The Israelis prove they are no different from the rest of the world – indulge in their own “entitlements” (freebies), while they enable their own self-destruction, refusing to acknowledge that their only hope of survival is their military strength.
The freebies they get from ISIS or Iran or Saudi Arabia when its own crisis is over, will not quite approach what they get in their own country and … may G-d have mercy on their souls. Over two thousand years of exile has taught them nothing.
Jerome S. Kaufman
Netanyahu Slips in Polls Days Before Israeli Elections
Labor Party Leader Herzog Benefits from Perception That Prime Minister is Not Focused on Economy
By Joshua Mitnick
The Wall Street Journal
March 11, 2015
TEL AVIV—Less than a week before Israel’s general elections, the party of incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu has begun to fall behind an opponent who promises to restart talks with Palestinians and smooth the prime minister’s notoriously rocky relations with the White House.
Two polls on Wednesday put Isaac Herzog, leader of the dovish Labor Party, slightly ahead and suggest that support for Mr. Netanyahu and his Likud party among working-class Jews has eroded because of their widespread perception that he has focused on nuclear threats from Iran and extremist Muslims at the expense of economic problems.
“He’s talking about something that isn’t relevant—Iran and ISIS,’’ (Not relevant! How stupid can you get?) said Avi Biton, owner of a snack bar and a Likud voter in previous elections. “Today my kids don’t have the ability to settle down and buy a house. If they can’t do that, this country has no reason to exist.”
Polls by Israel Army Radio and the daily Haaretz released on Wednesday showed Mr. Herzog’s Zionist Union, a new, center-left alliance of the Labor Party with another political faction, winning 24 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, or parliament, to 21 for Likud party. A survey on Tuesday by Channel 2 television showed Zionist Union picking up 25 seats to Likud’s 21.
The polls show Mr. Netanyahu, who is seeking a fourth term as prime minister, lost support after his speech to Congress last week warning against the terms of a nuclear deal being negotiated between six world powers and Iran. The speech, cheered by Republicans in Congress, angered President Barack Obama. At home, former supporters of the prime minister said they were concerned more about the threat of rising housing prices than the threat of a nuclear Iran. Some retired generals criticized Mr. Netanyahu for alienating Israel’s most important ally.
On March 3, the day of the congressional speech, Labor had a narrower lead over Likud. In early February, polls showed Likud slightly ahead in a race that has always been close. The trend appears to have raised alarm bells within Likud.
“If in the coming days we don’t close the gap between Likud and Labor, there is a genuine risk that Tzipi Livni and Herzog will be the next prime ministers of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu told a gathering of supporters according to the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon. Ms. Livni heads the Ha’tnuah party that joined forces with Labor in the alliance. Mr. Herzog agreed to rotate the prime ministry with her after two years if they win.
If Labor does come out ahead, it would almost certainly offer Mr. Herzog the major advantage of being given the presidential mandate to form a governing coalition supported by a parliamentary majority. Mr. Netanyahu may still be in a better position to form a coalition, while Mr. Herzog would be faced with the difficult task of putting together a majority coalition among many parties that normally clash. At the very least, a result mirroring the current polls could weaken Mr. Netanyahu politically and he would be forced to wait to see if his opponent fails to cobble together a majority.
According to a Channel 2 poll on Tuesday night, Likud and hard-line allies would still control the largest bloc of seats in the parliament, with 44 seats. Labor and one other leftist party would have 30, centrist parties would control 20, and ultra-orthodox and Arab parties each control 13 seats.
A scion of one of Israel’s most prominent political families, Mr. Herzog is promising to reset Israeli-U.S. ties and deal more discreetly with their differences over the Iran nuclear deal. He also pledges to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and make housing prices more affordable. The latter point speaks to what Israelis say is the most important election issue this time around—the high cost of living and other socioeconomic problems.
If Mr. Herzog succeeds in forming a coalition, it would make him the first Israeli leader in 16 years to hail from the Labor Party, which dominated for the first three decades of Israel’s existence and spearheaded peace talks with the Palestinians in the 1990s.
The 54-year-old partner at one of Israel’s leading law firms is the grandson of Israel’s first chief Ashkenazi rabbi. His father Chaim Herzog was a general in Israel’s military and served as Israel’s president and its ambassador to the U.N. His uncle, Abba Eban, was Israel’s foreign minister.
Still, to most Israelis he lacks Mr. Netanyahu’s stage presence, combat history and experience handling national-security issues. Mr. Herzog still faces the daunting challenge of persuading undecided Israeli voters he should be the beneficiary of their dissatisfaction with Mr. Netanyahu. Even for longtime Labor Party supporters such as 63-year-old Nava Rosenberg, this election remains a referendum on Mr. Netanyahu.
Herzog hasn’t inspired the enthusiasm enjoyed by previous leaders of his party such as Yitzhak Rabin or the country’s revered founder, David Ben-Gurion, even among his supporters. He is battling an image as stiff and timid. But he has been aided considerably by joining forces in December with Ms. Livni, a former peace negotiator. Their alliance has helped unite centrist and left-wing Israelis and invigorated Labor’s platform for the first time in years.
“Herzog isn’t strong, he’s not decisive, he doesn’t have the personality to lead the Israeli people to big decisions,’’ she said. “But I hate Bibi, so I’m voting for Herzog. It isn’t because I love Herzog. There is nobody else. (Huh?)
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