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December 10, 2008: Lo Yafeh

December 10, 2008

It’s not nice, not seemly. And that’s a bit of an understatement. Head of Likud Binyamin Netanyahu, unhappy about the victory in the primary of right wing candidates, is attempting to do something about it.

Netanyahu has sent his former aide, Ophir Akunis, to petition the Likud’s internal court regarding the order of the list. The request is being made that those elected in slots reserved for districts and specific groups — such as immigrants and women — be moved up on the list, which would have the effect of moving Feiglin and some others who ran on the national list down.

Is this legal? Is the Likud court likely to be receptive to this petition? I have no idea. What I do think is that it’s inappropriate and lacking in ethics. What’s done is done. He’s trying to undo what has been put in place by a list publicized and then voted upon.


I know all of the reasons being offered as to why Netanyahu thinks he has to do this: That he needs a centrist image in order to win big, and without that big win he cannot accomplish what he hopes to accomplish. The question, then, is precisely what is it he hopes to accomplish if he won’t align himself with rightists within his own party. Netanyahu rushed yesterday to say he’d do his best to form a unity government if he becomes prime minister. A unity government would freeze us.

It’s also being said that old-time Likud people such as Silvan Shalom and Limor Livnot are “furious” that they didn’t do better on the list. To which I say, “tough.” Netanyahu is trying to give them a boost, post-primary.


While the over-riding concern expressed about the list is that it will cause a drop in Likud popularity, that’s not necessarily the case at all. A poll, by Haaretz-Dialog, done after the primary results were announced, gave Likud two more mandates than it had before: up from 34 to 36. Another poll, by Yediot Ahronot, shows a drop of one mandate for Likud, but also shows a drop of two mandates for Kadima.

There is also some finger pointing within the party regarding whose “fault” it is that Feiglin won. If only it hadn’t been so obvious that Netanyahu didn’t want him, goes the argument, Feiglin’s supporters wouldn’t have come out in such strength. What astonishes me is that those pointing their fingers are not considering the possibility that the members of Likud are really fed up and ready for a change.

People right of center who might have voted this list — especially as the Jewish Home party (a merger of National Union and NRP) isn’t getting its act together — may decide otherwise if Netanyahu has his way.


When speculating on how the nation might vote, Netanyahu would do well to consider his image, with regard to trustworthiness and respect for democratic process. Right now what Likud has going for it is the great list that was elected. He should pay this heed.


Oh joy! The rumors are apparently true. President-elect Obama, in a Chicago Tribune interview, says he intends to give a “major address” in an Islamic capital shortly after being elected. The scuttlebutt has it that this capital would be Cairo, but there’s nothing firm on this.

He’s interested, he says, in “rebooting American’s image,” in particular in the Muslim world. While he says he will not shrink from the battle against terrorism, he has an “unrelenting” desire to “create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of good will who want their citizens and ours to prosper together.”

Well, this sounds lovely, but suggests to me more of the naiveté on his part I’ve seen evidence of already. I would sincerely like to know which Muslim countries he believes are interested in “mutual respect” with the US and have citizens who want to prosper together with American citizens.

My fear is that his eagerness to create these new relationships will result in an even more political correct stance, in which Islamic radicalism cannot even be named as the source of worldwide terrorism, and the American government bends over backward to give Arabs the benefit of the doubt. The simple truth is that the major Arab nations that are generally labeled “moderate” — Saudi Arabia and Egypt — routinely undercut US interests. Saudi Arabia is a blatant purveyor of terrorism. Egypt has promoted Hamas, turning a blind eye to the smuggling of weapons — which they are perfectly capable of stopping — for terrorist use into Gaza.

And precisely what do you imagine will be Obama’s stance with regard to support for Israel, if he is courting better relationships with Arabs hostile to Israel? Are those who have been optimistic about Obama’s commitment to Israel quite as sure now as they were?


Two senior research associates for the Institute for National Security Studies have written an article about dealing with Iran. I turn to it here in relation to Obama — who has expressed readiness to talk to Iran too. Ephraim Asculai and Emily Landau say that negotiations with Iran must be proceeded by strong economic measures and credible military threats. The Iranians must be pushed into taking the negotiations seriously, understanding full well what the alternatives are, or else they will simply use talk as a stalling tactic while continuing nuclear development.

Is Obama tough enough to makethose credible military threats and to carry through as necessary?




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