Post-Election Reflections from the Right

B'Sheva newspaper asked several leading figures in the right what Tuesday's elections mean for the Jewish state and the Jewish people...

Contact Editor
Hillel Fendel, | updated: 17:29

Emanuel Shilo, editor of B'Sheva:
"More than anything else, it was a vote of protest against the political establishment. Most blatant was the protest of nearly 40% of the electorate who chose to stay at home despite all the calls and pleas.

"Then came the protest votes of those who voted for the Pensioners, many of whom are young and not quite concerned about their pensions and the like, but who chose to do a favor to a neglected sector... This was a protests against [the left-wing parties]. The success of the list of unknowns led by Avigdor Lieberman was the expression of the protest of the right-wing, chiefly those who were disappointed by the Likud...

"The election's strange results send the Israeli political establishment off to perform a deep self-accounting on the corruption, the hedonism, the opportunism, the breach of trust between the representative and his voters, and the other ills that were very prevalent in the outgoing Knesset."

" First of all, the long labor pains of the united list were accompanied by discord and mutual recriminations.... Secondly, the list of candidates was not attractive enough. Some of them [four of the nine] are veteran MKs who suffer from lack of motivation for parliamentary work after already having served as Cabinet ministers... There should have been people, in addition to Aryeh Eldad, who are not identified with the religious public... But the main reason is what is perceived as lack of effectiveness against the expulsion... It could be that another Knesset seat could have been attained if not for Baruch Marzel's solo run, though it is clear that many Marzel supporters would not have voted for NU/NRP in any event..."

Former Gush Katif spokesman Eran Sternberg:
"Taking a bird's eye view at the process that we have undergone ever since the destruction of Yamit, the Oslo process, the Wye Agreements, the flight from Lebanon, and the expulsion from Gush Katif, we understand that hoping for salvation from the Knesset is just another form of 'It will never happen!' [as prophesied by at least one rabbi before the expulsion]. In practice, there is no connection between the people's will and the Knesset's decisions.

"These elections have proven that we are deep into the 'post' period. In the past there was a shrill ideological argument between right and left, but now [Meir Sheetrit of Kadima] is proud that we no longer have the 'baggage of [ideologues] Jabotinsky and Katznelson'... We are in the beginning of the period of Judges when everyone does what is crooked in his eyes...

"In the short range, we must realize that the only possible buffer between another decision to withdraw and another destruction is the army. The finest form of democracy is when the army, because of its values, is simply unable to carry out [governmental] decisions. If we once again stutter on the matter of refusal, there is no point to the struggle..."

Emunah Elon, wife of National Union leader MK Benny Elon and a writer from Beit El:
"It's sad and painful that the Israeli public is not yet ripe to give more mandates to the NU/NRP list. The media paid little attention to us, much of the nation chose the illusion of quiet and normalcy, and improving the pensioners' plight is currently more inviting to many Israelis who are tired of struggling with the issue of our right to the Land of Israel and our right to exist altogether.

"But the main thing is that our 'Moving Rightward' campaign was very successful, and Kadima only has 28 mandates. It will not be able to implement Olmert's dangerous 'turning inward' plan. It is almost certain that the communities of Judea and Samaria will remain standing until our stronger showing in the next elections, with G-d's help... We didn't win, but neither did the left. The reality, and our wonderful youngsters who are so full of dedication, will bring us, with G-d's help, happier results in the next elections."

Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Likud's Jewish Leadership faction:
"The only stable aspect of 75% of the Jewish public is the apathy and deep despair. We can say that this is the real legacy of Ariel Sharon. In the week that the President of Iran that he will soon have nuclear weapons, elections took place in the country he wishes to destroy, and not one party even related to the issue!... But the good news is that specifically now, the potential for a real revolution is greater than ever. If until now there were right-wing and left-wing blocs, with only a few willing to hear new ideas, today everything is possible. Tens of mandates pop up from nowhere, and Olmert's sly arrogance, as when he boasted 'It will be fun to live here!', will soon meet reality with a crash, and then the option of a real 'revolution of faith' will be more possible than ever... The question is whether we will seek the way to such a revolution, or we will continue to roam the closed confines of Kiryat Moshe, Beit El and Givat Shmuel [bastions of religious-Zionism]."

Michael Ben-Ari, #3 on the Hazit party list of Baruch Marzel:
"I hear [elements in the National Union] calling for the erasure of the Marzelites, and I understand that once again they have not taken the hint. It's easy to find deficiencies in others, but it's time to look inward... The public doesn't want to hear about right and left anymore, it wants a path. The left has taken advantage of this and has come up with many achievements: Sinai, Oslo, Wye, the Disengagement, and now Olmert's 'turning inward' plan. On the other side, we hear only empty words and a lack of direction... If all the resources that were invested in liquidating the Marzelites were invested in setting a courageous path, it could be that the results would have been different. Sitting in the opposition will give time for soul-searching and in clearly defining who is good and bad. Only when we stop trying to 'influence from within' will we be able to reach positions of leadership."

Likud member Gideon Ariel, Advisor for International Affairs to the Mayor of Maaleh Adumim: (His response did not appear in B'Sheva.)
"After the elections on Tuesday, people in the right/religious camp are understandably confused and depressed... Through membership in the [Likud] Central Committee, I have impact on the Likud and thereby on Israel politics in general, and I also open my opportunities for other positions to promote my ideas and interests and those of my constituents. I have decided to stay in the Likud for four reasons:

"First of all, in spite of the Likud receiving a trouncing on Tuesday, what goes around comes around. I joined Likud when it had 19 seats in the opposition, and I believe that with the brand name it owns, rumors of its demise are greatly exaggerated. Sticking through thick and thin is a sign of loyalty that voters will reward in future elections. Furthermore... My personal beliefs [are close] to those of the average National Union-type [and] it's important to be in a party that is central right. I and others like me provide the party with its rightness, and central-minded voters provide it with popularity and votes. To leave the center is to abandon it to the likes of Kadima...

"Similarly, the Likud encompasses all sectors of Israeli and Jewish society. I want my ideology to be accessible to all... [Then why not join Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party?] This is the most important reason. Lieberman's party is [just the latest] in a line of personal meteors that sooner or later dissipate. As much respect that Lieberman deserves, he is not incorporating democratic institutions like robust central committees, secretariat, branches, and most importantly, a constitution. A glance at the party's website, especially its History page, confirms what so many Israelis know instinctively: Yisrael Beiteinu is a one-man show."