The battlefield of the elections we just went through most resembles a destroyed ruin of the Israeli Right. In order to repair the damage, it is very important to assess the situation realistically.
We'll begin with the Likud, for which it is not worth shedding a tear, because it does not deserve it. Just two days before the elections, the party publicized its political platform, and even that was done only after pressure from the media. When one reads the platform, one understands why that was: they were ashamed.
The platform fails in two parameters that, in my humble opinion, distinguish Right from Left: opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River; and opposition to the uprooting of communities and outposts, wherever they may be and in any fashion. Or to put it affirmatively, the unrestricted settlement of the Land of Israel and the creation of the political conditions to serve that end. That is the minimal prerequisite for a right-wing platform. It is possible to disagree about everything else: autonomy, cantons, annexation yes or no, transfer yes or no.
On the other hand, support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the uprooting of Jewish communities - what is that, if not leftist?
According to that definition, and according to Binyamin Netanyahu's new Likud platform, the Likud is no longer a right-wing party.
Hasdai Eliezer, mayor of Alfei Menashe, sensed this and he said:
Several hours before the elections, the Likud inserted into its political platform the acceptance of the Road Map. In one sentence: through negotiations, within two years, a Palestinian state in permanent borders. And in effect, there is no difference today between Kadima, Labor and Likud... because they all are ultimately working towards a Palestinian state in permanent borders.... The obvious difference between the Likud and Kadima is the Likud's opposition to a unilateral move.Those words, published on Arutz Sheva, end with a personal comment of Hasdai Eliezer, himself a member of the Likud Central Committee. He is not leaving the movement, but "I must say openly that I had a hard time with that decision; however, I don't know what will happen in the future."
Hasdai did not elaborate as to where he might go, to Kadima or to the National Union. And we will yet discuss whether the National Union is even an option for those like him and for places like Alfei Menashe, in which 31.4% of the voters chose Kadima and about 44% chose the Left overall. (Parenthetically, I'll add that what is still called "the Right" - National Union, Likud, Avigdor Liberman - received not more than 32%, and Shas, 2.3%.)
If one carefully reads the Likud platform, one further finds that there is nothing there about protecting the Jewish communities against uprooting, with the exception of the communities of the Jordan Valley; however, even the Jordan Valley is referred to as a "security border", an area over which one does not claim sovereignty. The platform speaks of "security fringes" and about contiguity between "settlement blocs". As is known, whoever speaks of blocs is intending to relinquish whatever is not in the "bloc". How does it go? If that's Right, then I'm a submarine.
To that new sketch of the Likud should be added that Netanyahu - responsible for that platform - is absorbing criticism from Limor Livnat and Danny Naveh, which is also apparently on behalf of Silvan Shalom, that he is too "extremist", that he is pushing the Likud towards the "extreme Right", Heaven forfend, that he is not sufficiently emphasizing his "center-ness". In light of that, the few votes the Likud received in the ideological settlements in Judea and Samaria - 12.7% in Kiryat Arba or 6.1% in Elon Moreh - were also undeserved.
We can see with our own eyes that the Likud's sad state was "honestly earned". And if it ultimately disintegrates, we can be comforted that it caused enough damage - from Menachem Begin's Camp David, whose autonomy plan laid the foundation for a Palestinian state, to Madrid of the best of them, Yitzchak Shamir, at which the foundation was laid for indirect talks with the PLO, through Wye River, the adoption of the Oslo Accords and the abandonment of Hevron by Netanyahu. The House of Hillel, judging favorably, will say that there are worse than the Likud. And that is true today, as well, but in light of the new situation, the Likud has also officially stepped out of Right and become moderate Left.
It is painful to consider all of the good will, the innocent faith, the money and sweat that Moshe Feiglin and his movement invested, which is buried under that headstone called the new Likud platform. How could Feiglin live with such a platform? Where did he go wrong? He went wrong in assessing the command structure, the cadres of party hacks. He did not correctly judge their internal ingredients - what part jobs and what part ideology.
