Why They Lost

The Likud and Israel's National Union-National Religious Party lost because they gave the impression to the Israeli public that they cared only about themselves.

David Bedein,

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credit David Michael Cohen
The Likud and Israel's National Union-National Religious Party lost because they gave the impression to the Israeli public that they cared only about themselves.

The disastrous results for the Likud and Israel's national-religious camp in the Israeli elections conveyed a clear message to the people who are associated with those two sectors: you are arrogant and you have isolated yourselves from the people of Israel.

The outreach campaign of the National Union and the national-religious camp articulately addressed the suffering of Israelis who were evicted from their homes in Gush Katif and Samaria; yet, they were without a word as to the suffering endured by economically depressed Israeli development towns that border Gaza in the Negev, which now live under daily artillery bombardment as a direct result of Israel's hasty retreat from Gaza six months ago. Pleas with the leadership of the Likud and the National Union-National Religious Party to hold public meetings with the victims of artillery attacks in the S'derot area fell on deaf ears.

Instead, the stated policy of the National Union-National Religious Party was to reach out only to the "right-wing" of Israeli politics and not to the people of Israel, not to reach out to people with integrity on the Israeli Left who became frustrated with the fallacies of Israel's so-called peace process.

As far as the Likud is concerned, its fate was sealed in the spring of 2003, when Binyamin Netanyahu, as the minister of finance, slashed special public fund allocations for pensioners, for handicapped people and for children. When Netanyahu's director general was confronted with how the cut in child allowance would cause working families to lose vital income that they need for basic sustenance, his answer was that "they should go out to work." When confronted with the fact that the cutback of the child allowance affects people who are at work, his answer, once again, was that "they should go out to work."

A few weeks after the finance ministry's economic plan was announced, I forwarded a professional proposal to Netanyahu's chief social affairs advisor that for every program Netanyahu would cut in health, education and social service, he would ask corporations and philanthropists from Israel and from abroad to sponsor new health, education and social services. The precedent for such an idea occurred during the tenure of Israel's former finance minister, Avrhaham Shochat, who had arranged with United Jewish Communities philanthropists in the USA to sponsor security guard services in all of Israel's public schools, since Shochat was cutting this vital service. To this day, UJC plaques are posted at the guard house of schools throughout the country, to remind everyone that this vital security service, which the Israeli government could not afford, had been secured with private philanthropic funds.

Yet, while Netanyahu's social affairs advisor liked the idea of seeking private sponsors for every service that Netanyahu would slash, Netanyahu would not hear of any such idea. He simply fired his social affairs advisor.

So, there you have it. The Likud and the National Union-National Religious Party presented a clear, strong security program to the Israeli voter; yet, both parties neglected to address the vital health, economic and social disaster of the indigent sector of Israeli society.



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