually does happen.

(There is yet another step, before he formally selects the person who will attempt to form the coalition: The head of each party comes to visit the president, and indicates which party head he/she prefers to put together the coalition.)


There are only two choices, in terms of whom Rivlin might select – it is either going to be the head of Likud (Netanyahu) or the head of the Zionist Camp (Herzog).


There are those who make the case that what matters is a strong right wing bloc so that you are helping defeat Herzog by voting for Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) or Eli Yeshai’s Yahad party. This would be the case if Likud were solidly ahead of the Zionist Camp in the polls: then there would be a strong case for voting to the right of Likud, to prevent pull in the opposite direction.

And it is certainly the case once a coalition is being formed. Bayit Yehudi and Yahad are natural allies of Likud, and if they are strong, then the right wing bloc is stronger. (This is good because then fewer other parties have to be brought in to make the coalition. When there are more parties, the coalition tends to be weakened because each party has different demands.)

However, there is a “but” here. If Likud does not bring in more mandates than the Zionist Camp in the election, then Netanyahu might not ever have the chance to form a coalition. This is the reality right now.
I say this not because I am opposed to Bayit Yehudi or Yahad. Not at all. But because the Zionist Camp must be defeated.


What must be understood is how complicated the coalition building process is. There are parties that are definitely on the right, such as Bayit Yehudi and Yahad. They are not going with Herzog no matter what. And there are others that are clearly left, such as Meretz (if it even gets enough mandates to get into the Knesset). But there are other parties that will swing either way. Such parties as Shas, or Yesh Atid or Kulanu. Calling themselves “centrist” (I would call them something else), they will go with the coalition that will do the most for them. It’s a sort of political horse-trading: I’ll support your coalition and vote with you, but I want this ministry, or that law passed.

Thus is it the case that the party who has the first opportunity to attempt to form a coalition, has the best chance of bringing in these swing parties.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. Contact:

If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted.

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