by Prof. Ron Breiman
Three senior ministers are missing from the Likud's new Knesset list, and the media has already declared: The Likud has moved to the Right, it's become more extreme. For the Israeli media, there is only one end of the political spectrum. The extreme Left is never mentioned, and no one has attributed any extremism to Labor's Knesset candidates, let alone those from Meretz.
A deeper look, however, reveals that on the Likud's list, 18 of the top 20 candidates served in the outgoing Knesset, while the two new names come from the Left (Tzachi Hanegbi) and from the Right (Moshe Feiglin). It's the proper balance, more a process of generational change than "extremism."
With that, the Likud, as a Center-Right party with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu squarely in the middle of the political spectrum, represents public trends: Sobering up from the blurry "visions for peace" and from the idea of a "two-state solution." The public isn't becoming more extreme, it is merely sobering up to reality.
It's not surprising that the media, which always criticizes the government from the leftist flank, and which enlisted itself to the cause of "peace" and to the evictions from Gush Katif (Gaza) and northern Judea and Samaria, isn't happy that voters have understood what it refuses to understand: "The two-state solution" isn't a solution. It has already exploded in our faces — with the "Oslo War" (the Second Intifada). Moreover, regarding the matter of public discourse it is right to allow room for other opinions, ones that don't blindly follow false prophets.
The process of sobering up, prevalent among the general public and whose views have been partly represented by the advancement of new candidates on the Likud's list, is extremely slow. If this process was quicker we would see it represented in polls showing large increases for parties to the right of the Likud. In the meantime, this is happening slowly. Even Netanyahu himself needs it. He needs the pressure from his Right flank to help him withstand the heavy pressure from the Left, domestically and from abroad.
But the "investigative" media continues undeterred: It's "the two-state solution" or bust, without having accounted for the risks involved in such a plan before it was unveiled to the world, or without learning the lessons from what has already happened because of it.
Therefore, the media is once again promoting Tzipi Livni, the person who failed as a foreign minister but sees herself as prime minister; the person who had a hand in the failures of the Second Lebanon War; who is associated with the Oslo agreement and Annapolis; and who refuses to accept the judgment from voters in her own Kadima party, who elected someone else to replace her; and who is doing her best to now destroy that party which she called home. None of this bothers the media enough to avoid supporting her.
Contrary to the narrative espoused by the media about a "Center-Left" bloc, it is actually just a collection of parties eating away at one another, and there is nothing "Center" about them.
Another argument being raised by various commentators is that Likud voters have kicked out the law-abiding MKs, and that the Likud's new stars are opposed to the rule of law. But actually it is the State Prosecution and the Supreme Court that have eroded the public's trust in them, so essential to how they function. Indeed, it's those who oppose the "friend brings a friend" system within the Supreme Court and who support dividing the Office of the Attorney-General's jurisdictions — who are trying to rehabilitate the public's trust in these vital institutions.
In recent years the balance between the various authorities has been disturbed due to over-interference from the judicial system and its overwhelming power in relation to the legislative and law enforcement branches. Part of this phenomenon stems from the government itself, which transfers some of the decisions it should be making itself to the attorney-general or Supreme Court. Those who support a balance do not oppose democracy or the rule of law.
Professor Ron Breiman served as chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel from 2001 to 2005.
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