Dvar Israel: Shabbat, April 13, 2019





The wait is finally over after a very different election day in Israel. This time Netanyahu’s party “Likud” received only one seat more than the opposing party “Kachol Lavan”, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. “Likud” gained 36 seats and “Kachol Lavan” gained 35 seats in the future Knesset. Even if Gantz gained more seats in these elections, Netanyahu would still be the winner of the 2019 elections. Out of 120 seats, the right-wing parties received 65 seats, while the central-left wing parties received 55 seats. In order to form a coalition, the government needs a majority of 61 seats in the Knesset, leaving Netanyahu in the sole position to do so. There was also a shift with the number of seats gained by the smaller parties in the new Knesset. In the previous Knesset, the ultra-orthodox parties had 13 seats. This round, they gained another 3 seats moving them up to 16 seats in the Knesset. A new party called “The United right” or “Ihud Hayamin”, an extremist right-wing party that discriminates against a range of minorities from the LGBTQ community to the Arab society in Israel, gained 5 seats in the new Knesset. In Israel, like in many western countries today, politics seem to be heading toward the right, although not for the same reasons. Sadly, it would seem that the left wing in Israel can not shake the image of weak leadership that waivers in its ability to keep Israel safe and secure. Many in the younger generation were left-wing voters. This generation, our generation, never experienced a war and were therefore not swayed by the left’s ‘reputation’. It would appear that despite the younger generations vote for change, the majority of the country voted with the right. The older generations can not forget the rise in security issues, terror attacks and wars when the left parties last led the government, corresponding with the second Intifada.


It’s undeniable that Bibi and his right-wing governments established a more stable, long-lasting security in Israel over the past 10 years. But there are many other equally critical issues that have yet to be addressed, and we can’t disregard them either. People are still being treated in the corridors of hospitals due to overcrowding, young couples can't afford to buy a home anywhere in Israel, classes are still packed with 40 students in each classroom, Holocaust survivors and others are living in poverty and on the streets, same-sex couples are banned from having children, bodies of missing soldiers are still being held captive and the differences between the socio-economic classes is only growing. Good things were done under the right wing, but all we can think about is the worldwide trend that we see in countries like the USA, Poland, France and England. It would appear it has also arrived in Israel.


These elections were also very interesting when we examine how different areas of the country voted. In Yael’s moshav, which is located in the more northern area of Israel, most of the people voted for “Kahol Lavan” and more left-wing parties. In the city just next to it, Or Akiva, an area with people living in lower socio-economic situations, residents mostly voted for “Likud” and other right winged parties. In more central areas of Israel, such as Omri’s home town of Herzliya, Israelis mostly voted for the left. The people of Sderot and other kibbutzim in the areas surrounding Gaza, who were vocal in their complaints that Netanyahu’s government failed to provide them with a peaceful and secure place to live, still voted him back into government.  The residents of Ofakim, living in south-central Israel, who have a very high rate of unemployment also complained that Netanyahu's’ government failed to create more jobs in their city, and their citizens also did not vote for change. Binyamin Netanyahu will now be the longest-serving prime minister in Israel, surpassing even the first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. We have asked you the question before. And despite the results of the 2019 elections we still ask. What would Israel look like without him? We will have to wait a while longer for that answer. Shabbat Shalom.

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