The Democratic Union is the paradox breaking all the political stereotypes: The Meretz Party, in former prime minister Ehud Barak’s shadow, combined with the duplicity of former Labor lawmaker Stav Shaffir, has the look of a shadowy, demagogic and dangerous political body.
The alliance between the religious Zionist parties and the New Right, which everyone agrees is a right-wing party, on the other hand, has the appearance of an open and optimistic affair—that is if some of its political leaders are able to keep themselves under control.
Should the religious Zionist alliance, which many waited for with bated breath, merely compete with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Party over the division of the electoral bloc, the right will have gained nothing. There should be no hope a joint run by the right-wing parties will prevent the loss of some 100,000 votes.
As a reminder, in the April election, New Right leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, together with Zehut Party leader Moshe Feiglin, succeeded in wasting over a quarter of a million votes, something that has Sunday’s announcement of a right-wing union leaving a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth. After all, Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Rafi Peretz was democratically elected, while Shaked, proven and effective a leader as she may be, was not.
Positioning Shaked at the head of the list offers hope she will be able to chip away at the right-wing voter base that has been bogged down by political deceptions: The Benny Gantz-Yair Lapid union known as Blue and White includes a section considered to be right-wing, but which is no more than a short right leg supporting a leftist party.
Alongside members of this section of Blue and White, among them Moshe Ya’alon, Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, we can find Yisrael Beiteinu Party leader Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman found a way to draw contrarian votes, mainly from right-wing voters who hate religious people and are afflicted with “Bibiphobia.” With its message of unity and Israel as a Jewish state, the new right-wing alliance under Shaked can certainly pull the rug out from under Lieberman and Ya’alon.
Yet while the jubilation on the right over the alliance is to be expected, the religious right has yet to entirely shed its potential to waste votes and self-destruct. What will Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben-Gvir do? What will Feiglin do? What will all the abnormal figures so fond of preaching “normalcy” do? While there is no point in assessing the number of votes these two are likely to garner, we can be sure it will be quite a few—and they may serve to decide the outcome of the election.
My message to the right-wing voters hovering over the left’s honey trap: Imagine that instead of an axis comprised of U.S. President Donald Trump and Netanyahu, there is an axis comprised of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Gantz. It should be clear that nationalists who vote for Gantz or Lieberman are bringing this nightmare closer to reality. The wall Netanyahu erected over the past decade will collapse in minutes, with the encouragement of, of all people, the publicists on the right now recommending that when it comes to the prime minister, Shaked go for the jugular.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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