For your perusal, my latest INTO THE FRAY column:
INTO THE FRAY: Bennett and Bibi’s election boo-boo?
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Given the emerging realities in Israel’s political landscape, the danger to Right-wing incumbency entailed in early elections might well be considerably less than those entailed in postponing them.
It appears this week on the following sites (in alphabetical order):
ISRAELI FRONTLINE: (To be posted)
ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/23085
JERUSALEM HERALD: (To be posted)
JEWISH PRESS: (To be posted)
Several short excerpts:
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry – Robert Burns (1759 – 1796).
The “received wisdom”, as reflected in much of recent press coverage, is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a resounding victory against hawkish Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, in forcing him to back away from his threatened ultimatum to resign and bring down the fragile Likud-led coalition—unless he was appointed Defense Minister
A possible pyrrhic victory?
Indeed, despite the almost ubiquitous opprobrium much of the generally Left-leaning mainstream media harbor for Netanyahu, most pundits could not conceal a scornful smirk in reporting on what was almost universally perceived as a humiliating climb-down by the even more “distasteful” Bennett and his hardline Jewish Home faction…. There is, however, good reason to believe that Netanyahu’s victory may prove to be a pyrrhic one, which could well come back to haunt him.
Netanyahu: The achievements and the animus
…A compelling case can be made for the argument that early elections might just be what are needed to ensure the continued incumbency of Right-wing coalitions and to preempt and prevent the emergence of an effective challenge from the Left….To grasp the rationale behind this alternative caveat, it is necessary to acknowledge the giant shadow Netanyahu himself has cast on Israeli politics—both in terms of the achievements he has attained and the animus he has aroused.
Achievements and animus (cont.)
… despite—indeed, perhaps because of his extraordinary achievements—Netanyahu has aroused fierce, almost visceral, animosity in influential sectors of the Israeli public, particularly by self-anointed “elites” in Israel’s civil society. Although he has been in office for almost a decade, they still view him as an “upstart”, who has inexplicably usurped political power—which they view as their inalienable birthright.
Determined to dislodge him, they are nonplussed by his resolve and resilience, and enraged by their failure to remove him from office—despite the almost insurmountable challenges he facesThere are, therefore, increasing signs of an endeavor to build a “united” anti-Netanyahu, center-Left front, hopefully comprised of virtually all and anyone with sufficient name-recognition to garner votes—whether active politicians … former politicians … or well-known newcomers …Of course it is still far from clear what ideological platform—other than an advanced Bibi-derangement syndrome—would unite such a divergent collection of highly opinionated individuals, and whether they could ever agree who would be “Number One”…and who wouldn’t.
The case for political preemption
However, given the intensity of the anti-Bibi animus, its eventual coalescence should not be dismissed as totally implausible, at least in the short run—i.e. at least long enough to mount a credible challenge for the leadership. Whether it endures for long after that, or whether it breaks up and disappears—as did the once powerful Kadima faction—is irrelevant if it succeeds in unseating Netanyahu or replacing a Right-of-center coalition at the helm of government. By then, the damage done might be incalculable…
There is, thus, a powerful and persuasive case for political preemption—to strike before the “Bibi-derangement syndrome” folks can patch up their differences, marshal their forces, and mobilize their followers. Netanyahu should seriously consider acting on it.