Friday, June 4, 2021

A Stolen Election?

It's fascinating. The people who believe that Bennett has no right to be prime minister (since Likud has the most seats) are the exact same people who believe that Trump had every right to be declared winner of the 2016 election even though he had three million fewer votes than Hillary.

When I posted this insight on Facebook this morning, a lot of people protested the comparison. I'd like to address the arguments:

1. "The US has an electoral college! The popular vote is irrelevant!"

Yes. And Israel has a system in which whoever manages to put together a coalition of 61 MKs becomes prime minister. The popular vote is likewise irrelevant.

2. "Okay, so it's legal. But it's not right for someone to be prime minister with only a handful of supporters!"

When you are measuring the support for Bennett as prime minister, what do you take as the alternative? If you were to take a poll as to how many people in the country would prefer Bennett becoming prime minister to further rounds of elections, you would probably find that a very lot of people - likely even the majority - are happy with what Bennett did.

3. "But Bennett has no moral right to betray his voters!"

Bennett, like all politicians, made many promises. It became impossible to fulfill all of them, since circumstances made some of them mutually exclusive. Bennett promised not to sit in a government with Lapid as prime minister or to become prime minister with a small party or to rely on the support of Arabs. But he also emphatically promised that he would do everything possible to prevent yet another round of elections (which are an absolute disaster for the country, and which would not result in a right-wing majority), and he also said on many occasions that he's willing to sit with anyone. Voters who listened carefully realized that the latter promises were more important than the former ones. Yes, he broke some promises, but had he not taken this path, he would have been breaking bigger promises. As someone who voted for Bennett and paid careful attention to what he said, I would have felt betrayed had he not taken this path. Many other Yamina voters feel the same way.

4. "But I voted for Bennett and I feel betrayed!"

I'm sorry for you. But you have to accept that things don't happen the way that you ideally prefer. There was never going to be a scenario with Bibi as prime minister of a right-wing coalition. That was tried and failed, again and again. It was this, or endless elections. Bennett made the best decision that he could, under the circumstances.

Did you know that the IDF is unprepared for a conflict with Iran, because the air force is obsolete (the majority of the IAF’s aircraft are between 30 to 50 years old), and it's been impossible to implement the critical multi-year upgrade plan because there has not been a government to pass a budget? The electoral impasse was a grave threat to national security. Bennett is saving us from that.

5. "The system is so messed up!"

Yes, it is. But Bennett's actions are fixing the biggest mess, which is that the system can get stuck in endless rounds of elections, with no budget being passed, and the country being paralyzed. (Of course, it could all have been avoided had Bibi stepped down as leader of the Likud. But Bibi would never sacrifice his political career for the country's welfare.)

39 comments:


  1. Couldn't agree more.

    I voted for Bennet as I thought he was the best candidate to prevent a 5th round of elections, and he is doing exactly what I hoped he would do when I voted for him.

    No idea how long this government will last (or even if it will be sworn in), but Kudos to Bennet for going the extra mile to bring the country out of Groundhog day.

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  2. Yup. Bennett said about 10000 times he is not exclusively committed to one camp or the other. That's the exact reason I voted for Saar.

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  3. People often hear what they want to hear. Bennet was pretty clear that he was going to recommend himself for PM. He was clear that Bibi didnt automatically get his vote. Bennet recommended himself twice to the president.
    Yes, bennet made many promises, and many of them are contradicting. But anyone who voted for bennet and ignored his comments that he was going to endorse himself, and wrote it off as a promise that wouldn't be kept, has already made peace with lying politicians, as long as it's in their favor. So they should cut the morality of it out.

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  4. The main issue here is whether the majority of his voters are supportive of his actions. It appears that most are not. in that case he betrayed his voters or at least wasn't clear enough of his intentions. This is morally wrong in my opinion and also undemocratic. Your point about the IDF being unprepared etc is also irrelevant as all dictators also claim they understand better. Democracies are not perfect but they are the best way of governing.

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    1. This is not a direct democracy. This is a republic. The concept is you vote for someone whom you think will make correct decisions for you. It is not undemocratic for a representative to make a decision that they believe is correct against a public opinion that is at most a snapshot in time.

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    2. Correct. He put the perceived interests of his country above the interests of his voters. That's the right thing to do. But it implies be thinks his voters are fundamentally wrong about what the interests of the country are, and that his entire relationship with them was based on a deliberate misrepresentation to his own electorate of his own views.

      I don't think the next election (which I predict will be held at the latest by June 2022) will go well for Mr Bennett.

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    3. To put it bluntly, "majority of ... voters" are not only stupid but also selfish.

      But, as you (and Winston Churchill) said, "Democracies are not perfect but they are the best way of governing".

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  5. Would a complete separation of the executive and legislative elections provide some stability? Not the quasi-separation that was tried in the 90s, but complete separation where there is an election for Knesset that can continue as is done now and an election for the executive, whatever the title would be. Winning the executive election would entitle the candidate to serve the full duration of a term with no need to secure a coalition in Knesset for approval of completing the term.

