Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Election Reflections #1 (part 1)

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I am on the list of candidates of the National Union Party (HaIchud HaLeumi) /National Religious Party in the upcoming Israeli elections.

(This is also one of the reasons why I have not had as much time to blog of late).

Both David of Soccer Dad and Ezzie of SerandEz suggested, given my personal involvement in the upcoming Israeli elections and the campaign of the National Union / National Religious party, that I provide some type of "insider" look at the elections - at least from the perspective of my party.

Personally, I think the idea is a great one, but at the same time, I am apprehensive. I do not view myself as a party hack, and the views I have always expressed on this blog have been my own. I do not agree 100% with any political party in Israel, let alone the one in which I am a member and candidate for Knesset, and I would hate for my blog to come to be viewed as a simply a mouthpiece for the National Union / National Religious Party - a blog where I would be merely spouting off empty slogans and ideas.

I am happy, for the greater good of the Jewish Blogsphere, to post occasional updates from my "insider" perspective. However, I will not be writing about why I think everyone should be voting for the National Union - National Religious Party per se, although I may focus a bit on why and how I got involved with the party. Instead, I intend to post about some of the particular issues that will arise (or have arisen) during the campaign, and how I personally relate to them.


To be continued...



What position are you on the slate? I went to the website and I see you are not in the top 15 or however many are displayed in the list.

I want to pose some questions, if I may: I have noted in Meretz's campaign that they do not even suggest that they could "win" the election, but rather try and convince people why to make Meretz a larger force. What are your thoughts about realistic expectations of a smaller party? Do you think that NU/NRP need to recognise in their campaigning that they will not receive the highest number of votes?

It seems you guys are going for the "we are the real choice on the right" idea. I saw the answer to the "Wouldn't a stronger likud be better?" question on the website and to tell you the truth, the answer seemed to contradict with the answer to "you aren't right wing enough for me" on the one hand you don't want people wasting their vote on Herut and Hazit, on the other, you don't want them consolidating the larger Likud. Are you not now just a slightly more right "Pragmatic" choice?

By Anonymous H, at Wed Feb 15, 04:24:00 PM GMT+2  

Thanks Ze'ev. I would be curious which aspects of the party you do agree with (and don't), and the 'why you got involved' stuff would likely be pretty interesting.

H - Herut and Hazit may not cross the threshold, which is different than strengthening the NU, which is pretty assured of having a few seats. Herut/Hazit could just be a waste of votes that would mean an extra seat or two to NU.

By Blogger Ezzie, at Wed Feb 15, 07:16:00 PM GMT+2  

Yeah, I would like to see something on your opinion as whether the NU/NRP merger is a good or bad thing.

By Anonymous Tovya @ Zion Report, at Wed Feb 15, 07:25:00 PM GMT+2  


The argument could be made that if one were to vote to get Herut or Hazit, and they were to cross the threshold, then by electing a truly no-compromise right wing party into the knesset you had done a much greater good for the cause of Hashem and the land of Israel than if you were to just help NU/NRP get another seat. Equally, if one votes for NU/NRP and they are not in the government, because Kadima wins and does not need them (i.e they go with Labour and Meretz, or Labour and Hetz, or Labour and Shinui or Labour and Likud, whatever), then your vote for NU may have gone to a party in the knesset, but will not have made a difference to the government, whereas had you voted likud, maybe they would have been in the government instead of one of the loony left, anti-religious parties. The point is there is an inherent paradox in arguing against one party by saying they are too extreme and will not get elected because of it, and saying about another that they aren't genuinely right wing and that they are too likely to compromise in order to get into power. Don't get me wrong - the paradox is an essential part of the ideological positioning inherent in a multi-party system, but I just think the far right is ripe for being attacked on it, due to the ludicrous eruption of a hundred different factions and parties. What is truly the difference between Yisrael Beiteinu, National Union, Hazit, Herut, NRP, etc? Why can't they come together - is it because of deeply held ideological convictions or because of ego and hubris? I believe the second. Why did it take so long for NRP and NU to get together? Because they couldn't decide who would lead the list! How ridiculous! And the only reason it got resolved - because NRP were doing so badly they looked as if they would fall below the threshold. For a party that claims it is all about ideology, that is some pretty petty politics.

