BIBI THE PEACENIK?
By Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
The Jewish Press
August 2nd, 2013
Sharon turned on backers and expelled Jews from Gaza. Bibi frees terrorists and chases surrender. A new poll shows his star soaring and Lapid’s dropping. Bibi the “peacenik?” A new poll has surprised observers and shows that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has soared past its current strength while Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has taken a nosedive in popularity. Labor also is suddenly more popular.
The Smith surveying company carried out the poll for the Globes business newspaper, which reported, “The resumption of the peace talks with the Palestinians is benefiting the Likud, restoring its political fortunes after a long slide.” Polls themselves can be inaccurate, (Let us pray) cause and effect are not necessarily obvious, and the public, especially the Israeli public, can be very fickle.
But the bottom line is that Netanyahu is solidly up front, perhaps reflecting the public’s feeling of less uncertainty in the short term, regardless of the incredible gamble Netanyahu has taken for the long term. No one knew what was going on inside Ariel Sharon’s mind when he flabbergasted the public and turned traitor to the Likud’s own policy platform by carrying out the removal of all Israeli civilians and soldiers from Gaza, even at the expense of bolting the Likud and forming the Kadima party.
Critics assume that he did so to make a bundle for him and a friend by establishing a casino in northern Gaza, which never got off the drawing boards. However, when people get older, especially when they are in a position of power, their egos do strange things to the brain. Perhaps they want their place in history, or perhaps they think they have one last chance in life to save the world. The same may not be true for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will be 64 in October, but the fact is that in the past three years, he has turned from Mr. Hawk to almost Mr. Dove, constantly caving in to pressure from President Obama.
Whether the White House is offering him something in return concerning Iran is conjecture, but Netanyahu’s capitulation — freeing terrorists and chasing surrender — is reminiscent of Yitzchak Rabin’s. He once promised he would never shake the hand of Yasser Arafat, but Rabin ended up signing a peace agreement with him. Globes noted that Netanyahu sat twice this week in the Knesset cafeteria, where journalists and Cabinet ministers mingle, after appearing there only once in the previous four years.
Apparently, the man feels more comfortable with journalists now that he has indicated he is willing to toy with the left-wing media’s agenda. It would take an earthquake or two to make a Netanyahu a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, but for the time being, he would be happy to settle for a more comfortable position in the coalition government. The latest poll proves that Netanyahu has made mincemeat out of Lapid and left Bennett with just about the same support he had.
The national religious crowd, like Shas, always goes to bat for its own leader, but the team never is able to fill the empty bleacher seats with more enthusiasts. On the surface, the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was the major event this week that might have changed the Likud’s and Yesh Atid’s fortunes in the poll.
Lapid is increasingly being seen by his supporters as having reneged on his promises to help the middle class and is being throwing into the same ”capitalist” class as Netanyahu. That would explain why respondents in the poll dumped Lapid and gave Labor, headed by Shelly Yachimovich, a whopping 18 seats, five more than it holds in the current Knesset.
Rounding out the list, Meretz continues to gain strength adding one more projected seat to come up 10 Knesset members, four more than now, Shas is making a comeback to its present strength of 11 seats, Naftalli Bennett’s Jewish Home party picks up one more for 13 mandates, and Tzipi Livni is languishing with three seats, half her party’s current strength. She is not getting any Brownie points for being Netanyahu’s errand girl. Last is the polls is Shaul Mofaz’s Kadima, which would go into its well-deserved political graveyard and be shut out of the next Knesset.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.