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    1. "and an election for the executive, whatever the title would be"

      - Grand Poobah
      - High Muckety Muck
      - The Dude
      - The Mayor of Terminus
      - Emperor

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  6. It's not legitimate to join forces with a branch of the Muslim brotherhood, I wonder if your dislike for chareidim overrides your love of Israel.

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    1. Are you admitting that Israel is apartheid, or did you not think of the consequences of your words?

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    2. You did not read his comment carefully. He did not say it is illegitimate to join with Muslims, or Arabs for that matter. He was specifically referring to joining forces with the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

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  7. Bennett's actions have not fixed any mess. It just pushed it to a later time. When they will get to deal with the practical issues other than getting rid of Bibi, the coalition will fall apart unless they all will be willing to sacrifice their ideology (if any). The real way of un-messing it would be a direct election of PM.

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    1. Bennett's actions may finally get the rest of the right-wing parties to stop recommending Bibi as an autonomous reflex.

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    2. Why not if majority supports Bibi?

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  8. "Democracy" is showing the destruction it brings upon societies. As in the U.S.A. its self destructing.
    Ssvi

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    1. What form of gov't would you propose as the alternative to "democracy"?

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    2. One based on meritocracy. The most qualified should be the one(s) who makes the decisions balanced by Torah Hachamim who can and would put (him) (them) in check.
      Today's "Democracy" is a weak and pathetic system. It comes down to (few) people with $$$ influencing simple minded people who vote the way they want for their benefit.
      Democracy is self destructive, like Communism, Fascism and other ism's its bound to fall and destroy itself from within. Look what's happening in America today. And when the people don't even want someone they will and do import new voters from other countries to get more votes for themselves.

      Ssvi

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    3. Anonymous: And who decides who is the most qualified? If you say "the rabbis," who decides which rabbis? We all want the most qualified people making the decisions, but I doubt you'll find a significant percentage of the population agreeing on who those are.

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    4. DG - that's a circular argument. Why would we care what a 'significant percentage of the population agree' on if we don't believe in the mob rule of democracy?

      I personally think democracy is a disaster, no less than monarchy and feudalism and others that preceded it. But I have no other option so far. That is Moshiach's job.

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    5. I've seen the Rabbanut, I've seen R' Kanievsky's and other rabbis horrible leadership during Covid, I've seen the entire Haredi world decide that productive employment and rules are not their thing. I'll take democracy over that pile of insanity any day.

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  9. Israel should reform its political system to eliminate the need for a coalition at all.

    Step 1) hold an election for the Knesset

    2) have a set number of ministerial posts, far fewer than they have now (a lot of them were created just to get parties into a coalition)

    3) the Knesset as a whole votes for who they would like to fill each ministerial position, including prime minister, using ranked choice voting or runoffs

    And there you have a functioning government in place. Individual Knesset members are free to vote however they want on any particular issue. Not perfect, but better than what they have now.

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  10. So Bennett made enough promises and hints to allow him to do whatever he chooses and and claim that that was in his election platform all alone, if you payed attention. And the Sura council will replace the Moetzes Gedolei HaTora and the the Council of the Torah Sages as the clerical organization controlling the government? And his voters, if they paid attention, should have known it all alone? Israeli election and government system is hopeless. This government will be a disaster. אין תקווה ואין עתיד.

    Incidentally, Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, Syria and many other countries. How truly stupid and corrupt are the Jews to bring them into the government.

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  11. It absolutely mystifies me how committed people are to their own "narrative". It should be obvious to any thinking person that the endless cycle of indeterminate elections benefits no one but Netanyahu (by preventing his ouster from power), and certainly not the country at large.

    Even if you like Netanyahu and his policies, reality has proven that he is unable to form a stable gov't. And even if Bennett promised (or his voters expected) X or Y, reality has necessitated compromise.

    Even if Netanyahu voters or Bennett voters (or Hillary voters or Trump voters...) wish that reality were otherwise, why would they expect that reality would bend to their whims and get upset when it doesn't?

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  12. As ususal you put it very well. Netanyahu (and Saar) could each have avoided this government by doing the right thing. Under the circumstances Bennett should be commended.

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  13. Full disclosure: I voted for Smotrich, and would never consider voting for a party headed by Bennett (I voted for gimmel in the first elections because of that), so I can't really claim to be betrayed as this is what I always expected of him. But nevertheless, I don't get your double standard. Mansour Abbas was quoted as saying to Yoav Ben Tzur of Shas, "What you haven't achieved in all your years, we managed to do in one in negotiation - 50 billion shekels - that's 50 years of the Taktziv Hayeshivot." Are you really okay with this? If this were money that went to chareidim, you would complain endlessly about extortion, the looming disaster facing Israel, etc. But when it's money going to Arabs, who - in addition to not serving in the IDF and demanding exemptions from Israel's laws for themselves (see: Kaminetz Law) - loathe the state, all we hear from you is a resounding silence.

