An Israeli Ballot With No Good Options

Bibi Hasn't Earned Reelection and Opponents Yet To Win Trust

ari bronstein

By Hillel Halkin

Published January 10, 2013, issue of January 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Israel doesn’t need to hold elections. It only needs to ask for whom I’d vote, because I’ve never voted for anyone but winners. I was for Golda in 1974, for Begin in 1977, for Rabin in 1992, for Netanyahu in ’96, for Barak in ’98, for the Sharon of the Likud in 2000 and the Sharon of Kadima in 2005, for Ehud Olmert in 2006, for Netanyahu again in 2009. You can’t be more infallible than that.

Who’ll be the winner January 22? Nobody, it would seem, because for the first time in 43 years of living in Israel, I don’t intend to vote.

Certainly not for Netanyahu. How often can you reward the same man for disappointing you?

Not that he deserves all the abuse that’s been heaped on him. He’s performed well on Iran, his silly appearance at the United Nations last autumn notwithstanding. He deserves credit for standing firm on the West Bank and Jerusalem. True, he hasn’t wanted to negotiate with the Palestinians, but neither have they wanted to negotiate with him. Both have good reasons, because negotiations right now can lead nowhere.

He’s been right to go on building in the settlements. There’s no greater cliché than the one that keeps insisting that the settlements are a major obstacle to peace. They may have been that once, when they were few and sparsely populated enough to be removed. Now that they’ve long passed that point, any peace agreement will have to make room for their existence. A hundred thousand Jews, more or less, in them will make no difference.

But Netanyahu has lacked the courage of his convictions on too many other things. He’s missed golden opportunities to carry out the economic reforms he knows are needed, to make Israel a more affordable place for its young people, and to spur the integration of its Haredi community into its army and society, all because he’s been hesitant to challenge vested interests.

His fear of being outflanked on the right has caused him to open the Likud wide to extremists and merge it with a party headed by a political ruffian like Avigdor Lieberman. He hasn’t shown an iota of leadership. A country can put up with a lot if it agrees with where it’s going; Netanyahu hasn’t given Israelis a clue where that might be.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.