As for Tovya's question, I think that the Merger was actually a mistake in the long term - there is no longer a "Dati Leumi" choice. Which means that if one is Religious but not far right, and not Hareidi, you don't have a party which will represent your interests - in the long term this means that the religious leadership of this country has decided that religious = right wing. (Something those in the secular left and religious right have known for a long time, but by politicising religion, you cannot complain when it bites you back - this means that in the next knesset the secular majority of this country may actually be served by a fair and reasonable constitution which helps define us as a Jewish Democratic, secular state. And the anti-democratic theocrats will only lose out.

By Anonymous H, at Thu Feb 16, 01:24:00 PM GMT+2  

To some extent, I agree with you. However, there are differences: 1) NU is clearly going to cross the threshold; the others are not, and are therefore a bigger gamble. 2) Merging with some of the other parties would portray the NU as an "extremist" party by a larger chunk of the Israeli public, and possibly cost them seats. By keeping Herut to the right of them, for example, NU is saying, "Hey, we're not the real extremists - we're just very Zionistic."

The loss of a party for Religious Zionists is not such a terrible thing; I don't think the NRP best represented their interests for almost a decade now. I don't mind seeing the religious playing a larger role within the other parties - a large enough chunk would ensure that the Likud or whomever does their best to take religious beliefs into account on a consistent basis, not just when they're in the government. The religious did okay without the religious parties originally, by playing a large role in parties like the Likud.

In the end, though, I think more people should vote Likud and make sure it's the biggest party. (For now, until I see better projections...)

By Blogger Ezzie, at Thu Feb 16, 05:12:00 PM GMT+2  

I think that even if it were possible to get a strong & religious right wing party or bloc to be a part of the next government, Olmert will no doubt continue Sharon's "cabinet rubber stamp" policy. And if the right protests and/or quits the government, he'll just replace them with a left wing party need be.

But that is also the reason why it's worth getting a significant number of seats even if you are not a part of the formation of the government.. because no matter what Kadima does, they will undoubtedly have a difficult time in making a party to the left or right of them happy with a lot of decisions, so the chances of one party/bloc quiting the government at some point is obviously high. Which means there will either be early elections or Kadima will have to include the other party/parties within the government to keep it from falling.

But really it's all speculation until we see just how many seats each party gets.. but the point is we should all know that you can't discount a right wing bloc even if it is stands outside of the government... at some point they could be the party that is either given significant cabinet positions and a placement in the government or be the tie that takes down the government.

You can ignore Right Wing parties individually by bribing the others with cabinet seats, but when they are united, you can't pull stunts. Kadmina should be wise not to pull a hardline position against the "far" Right, because I'll guarantee Olmert that he doesn't have a safety net in Labor and Likud.. he may very well find himself grobling to NU/NRP later to save/form his government starting from day one.

By Anonymous Tovya @ Zion Report, at Thu Feb 16, 06:10:00 PM GMT+2  

Are we ever going to hear from Ze'ev!?

By Blogger tafka PP, at Fri Feb 17, 08:51:00 AM GMT+2  


I am not sure what you are talking about when you say:

"The religious did okay without the religious parties originally, by playing a large role in parties like the Likud."

There has always been a National religious party. And originally Hapoel hamizrahi (the bigger of the two national religious parties) was dovish and closely aligned with Mapai. So your statement about Dati leumi people previously having a home in Likud is ridiculous!

In the last knesset, when Likud had 40 MKs, not one of them was dati, of any flavour. They had an Arab, a Druze,criminals, women, mafia, russians, criminals - every part of israeli society represented apart from the religious!!!

Bit generally i think your point was the same as mine - National Union are not what they claim to be - "the true right" - as they are deliberately encouraging small parties to the right of them to run, so as to deflect the stain of extremism on to them. It is good for the NU-NRP that there are even more crazy fascists to the right of them.

Tovya - i agree entirely with your analysis. ANyone who is on the far right should probably vote NU-NRP, rather than the likud. Tactical voting for the likud is backwards thinking unless you think they have a chance of winning. if they are playing second fiddle to a kadima led government, then it is not going to help the religious right.


By Anonymous H, at Sun Feb 19, 12:37:00 PM GMT+2  

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