Assumptions: This guide takes into account the following assumptions
1. You believe Jews are entitled to a State of their own, which can be first and foremost, Jewish. That means the official character of Israel will be first and foremost, Jewish. How exactly that synthesizes with “Democratic” is a daily challenge for Israel.
2. You believe in justice. Crime does not pay, criminals are not rewarded for criminal behavior and letting criminals go free without having paid their debt to society is unjust and immoral. The same should apply to terrorism.
3. You believe in Israel’s historical right to living in the land of Israel. If you think Israel should be in Uganda, or that Israel’s does not historically have the right to be in this region of the world, this guide is not for you.
My first election year in Israel after moving here was in 1992.
I clearly remember a Shabbat lunch in 1991 with previous Minister of Finance, Moshe Nissim (Likud) who was sure the Likud would win in the 92 election. When I asked about the future of settlements in YESHA (West Bank and Gaza), he replied that they would exist forever. I said, “what if the left wing wins?” He replied that Israel was balanced between left and right, and settlements would always continue.
Less than a year later, the election came around. The intifada was mostly over except for occasional stabbing terror attacks. Israelis routinely shopped in the “West Bank” Arab cities of Beit-Lechem, Ramalla, Kalkilya, and Jenin. Israel’s intelligence services estimated that terrorists had less than 20 semi automatic weapons in the entire West Bank.
The election commercials from Meretz were “news broadcasts from the future”, that went something like this: “Today is yet another wonderful day in Israel. There are no traffic jams anywhere in Israel since Israel stopped building superhighways for settlers in the occupied territories, and invested all that money in pre-1967 Israel roads, education has never been better since Israel has earmarked all funding away from settlements to Israel’s schools, and our quality of life has never been higher, since we no longer need a huge military budget to keep the IDF occupying the territories. The weather is perfect as well. If you vote Meretz, this will not be a dream, but our future.”
Despite there being more right wing voters, the left won the election, and within months the green line reappeared, guns, ammunition and terrorists flowed into Gaza and the West Bank, and the worst terror attacks Israel had ever experienced started – suicide bomber explosions. Settlers were demonized, ostracized as crybabies, and the root of all of Israel’s problems. Rabin, Israel’s Prime Minister openly declared that he was only Prime Minister of 98% of the country…and the Oslo Accords were in full bloom.
Fast Forward to today.
Most pollsters will not outright predict a win for the Likud over Kadima and the margin of error makes it to close to call.
Therefore, in the upcoming election, I will be voting for the Likud.
Yes, it's not simple for me to state that outright -- as my background is Bnei Akiva, Orange, Gush Katif, Mafdal, Ichud Leumi, and even a bit of Aguda. I view myself as a die-hard supporter of Eretz Yisrael, and am firmly against the idea of a Palestinian State, let alone territorial compromise. I abhor post-Zionism, and despite the horrors of Oslo, the Disengagement, Amona and the continued maltreatment of the Gush Katif refugees, I am not anti-mamlachti or anti-IDF, though my views are far more pareve these days on the "intrinsic kedusha (holiness)" of Israel's government that the mamlachtim advocate.
My big fear is that the 2008 election will be similar to the 1992 election. In 92 there were more right wing voters than left-wing, yet we woke up with Rabin, Beilin and Peres running the country, leading us down the path of Oslo.
Due to the multiple flaws in Israel's electoral system, Yisrael Beiteinu is currently taking votes away from the Likud, weakening it on a daily basis to the point that the next government may not even be led by Netanyahu, but by Livni. I am not a fan or supporter of Netanyahu, but I am a bigger opponent of Tzippi Livni. With the current polls they way they are, I feel that the only option available is to vote for the Likud, so that Netanyahu is going to be the one forming the next government. Every vote for Leiberman's Yisrael Beitinu is a vote against the Likud, and reduces the possibility that the Likud will form the next government.
I see no value for voting for the Ichud Leumi or Bayit Yehudi in the upcoming election, if Livni is the one forming the government. If Kadima forms the government, there is a guaranteed plan in place for the expulsion of at least an additional 60,000 Jews from their homes in Yehuda and Shomron, and we'll probably lose the Golan.
Could this happen under the Likud? Perhaps. Yet when comparing options, at the end of the day, do we want a guaranteed plan for expulsion under Kadima or a possible option under Likud? While my heart wants to vote for the parties that are ideologically closest to me, my head reminds me that feeling good about my vote will not help in the slightest if Kadima wins the election.
The only flaw to my reasoning above is as follows: if votes are lost because the Ichud Leumi or Bayit Yehudi do not pass the achuz hachasima, then its possible that even if Likud does win, the coalition will still be center-left. Yet there is a limited amount of responsibility I can take for solving all of Am Yisrael's problems. Voting Likud means there will be an excellent majority within the Likud who think like we do, and gives us the best chance that the Likud will form the next government.
Religious Jews do not yet make up a majority of the IDF, nor do they make up a majority of any party that can lead the country. Minority parties will always be just that -- the minority.
Narrow sectoralism -- viewing everything through the prism of what is good "for your own interests" may garner results and perks for a particular sector, but are lost in the court of Israel's public opinion, creating fractured divisiveness on the scale of a colossal Chilul Hashem (Desecration of G-d's name).
Are the perks that Shas get for their yeshivot really worth the vicious, hateful response of everyone else? Are the results of additional settlement outposts really worthwhile on the grand scale, if viewed by Israel's public as a benefit solely for the "settlers" and the exclusive result of Ichud Leumi's lobbying? If these policies came from the Likud, as part of their platform, they would be much more accepted by Israel's public.
While the founders of Israel may have thought our parliamentary system would be a good method to enable multisectoral representation, the result has been a failure, especially for the right wing. The bitter politics of Israel over the past 16 years have proven that sectoral representation is fracturous to Israel, and the pro-Eretz Yisrael people have lost the most. The clichéd "we haven't settle in their hearts" slogan simply means we have only settled in our own right wing cacoonish parties, with close to zero representation where it really counts, in the large leadership parties, if we are ever going to lead Israel.
Only by getting more "orange" people into the Likud will we ever have a chance to lead this country. Only through a large, mainstream party will we ever be able to lead. There will never be a Prime Minister from the Mafdal or Ichud Leumi, because they are a sectoral, narrow-issue parties.
If Ichud Leumi and Bayit HaYehudi magically got 15 seats between them, and Kadima beats Likud by 1 vote, then your entire argument is pointless. Livni will be the next Prime Minister, and the net effect of Ichud Leumi or Bayit Hayehudi on Livni's policies will be zero.
While I despise Netanyahu's spineless (or self-centered) views on Eretz Yisrael, he is still the lesser of the evils, and our only chance to possibly retain any territory from Yehuda v'Shomron.
With the polls as close as they are today, I cannot honestly risk being the one to make Livni the Prime Minister.
And that's why I'm voting for the Likud.
PS: I'll probably add more to this later.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד