Urgently needed: A broad United Right

To this day, Israel and Jews throughout the world pay the terrible price for the Oslo Disaster that never would have happened if the Israeli Right had not splintered, wasting and losing the thousands of votes that had comprised an electoral majority.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer, | updated: 08:09

OpEds Rabbi Prof. Dov Fisch
Rabbi Prof. Dov Fisch
צילום: PR

In the lead-up to the recent April elections, great controversy was occasioned when Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power Party) was included in the United Right Wing Parties (URWP) technical election bloc that was built around Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home Party) and Ichud Leumi (National Union Party).  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu played a major role in fostering the broader URWP bloc, and he sweetened the persuasion by assuring Bayit Yehudi an additional Knesset seat from among the Likud’s own voters.

As a result, URWP emerged from the elections with five seats won outright, plus Likud seat #28 that was assigned to URWP’s Eli Ben Dahan of Bayit Yehudi. That Likud seat was a necessary concession to compenate for some votes that the two main Religious Zionist parties might lose by running with Otzma.

At the time the prior bloc was forged, a brouhaha erupted mostly from the Left but also from a few virtue-signalers within the Religious Zionist community over the inclusion of Otzma.  Taking the lead from Israel’s most Left voices, enemies of Israel abroad echoed them. Suddenly, democratic Israel was under attack from naïve ignoramuses and from Jew-haters overseas who had no conception of the issues at play in the complex negotiations leading to forging the technical bloc.

No concept that Israel’s present election system confronts parties with the prospect of wasting and losing all votes they receive — as Naftali Bennett’s New Right and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut parties ultimately did in April — if they fail to attain the minimum 3.25 percent vote threshold necessary to enter the Knesset.

No concept that a technical elections bloc to survive the 3.25 percent threshold is different from merging ideas.

No concept that the Right previously had splintered itself foolishly in 1992, when such right-wing parties as Tehiya, the New Liberals, Geulat Yisrael, Torah V’Aretz, and others managed to waste just enough votes to give Labor and Meretz a razor-thin Knesset majority that then drove Israel into the tragic spiral of the disastrous Oslo Agreement.

To this very day, Israel and Jews throughout the world pay the terrible price for the Oslo Disaster that never would have happened if the Israeli Right had not splintered itself, thus wasting and losing the thousands of votes that had comprised the electoral majority. Thus, Israel’s enemies this time blasted Prime Minister Netanyahu for helping negotiate Otzma’s inclusion into the URWP bloc, and ignoramuses then parroted those criticisms without understanding the underlying complexities. Israel, as usual, took unfair heat — and, as usual, survived it.


The good news is that, for several reasons, this time around it should be so much easier to include Otzma in the URWP technical bloc.
The good news is that, for several reasons, this time around it should be so much easier to include Otzma in the URWP technical bloc.

First of all, kol hat’chalot kashot: New untried things always are hardest to forge the first time around. So the first time was noisy and bumpy.  But Israel emerged no less free and democratic from that first technical bloc, just as free and democratic as she was before the elections ever began.  Otzma honored all rules and proper parliamentary conduct, as it obviously was going to do. 

Despite the unfortunate way that the final election results played out — lost votes for New Right and Zehut, and Avigdor Liberman’s impossible obstruction to forming a new powerful right-wing coalition government — Otzma continued to maintain its position and dignity.  It never threatened the democratic process. Indeed, Otzma’s pre-election deal as part of URWP entitled it to a Knesset seat in the current temporary Knesset, but the situation is complex, and Otzma has dealt with its legitimate disapppointment in an elegant manner: withdrawing meanwhile  from the URWP bloc but dangling the prospect and comporting itself with the probability that it will reenter when new election lists are filed.

Beyond this, there is something far more important that should ease the inclusion of Otzma into the United Right, and the credit goes to the villain of the last election: the Israeli Supreme Court. Israel’s Supreme Court judicial system needs serious readjustment, and nothing demonstrated that need more clearly than the absurd method by which they disqualified Otzma’s lead candidate and the Number Five on the URWP technical bloc, Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, from contending in the last election, while they simultaneously allowed the candidacies of Arab Party stalwarts devoted to ending the Zionist enterprise.

Lost among that controversy was and is a profound subtlety: the Supreme Court villains inadvertently also gave an imprimatur of kashrut — a certification of approval — to Otzma for this and future Knesset elections. They formally handed down a clean bill of Politically Correct Health to Otzma’s next-in-line  candidate, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir.  By allowing Ben-Gvir to run for the Knesset in April on the Number 8 slot of the URWP, the Supreme Court formally declared for all of Israel to take notice that Otzma, in and of itself, is a legitimate Knesset contender and that Knesset candidates like Ben-Gvir are perfectly within the Supreme Court’s political correctness framework.

Now that the United Right is starting to take shape for the September elections, with Ayelet Shaked emerging to lead the New Right into an arrangement  with an equally agreeable Bayit Yehudi and National Union, those parties next should move quickly to include Attorney Ben-Gvir and Otzma into the broader technical bloc, ideally with Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut to follow if he can be reined in. They all certainly can enter such a technical bloc with full intent to split apart from each other after the September elections, but meantime the narcissists among them need to subdue their respective egos and find a formula for running together as one United Right in September. The Israeli Supreme Court has made clear that they all are kosher.

Better than any dubious theoretical opinion survey, the recent April elections made crystal clear that Bayit Yehudi and Ichud Leumi, together with Otzma, are good for five or six or more seats — with Otzma bringing in two of them — and the New Right is good for another four, while Feiglin is good for almost one. In similar fashion, the political events of July have demonstrated with crystal clarity, for better or worse, that Ayelet Shaked is far better skilled to lead a political ticket through an election’s rough-and-tumble than is Rav Rafi Peretz.

With so much now so simple and clear, a broadened United Right technical bloc should be relatively uncomplicated to forge. All it takes is some good will and a love of Israel.

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