Israeli Election – A View From Afula

The upcoming Israeli election is shaping up to be the most critical since the Oslo accords days of the early 1990’s

An aerial view of Afula, a working class town in the fertile Jezreel Valley.
Copyright: אסף שגיא [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s note: The author of this column, Ronit Levi is what one might call a regular Israeli. The column was originally written in the Hebrew and translated by me. I kept the original wording and pacing of the column, inserting only clarifications on a few items that may not be familiar to non-Israelis. I have marked these clarifications by placing them in parentheses and adding my initials. Please enjoy Ronit’s heartfelt and insightful column; a discerning reader may find some striking similarities between the Israeli political scene and the American one.

It’s election time in Israel. In 54 days, we will all go to the ballot box and decide. My name is Ronit Levi, I am a 49 year-old woman form Afula, and I am a Bibi supporter, as you will see when you keep reading. This election is more important than any we’ve had before. Why? Because it is all about this one man, Benjamin Netanyahu, but it also holds a deeper meaning than just left and right, than making a deal with the Arabs, or not.

This election is about the courts and the legal system, the relations between religion and state, and about our military.

And all of that is wrapped around this one man, Benjamin Netanyahu, his supporters and his opponents.

On one hand is the right side of the political spectrum to which I belong. Sure, we always win the elections, but we never seem to get our policies implemented, because the power centers are all controlled by the left.

The last election in 2015 was a little different. Finally, we managed to form a truly right-wing government and started nibbling at the edges of the left’s power centers; a small nibble at the media, another one at the court system. And then all hell broke loose.

The opposition, which is supposed to oppose the government in the parliament, transferred its fight with the government to the court system. Laws were nullified and so were key appointments.

The Attorney General forced Bibi to give up the ministry of communications (which Netanyahu wanted to keep alongside his portfolio as prime minister – BP) and forced Litzman to become the minister of health (Litzman is the head of the ultra-orthodox Torah Judaism party, which prefers to join the ruling coalition without accepting ministerial responsibility. AG’s move was designed to disallow this arrangement -BP).

Other key appointments, such as the Commissioner of Police, were nullified twice. Every bureaucrat was king and every committee the Lord Himself.

And then Netanyahu became the subject of criminal investigation for receiving positive coverage in the press, something that had never before happened in Israel or any other democracy. (One of the charges against Netanyahu is that he bartered political favors for positive coverage in the walla.co.il news site -BP).

The left and the leftist Israeli media organized demonstrations at the Attorney General’s residence and a mass pressure campaign was brought to bear against him (to make sure that he indicts Netanyahu – BP).

The country was split in two; the margins became center and the center became marginalized.

I still remember the 1992 election, when the right-wing government headed by Itzhak Shamir, one of the most honest politicians Israel had ever known, was brought down by the political manipulator Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a man who was later brought up on serious corruption charges.’

The fall of Shamir’s government gave Israel the Oslo accords with their bloodbath of exploding buses and almost 2,000 Jewish civilian casualties.

And this is precisely why this election is so critical; the right feels that the left is about to steal another election and the left feels that the right is encroaching on their holy of hollies, the courts, the academia, and the press.

;Marginal elements are entering into mainstream politics, there is confusion, fake news, and power struggles aplenty.

The country is awash in open and subliminal propaganda and social media networks are agog.

Politicians are blurring their positions and hiding their true intentions. Old parties are collapsing and new ones are springing up. The general feeling is of a total melee as everyone is fighting everyone else.

In less than two months, the Israeli people will decide who will run the country, but don’t expect peace and tranquility; the struggle for Israel’s soul has only just begun.

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