Nov 20, 2008

Brace For Interference As Bibi Pulls Ahead

By Stan Goodenough

With less than 12 weeks to go to Israel’s general elections, the country’s former foreign minister, finance minister and prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is powering ahead in the polls.

A survey conducted on October 27 gave the Kadima Party of disgraced Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni 29 seats while Netanyahu’s Likud got 27 and Labor scored 11.

In the three weeks since then, however, quite a change has taken place.

According to new poll results published locally Thursday (November 20), if Israelis were to vote today they would give the Likud a whopping 32 Knesset seats, Kadima 26, and Labor a mere eight.

Altogether Israel’s center-right bloc would come out with 64 members of Knesset while the center-left would garner 56.

This would make for a strong, right-thinking government that could help Israel as a nation to face up to America’s by then just three-week-old president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Envisaging such a, to him frightening, scenario, Labor leader Ehud Barak sought to sow fear among his countrymen in what was also a rather transparent attempt to bolster his party’s flagging fortunes.

“The Likud and Netanyahu will lead to a diplomatic dead end, the Likud and Netanyahu will lead us to a confrontation with the whole world,” he ranted.

His audience - the Israeli electorate - is famously fickle; quickly swayed by the climate of the day; easily influenced by the media.

One such press person is Ha’aretz journalist Yossi Verter.

In an apparent bid to quieten his own thumping heart, Verter acknowledged Thursday that “it’s clear the mood on the Israeli street is in the Likud’s favor,” but hastened to reassure himself, saying “it must be noted that we are [only] at the start of the campaign.”

“The gloves are still on, Netanyahu has not yet been worked over by Kadima or by Labor. Things could definitely change,” he wrote, hopefully.

In fact, not only Israel’s leftists, but the liberal elites of the western world will certainly be gearing up for battle to ensure that Obama does not have “Bibi” to deal with. That could really put a spanner in the White House works.

Netanyahu has pledged to wage a clean campaign. What we will surely see from the left side, though, is an intensifying mud-raking and mud-slinging effort to turn Israel’s undecided voters away from him and from the Likud.

What Barak started today was only a shot across the bows. There will be some ugly stuff happening domestically in the Land. But we can also confidently be on the lookout for widespread and quite blatant interference in Israel’s internal affairs from a whole pack of western nations. The United States has not held back from such manipulation in the past and I believe it quite probable that we will soon hear displeasure at the prospect of a Netanyahu win voiced in some form or another from “sources close to President-Elect Obama.”

There will be more scare-mongering. Israelis will hear whispered threats about how their already-universally-despised nation will be hung out to dry by the international community; how they will be completely isolated if they put Netanyahu back in the Prime Minister’s Office.

American and other lovers of Israel: We must be ready for this and prepare to respond forthrightly to our representatives and in letters to the editors of our newspapers demanding that our lawmakers allow the Israeli people to choose their leader without interference or manipulation.