2015 Israel election: There but for the Grace of G-d...

Tuvia Brodie,

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Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

“There but for the Grace of G-d go I” is an old English-language expression that dates back 200 years or more. It’s an expression of relief. It signals that the speaker recognizes that the misfortune of another could have been his—but wasn’t.

It declares an acknowledgment that Man’s fate is in G-d’s Hands. It announces that one understands that he has prevailed only because of G-d’s Mercy.

It’s what Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be thinking. Labor leader Isaac Herzog’s election loss could have been his loss. Indeed, according to practically everyone, Herzog’s loss should have been Netanyahu’s loss.

It wasn’t. Netanyahu won.

He didn’t just ‘win’. He didn’t ‘squeek’ by with a razor-thin victory. His Likud Party crushed Herzog’s Labor Party with a 30-seat to 24-seat win.

Compare this win with Netanyahu’s other three victories. There’s no comparison. This one was a complete triumph.

In 1996, he ran in an alliance with Gesher and Tzomet. The three-party alliance won 32 seats.

In 2009, he actually lost to Tzipi Livni. Livni won 28 seats. Netanyahu got 27. Nevertheless, he became Prime Minister because Livni couldn’t put together a coalition.

In 2013, Likud under Netanyahu won only 20 seats. It still won the most seats in the Knesset because it had joined with Yisrael Beiteinu before the election. Together, their union won 31 seats—and the right to form the coalition under Netanyahu’s leadership.

But Likud’s ability to win an election on its own had weakened under Netanyahu, not strengthened. This wasn’t just a matter of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. There was another factor at work. Netanyahu was betraying his constituency--and they were repaying him at the ballot box.

He was changing the shape of Likud. He wasn’t following the Likud ideal. He strayed from the reservation.

The traditional Likud ideal called Judea-Samaria ‘ancestral Jewish homeland’. It would never negotiate that land away.

Netanyahu, however, was negotiating (see Barak Ravid “Netanyahu and Abbas requesting a return to talks”, Haaretz, April, 4, 2012).

When Netanyahu went into the late 2012 Likud primaries, one goal was to get his Likud ‘ducks’ lined up. That meant getting rid of Likud’s most nationalistic Member, Moshe Feiglin.

Feiglin didn’t fit into this new Likud. He stood for the Likud ideal. He didn’t buy into the ‘two-state solution’. In that primary, Netanyahu boxed Feiglin’s ears. But Feiglin wouldn’t go away.

By the time Likud’s January 2015 primaries came round, Likud had had enough of Feiglin’s nationalism. Likud destroyed Feiglin (Orli Haran, Ari Yashar, “Who [politically] 'Assassinated' Feiglin in Likud Primaries?”, Arutz Sheva, January 2, 2015).

Likud was no longer Right. It might continue to talk ‘Right’. But it acted ‘Center’.

In today’s world, ‘Right’ in Israel means opposing a Palestinian state. Left means creating a Palestinian state immediately. Center means, let’s talk about it.

Netanyahu was talking about a Palestinian state. To those on Israel’s Right, that willingness to talk suggested a willingness to abandon ancestral Jewish homeland in order to create a state populated by those dedicated to destroying Israel. It meant the probable removal of some 600,000 Jews from their homes.

Netanyahu was talking. The Right fumed. Likud was no longer ‘pro-Israel’.

In this 2015 election, the Left pushed an ideology of peace, prosperity, social justice and affirmative action for the Arab.  Herzog wanted to mend fences with Obama. He was willing to include pro-Hamas Arabs in his government.

Likud couldn’t compete. It couldn’t gain traction against Labor’s Leftist message.

How could he distinguish himself from Labor? He had trashed the nationalistic Feiglin (consistent with Labor beliefs). He had pursued ‘peace’ with an intransigent and unrepentant Jew-hating enemy (consistent with Labor beliefs). He had torn down Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria (consistent with Labor beliefs).

Why should Rightist voters vote for him? He had abandoned them.

They abandoned him. They went to the Jewish Home Party and, perhaps, to Yachad.

Slowly, Labor’s lead widened.

Then Netanyahu changed his tune. He went on the offensive. He talked ‘Right’.

Headlines blared, “Netanyahu plays security card as rivals open poll lead”, AFP, March 12, 2015; “Netanyahu Pledges: No More Terrorist Releases, Arutz Sheva, March 15, 2015; “Netanyahu: There Will Be No Palestinian state on my watch”, Arutz Sheva, March 16, 2015; “Netanyahu: I Will Not Form a Unity Government [with the Leftist Labor Party]”, Arutz Sheva, March 17, 2015.

In addition, he began using the expression ‘with the help of G-d’. He said it in campaign stops. He said it repeatedly: ““With your help and with the help of G-d” (see Daniel Greenfield, “Netanyahu: Left Busing in Muslim Voters”, Front Page Mag, March 17, 2015). He promised that, with G-d and the voters’ help, he would create a true ‘nationalist’ coalition (ibid).

Falling behind, he appealed to everyone he had jilted. He appealed to them to save his political career.

They saved him. They gave him more seats in the Knesset than he had ever won (for Likud alone).

As a result of this spectacular victory, he faces an Obama who hates him. He faces a world ready to isolate him. He faces an enemy ready to take him to the International Criminal Court as a war criminal.  

Will he remember G-d? Will he stay ‘Right’?

The G-d of Israel has written a Story for Israel and its Jewish people—and for you, too.

Stay tuned.