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My Two Cents on the Israeli Elections
The other day someone actually asked me to give them a brief guide to the coming Israel elections. So here it is, from my perspective - which is no more authoritative than anyone else's:
I'm assuming that people here are interested about the wellbeing and security of the State of Israel. If you don't care about that, then you're either voting Zehut (if you care about drugs, and are willing to join any coalition to get them) or UTJ (if you only care about getting money for yeshivos, and are willing to sell Israel's security for it).
I'm also assuming that most people here realize, as most Israelis have come to realize, that the left-wing parties have shown themselves to have a woefully mistaken approach to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. There is no such thing as real peace with the Palestinians in any foreseeable future. And one can only look back and laugh bitterly at the numerous politicians and army officers who claimed that the Gaza disengagement would bring security, and that if any missiles would be launched, the IDF would flatten Gaza with full international support. The fact is that as terrible as the current situation with Judea and Samaria is, there are no significant alternatives at the moment that are any better.
Now, some people think that Blue-and-White, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, are the New Messiahs, insofar as they are Not Bibi. Personally, I think that it's absurd to think that Gantz, a person with absolutely zero experience in politics, is remotely suitable for a job that requires great political acumen and experience. And while Lapid originally seemed promising, more recently he seems to be a shallow hack just seeking popularity.
Bayit Yehudi - a party that I supported in the previous election, and which I support in municipal politics - lost my support when they continued to rally around Rav Druckman as their spiritual leader, despite his support of serial abuser Motti Elon and refusal to apologize for such support. Ironically, they tried to crush the criticism of Rav Druckman by telling people that it would harm Bayit Yehudi; they didn't realize that in this day and age, it's precisely that sort of cover-up which loses support.
Zehut seems to be very popular with several people in my neighborhood. Actually, it's the very popularity of it with certain notorious anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists that rang alarm bells for me. Looking into it more, I think that most Zehut supporters have not given serious thought to the ramifications of Zehut's platform, which, practically speaking, calls for all-out war against the Palestinians, the entire Arab world, and making even many staunch defenders of Israel (including religious Jews) renounce their support. Not to mention the fact that Zehut refuses to commit to supporting Bibi for prime minister, and is open to endorsing Gantz/Lapid.
So, there's Likud. It's a mainstream party with some excellent people that stands for Israel's security. And however much one is repulsed by Bibi (and I must say that as a former fan, I have been very disappointed by his egotism over the last few years), the fact is that he is incredibly savvy and has successfully led Israel to economic prosperity and relative security in a very, very difficult climate.
I was therefore considering voting Likud. Still, Likud sometimes gets weak at the knees, and occasionally leans a lot more left than one would expect from its ideology. It needs propping up from the right. Yemin HaChadash - the breakaway from Bayit Yehudi, led by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked - seems to fill that role best. As one person said, Yemin HaChadash is Likud's ideology actually put into practice.
Now, some people are claiming that it's dangerous not to vote for Likud, because if Blue-and-White ends up being the largest party, then President Rivlin might ask Ganz to form a coalition. That seems to be unrealistic fearmongering, for two reasons. First, it doesn't look like they will be the largest party. Second, even if they are, there are not enough other parties that will endorse Ganz/Lapid as prime minister - Bibi is ahead by around ten to fifteen seats. It seems much better to vote for Yemin HaChadash, and make it more likely that Bibi will form a coalition with right-wing parties than with Blue-and-White.
There, that's my take on things. Unlike with hyraxes and rationalism and firmaments, I speak with no particular expertise. Feel free to disagree! Meanwhile, here's a link to a very useful unofficial FAQ that someone prepared about Yemin HaChadash.