Shattering the Post-Election Myths
Today's myths are sponsored by M.J. Rosenberg (in an Op-Ed from today's Jerusalem Post) of the ultra-Leftist Israel Policy Forum, and the facts are being provided by... yours truly.
By now everyone knows that the results of the election add up to a mandate to end the occupation.
A close look at the election results for the 17th Knesset show nothing of the sort.
* These elections had the lowest voter turnout in the history of the State of Israel. Nearly 40% of those eligible to vote, representative of nearly every segment of the population, chose not to, having either lost faith in the legitimacy / effectiveness of the current political system, parties and elected officials, or they just don't care anymore.
* There were 3 non-Arab parties whose platform included some type of "end the occupation" concept that earned seats in the 17th Knesset (Kadima, Labor, Meretz), who, in total, earned 53 seats - well short of a 61 seat majority needed to form a coalition.
Of the remaining seats that went to non right-wing parties, 7 seats went to the Pensioners party (a party that currently has no platform on anything except for taking care of the elderly), 18 seats went to the ultra-Orthodox Shas and UTJ parties who also do not have an official platform when it comes to the issue of borders (and neither of those parties would constitute Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria as an "occupation"), and lastly, 10 seats were split between the 3 Arab parties whose voters and leaders (more here - halfway into the post) fail to accept Israel as a Jewish State.
So, in short, these election results do not show any indication that a majority of (Jewish) Israelis are clamoring for an "End to the Occupation".
The surprisingly peaceful withdrawal from Gaza demonstrated that the majority of Israelis support territorial withdrawal and the dismantling of settlements in pursuit of disengagement from the Palestinians.
How can this be considered a proof? This represents the ultimate hypocrisy. Rosenberg and Israel Policy Forum advocated strongly against any refusal of orders and expressions of non-violent civil disobedience when it came to the opposition of the expulsion of the 10,000 Jews of Gush Katif, Gaza and the Shomron. To now argue that since the country did not erupt in violent revolt in the wake of the expulsion proves that the majority were in favor?!?
What of the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated against the expulsion? What of the tens of thousands who involved themselves in acts of non-violent civil disobedience?
Consider the following:
* Ariel Sharon (Likud) was elected by a landslide in the 2003 elections on a platform that directly contrasted Amram Mitzna's (Labor) "Disengagement" plan.
The true mandate that Ariel Sharon and the Likud received in the aftermath of the 2003 elections (where nearly 1 in every 3 voters voted Likud) was to eliminate the terror threat posed by the "Palestinians" against the Jewish State - and in that, his expulsion plan completely failed to represent the will of the people.
* The only referendum held on the matter of the expulsion plan - which took place within Ariel Sharon's Likud party - suffered a resounding defeat: 60% opposed, 40% in favor.
* Ariel Sharon was only able to garner a majority within his cabinet for the expulsion by firing those ministers who opposed the expulsion plan and replacing them with those who were willing to betray their ideological convictions in return for cushy ministerial positions (and a BMW, of course).
The same tactic was used by Sharon to build support within the Knesset for the expulsion plan.
At no point did the majority of (Jewish) Israelis ever give their support to Ariel Sharon's expulsion plan.
Ehud Olmert... has a specific policy mandate: getting out of most of the West Bank. He says that parts of Arab Jerusalem could be handed to the Palestinians either in the context of his unilateral plan, or in negotiations.
Ehud Olmert, and by extension, his Kadima party, have no mandate whatsoever.
* How can Ehud Olmert and Kadima have a "specific policy mandate" when fewer than 1 out of every 4 voters (less than 25%) casted their vote for Kadima?
* Consider that from the very moment that Ehud Olmert took over the leadership of Kadima, the party has been losing voters left and right (both figuratively and literally). When Olmert took over the party, Kadima was polling at 44 seats, and they ended up with a paltry 29 seats - a drop of 15 seats, over a third of their support base!
Furthermore, the other two parties on the left who advocated "ending the occupation" also had poor showings at the polls. Meretz dropped from 6 seats to 5, and Labor stayed at the same 19 seats that they had after the 2003 elections, which was viewed then as an unmitigated disaster.
Who would have imagined that Israeli politics would have shifted in this direction less than six years after the collapse of the Camp David negotiations and following the onset of the Aksa Intifada...
Amazingly, even the coming to power of Hamas did not significantly erode the Israeli consensus in favor of territorial compromise with the Palestinians, either unilaterally or through negotiations.
Israelis have simply had it with the occupation.
Wrong. Again, all this shows is that a large segment of the voting public in Israel has lost faith in the electoral system (see above), and explains why nearly 40% of those eligible to vote in the elections found better things to do on election day, and why a large percentage of those who did in fact vote did so while holding their nose.
Consider that the Pensioners party won 7 seats, the equivalent of over 200,000 votes (a party that only came into existence a few months before the election). Many of those who voted for the Pensioners party did so as a protest vote, and others did so out of a feeling that while none of the major parties could be expected to look after their interests (and since our war with the "Palestinians" doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon), perhaps this small party whose single issue is championing the rights of the elderly seemed, to many, as good a vote as any.
It is, of course, easy to be a militant on Israeli-Palestinian issues when you legislate from 6,000 miles away... Needless to say, the American student activists who voted to sustain the occupation will not be joining their Israeli counterparts in patrolling the West Bank and staffing checkpoints.
Rosenberg is half-right in this instance.
He neglects to mention that it is no less easy to advocate expelling tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Jews from their homes, and for destroying dozens of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel, all to be carried out at the behest of the government of the Jewish State of Israel, while sitting 6,000 miles away.
Of course, neither he, nor his supporters, are likely to ever end up moving to Israel, and as such, will never have to personally expel any Jews from their homes, nor will they have to suffer the consequences of the implementation of such actions.