To the Likud's credit, it must nevertheless be said, it split apart on matters of ideology. But not thanks to its opportunistic ministers from Netanyahu down, rather thanks to those keepers of the flame. All due respect to Uzi Landau, Micki Ratzon, Ehud Yatom and their colleagues who paid the full price of their honesty and integrity and saved, if just a bit, the honor of the Likud, which is leaving, at least for now, the stage. At least it will be recorded in history books that Ariel Sharon was not able to corrupt the party entirely and that the organization reacted and fought against the poison injected into it.
Feiglin will learn now the old, bitter lesson that while a barrel of good apples will never repair a rotten one, one rotten apple is enough to spoil a whole barrel.
We asked where a right-wing voter can find his home now, and we know that many fled to Yisrael Beitenu of Avigdor Liberman. However, there too, one cannot find respite. At the basis of Liberman's plan is the assumption that in those areas where Arabs live a Palestinian state will be established, to which he wants to add Wadi Ara and Umm El-Fahm and the Little Triangle - Taibeh and its neighbors. And what of the Jewish communities on the hillsides not in the large blocs, which will be exchanged, according to Liberman, for sovereign Israeli territory? Is he abandoning them? The answer is in the affirmative. To his credit, it must be noted that years ago he said that the unity of the nation is more important to him than the unity of the land, and for that unity he is willing to evacuate his home in Nokdim. And if we ask about Jerusalem, it can be inferred from his words, that too he would divide along demographic lines.
It is possible to confront Liberman with many questions: And in the Galilee, which is in parts majority Arab, what will you do? And what do you propose France do in those areas, primarily in the south, that already have an Arab majority? To whom will you give them? What will you exchange, and for what? And what will you do after your irreversible act of concession of sovereignty to the enemy if the demographic picture reverses itself? Why don't you address the study showing that the number of Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is 1.3 million less than is claimed? In general, the birthrate is decreasing in the Arab world, and there are already signs of that here. And in light of the increasing anti-Semitism in the West - among other things, the terrifying situation on American campuses - how do you know that waves of immigrants will not kill the "demographic demon", while what you will have done in the territorial field cannot be undone?
However, we have no need for this debate, for we are discussing definitions; and according to our definition, whoever supports a Palestinian state and does not oppose the uprooting of Jewish communities is not a right-winger.
So, where will we direct the disappointed Hasdai Eliezer and those like him? There is no serious party that fits our definition except one: the National Union-National Religious Party. But does it constitute "goods" that can be marketed to Alfei Menashe, if we want to send people there, say in a Face-to-Face campaign, to make them nationalist Zionists? Or to Beit Aryeh, where left-wing parties received 33% of the vote, or to Givat Ze'ev, where the Left received 29%, or Maaleh Adumim, where it received 23.5%? With the national-religious profile of the only right-wing party we have, the representatives will have a hard time persuading a non-religious right-winger who did not grow up in a Bnei Akiva youth group to see it as his political home.
The conclusion is that ahead of the next elections, which God willing are not far off, a home must be prepared for the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of politically homeless right-wingers who are not defined as "religious". If the National Union is able to refashion its public image and address that challenge, then that's good. If not, then there will be no alternative but to create a new right-wing party with a more general Israeli image, in place of the collapsed Likud.
People to serve as the ideological leadership seed group exist in abundance. Just read the variety of people writing opinion columns in the right-wing press - Makor Rishon, B'Sheva, Nativ, Nekuda, Arutz Sheva on the Internet, etc., etc.
We have a justifiable aversion to the tendency to divide again and again. But sometimes, it is too much, as we saw with the unification of the National Union and the National Religious Party, which lost seats rather than adding them. In this case, however, we are not speaking of division, but of its opposite, of collecting the shards. The "Big Bang" at Sharon's ranch scattered the right-wingers to all corners; the task of the hour is to collect them.
Someone must arise, take the initiative and reconstitute the Israeli Right; not only because there are a lot of orphans out there who are in search of a political home, father and mother, but more importantly, because the Left is on its way, God forbid, to ruin the state. And it is the state that urgently needs a strong, clean Right simply in order to survive.