Just back from Israel and the redo elections. It was a dizzying week for all. If Avigdor Lieberman would give up his shenanigans, then a third election in January may not be necessary. He needs a big bear hug by the right. At the moment, the main victor in this election was the Joint List, whereupon the Arab party became Israel’s third-largest party. Truth be told, if this trend continues, the Arab party can garner over 20 Knesset seats in future elections since they represent 20% of the Israeli population. They are close to that now. Although the Joint List took more votes away from the left, it may just as well have taken seats away from the right as well. When the Arabs vote in droves, which is their Democratic right in Israel, they push the threshold for seats higher and higher, making it harder for the smaller parties to even pass the threshold. This has been a seismic shift in Israeli politics that will only get worse. The Joint List includes Ahmed Tibi, who is viciously anti-Israel. Mahmoud Abbas encouraged Israeli Arabs to vote in order to topple Benjamin Netanyahu. The media never gives Israel any credit for its truly Democratic way. The Arabs never took advantage of Israel’s democracy until recent times. They would always cut their nose to spite their face. Not anymore. This is the real take-home message of this election. This is the upheaval that Israel now faces.
The other victor, although not receiving the number of Knesset seats he boasted he would get, was Avigdor Lieberman. As everyone knows, he caused this redo election by not joining Benjamin Netanyahu in May. Pressure has to be applied from all corners for him to join Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition (which is his natural alliance) for the sake of the State of Israel. Avigdor Lieberman can save Israel at this critical time if he joins the right-wing coalition the way he did earlier in his life. If another election has to be held in January, the blame will be squarely upon his shoulders. For the sake of the State of Israel he should give up his crusade against the religious and do the right thing. Differences should be set aside for the sake of the nation. Lieberman made his point and added to his number of seats. Now he has to get on with it. Enough posturing and wasting Israeli taxpayers’ money on these multiple elections.
In the next year, unless something is done, Iran will acquire enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Hamas will again have to be dealt a severe blow. It is not a time for a government to be in limbo. Quite the opposite. Israel needs a strong right-wing government to deal with these critical issues and much more. Hopefully, cool heads will prevail.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.