    In your last post you insisted on calling the chareidi parties anti-Zionist and claimed that the "change government" would have more Zionist MKs in in than most orevious coaltions due to the absence of UTJ and Shas. I'm saddened that you've become so blinded by anti-chareidism as to make a staement like this. For starters, Shas is a member of the WZO. You may not like their politics and ethical standards (or lack thereof) but do you think that Tamar Zandberg is a "frummer" zionist than Chacham Shalom? And even UTJ - is Isawi Frej more zionist to you than Yitzchak Pindrus? How soon can we expect Ra'am MKs to stand for the national anthem, let alone lay a wreath on Yom Hazikaron like Yaakov Litzman did? Even if I were to grant that the clearly post-zionist Meretz is in fact zionist, and that the "zionist-in-every-practical-sense" UTJ is not, your math is off. The previous unity government had 65 Zionist members on officially Zionist lists. The change government is reliant on the four Ra'am MKs for its majority, and will actually *decrease* the amount of Zionists in the government.

    Rabbi Slifkin, I don't know what's come over you. I used to enjoy following your blog. Not every move that is anti-chareidi is something that you should support.

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    1. Money going to Arabs will improve the infrastructure of their neighborhoods and lessen the inequality towards them, which will make them less likely to riot in Lod.

      Money going to charedim will be going to perpetuate the mass kollel system which causes tremendous, ever increasing harm to the charedi community and to the entire country.

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    2. I like your optimism, Rabbi Slifkin, but how do we know money going to Israeli Arabs isn't going to somehow follow similar pathways like foreign aid money to the PA - ie into the pockets of people in power, to buy weapons, and to support families of suicide bombers?

      And are infrastructure inequalities the reason for rioting? Is it not ideology? Interestingly, it was Netanyahu at the Washington DC rally in 2003 who made the point that previous groups of disenfranchised people (US blacks in the 60's, Indians under the British, and members of the former Soviet Union) did not turn to terrorism. He did not say "did not turn to riots" but I think the concept is the same.

      But I hope you are right.

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    3. " how do we know money going to Israeli Arabs isn't going to somehow follow similar pathways like foreign aid money to the PA - ie into the pockets of people in power, to buy weapons, and to support families of suicide bombers"

      This is Israel, not Gaza or Ramallah.

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    4. Did the Arab woman in Lod who pointed out to the mob which cars parked in front of her building belonged to her Jewish neighbors suffer from worse infrastructure than they did? I legitimately can't comprehend this. You're willing to spend time making hasbara memes to defend the IDF bombings high-rises in Gaza but excuse *Lod* as the result of poor infrastructure? This is what Yamina voters have come to in order to defend Bennett's megalomania? כל שנטרפה חכמתו מחמת דעתו סימן רע לא.

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    5. Mr. Opticana: perhaps you don't understand. For many people (Dr. Slifkin among them), an alliance with the Arabs is preferable to conceding anything to their true nemesis - the Haredim and their Yeshivos.

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  14. Trump did win the 2016 and 202 elections and Bennett is 2021. I like Bibi but Bennett is a good choice for Israel.

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  15. Money going to Arabs will improve the infrastructure of their neighborhoods and lessen the inequality towards them, which will make them less likely to riot in Lod.

    Money going to charedim will be going to perpetuate the mass kollel system which causes tremendous, ever increasing harm to the charedi community and to the entire country.


    רחמן לאכזרים, ואכזרי לרחמנים.

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  16. Slifkin is sick in the head. He enjoys going on about psychology of the mind when it comes to other people but he doesnt see that his ego was hurt by chareidim since as a 24 year old little nothing he thought he was smarter than gedolim. So ever since then he’s been on a tirade against ultra orthodox Don’t get fooled by him the man has a bigger ego than anyone

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    1. Kudos to Dr Slifkin for allowing personally abusive posts
      to get through

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  17. Netanyahu thinks he can use American buzzwords to deceive the Israeli population. Israel might have issues with box-stuffing or vandalized ballots, but the mechanisms for fraud don't exist in Israel like they do in the USA.

    What do you think Netanyahu and his allies in Shas and UTJ would find if he tried to call for an audit, like is happening in Arizona?

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  18. I would put posts such as this one in a time capsule, wait a couple of years, take them out, re-read them and see what we think of them then. Think it would be interesting.

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  19. Nobody denied that Trump won the 2016 election (even though many disliked the result and sought ways to delegitimize him). So I'm really not sure what your opening statement is supposed to highlight. Unless you meant to refer to the 2020 election?

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  20. Bennett new very very well that his promises were contradictory and SO HE CLARIFIED: He went ahead and publicly signed a document that he would not make a govt. with Lapid as PM "under any constellation or under any circumstance." Thus, GIVEN A CHOICE OF WHICH PROMISE TO BREAK, IT WILL BE NO FIFTH ELECTION. He knows he will get obliterated in a fifth election (wonder why if his voters understood him so well) so he took this turn.

    He a rotten snake.

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