Some things are better late than never. The creation of a united right-wing bloc is good news to many of Israel’s citizens, who expected and hoped it would come to pass.
While the union is still mostly a technicality, as the Jewish Home and National Union parties still hold differing worldviews from that of the New Right Party, the prospect of victory for the right in the upcoming election dwarfs the parties’ ideological differences. Jewish Home leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz and New Right co-leader Naftali Bennett were wise to sacrifice their own spots on the joint Knesset ticket in favor of Ayelet Shaked, to help foster the union.
This unnecessary election was forced on us by Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, who grossly manipulated the right-wing votes he received in the April 9 election. I have no doubt that his real agenda, and who his actions were intended to serve, will quickly be revealed. In any case, the upcoming election is crucial for the country’s future, and for maintaining the tremendous achievements the state has made under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing governments.
Contrary to the Blue and White Party’s popular battle cry that Netanyahu only cares about himself, seasoned citizens whose vision is unclouded by hateful “Bibiphobia” can appreciate these lofty achievements.
In the previous election, hundreds of thousands of right-wing votes were wasted because of parties which failed to pass the electoral threshold. The Union of Right Wing Parties assures this mistake won’t be repeated on Sept. 17. The right doesn’t have the luxury of being able to flush votes down the drain. We can only hope that Otzma Yehudit and Zehut eventually join the URWP bloc.
It’s OK to occasionally take a page out the of the left’s playbook to overcome divisions and increase the odds of winning an election. When I read the piece by author David Grossman, the left’s moral compass, giving his seal of approval for the Meretz Party’s union with former prime minister Ehud Barak, I’ll admit to feeling somewhat envious. The left is fully capable of forgiving friendship with a pedophile and accepting an apology for killing Arabs, while the right has a hard time simply bridging ideological gaps for the sake of ensuring the integrity of the Land of Israel.
With that, we mustn’t celebrate too soon. One condition for the URWP’s success is the cessation of all friendly fire. The ink has yet to dry on the unity deal and the Likud has already taken unnecessary shots at it, in response to problematic comments made by Shaked and Bennett before its finalization. This is not how elections are won. If the mutual attacks persist, the union won’t help and the ultimate goal won’t be met. After the election, they will lament and have only themselves to blame.
Politics is not a game for the naive. One needn’t be a political expert to understand that hard feelings, interests and personal considerations exist. Shaked and Bennett fear the Likud will enter a unity government with Blue and White and leave them on the outside looking in. The Likud is worried that Shaked and Bennett will agree to join the highest bidder—after all, we’ve already witnessed such a partnership with Yair Lapid.
The resounding counter-argument, however, lies in the fact that if the right wins the election and is able to form a government, these fears will have been unfounded—and if the right loses, they won’t matter anyway.
The time has come to join hands and approach the public in unison, as one large and powerful right-wing bloc, to continue leading the country onward and upwards to new heights.
Dr. Haim Shine is a faculty member of Israel’s Academic Center of Law and Science, and a member of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.