In a transparent appeal for right-of-center votes, the left-of-center Blue & White party (B&W) of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid is looking to go Right.
Anyone who reads the Israeli political map and does basic math can see that the Left has virtually no chance of forming the next coalition. If B&W gets 35 seats, as they did in the last election, and even if the Arab voting bloc is included, polls indicate the best result that a left-wing B&W coalition can attain is 55 seats in Israel’s 120 seat parliament, the Knesset.
Therefore, it’s clear to most objective observers that the way to defy the common wisdom is to appeal to the moderately right-of-center voters who normally vote for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. Unlike the more right-wing/religious Zionist voters who are likely to vote for URP, or the Haredi voters, who will vote for UTJ or Shas, the Likud voters are considered susceptible to the tried and true left-of-center strategy: Roll out the Generals!
Dating back to Yitzhak Rabin’s successful campaign with Labor in 1992, the top left-of-center party has always highlighted its generals in order to minimize the focus on its land-surrender based policies. Successive former chiefs-of-staff or other top generals who became prime ministers have included Labor’s Ehud Barak, who fled Lebanon, thereby leaving it for Hezbollah, and who begged PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to take all of Judea and Samaria, as well as the Temple Mount. Barak was followed by Kadima’s Ariel Sharon, who unilaterally expelled 10,000 Jews from Gaza and northern Shomron and destroyed thriving Jewish communities, which were promptly turned into missile-launching pads for Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. All those leaders acquired their votes, not by their wise decision-making, and not by strong right-wing policies, but by their tough right-wing personas, enhanced by campaign photos of the political generals with military garb, helmets, binoculars, and tanks.
The latest reincarnation of this strategy is currently being rolled out by Gantz-Lapid and their Blue and White party. Watch soon for the campaign photos of their former generals turned politicians: Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon, all attired in black leather jackets visiting the troops.
Never mind that Gantz, as military chief, utterly failed in denying the threat from the Hamas tunnels and led Israel to an embarrassing draw with the Gaza terrorist organization in 2014. Never mind that the only new community approved by then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon was the new Arab city, Rawabi, which hovers threateningly over the embattled Israeli community of Ateret in Samaria (the northern part of the so-called West Bank).
Then, of course, there is Gabi Ashkenazi, who as chief-of-staff in 2010, joined then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak in strongly opposing Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was agitating for a significant military strike on Iran’s nuclear program.
No, generals are not necessarily right-wing and not necessarily tough. The ability to give commands and direct a battle doesn’t automatically translate into political courage and Zionist passion. When Israel is being threatened militarily, the leader of Israel must know how to play the diplomatic game, which often necessitates the ability to firmly refuse the cease-fire demands of friends and adversaries alike. In the age of President Donald Trump, who has been remarkably supportive of Israel’s historic rights and strategic needs, an Israeli leader requires the courage to seize the political moment, to assert the Jewish, historic rights in Judea, Samaria, and all of Jerusalem, as well as in the Galilee and the Negev.
Sadly, the Left has failed miserably in recent years in the vital national goals of re-settling the Land of Israel and defeating Israel’s enemies. For those who affirm that Netanyahu has also lacked consistency in those areas, well that’s just one more reason to look at parties to the right of Netanyahu’s Likud for an assertive, unapologetic stand on rebuilding the Land of Israel and defeating Israel’s enemies.
Unless, of course, one is overly impressed with helmets and binoculars.
David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh Israel, is the author of the new book, “Trump and the Jews”. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, established after he and his then three-year-old son were wounded in a terror attack. He can be found at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com or at www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org.