Thursday, January 03, 2013

Onward and Upwards goes the Bennett Juggernaut!

Onward and Upwards goes the Bennett Juggernaut!

By Steven Plaut

Without a doubt, the most exciting political development in Israel in
decades has been the sudden and unexpected brilliant success of the
Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party of Naftali Bennett. The shy and
straight-talking Bennett, who built a highly-successful high-tech
entrepreneurial career, started his political career by taking over
the splinter that was left out of the MAFDAL-National Religious Party.
That moldy rump party would have been lucky to get enough votes for
two Knesset seats before Bennett. Within weeks he became the voice
of Israelis who think that the Likud is too double-faced, cowardly,
and demagogic.

A poll released today by the prestigious Israeli Geocartographia
company says that, if the elections were held today (they are less
than 3 weeks away),, Bennett and his party would get 18 Knesset seats
out of 120, probably making it the second largest party in the Knesset
after the Likud, possibly beating out the Labor Party for the
second-place parliamentary position.

Bennett has successfully attracted a wide range of both religious and
secularist Israelis, people who want a party with a clear anti-Oslo
platform, one that does not mumble about "peace partners" and a
possible Palestinian state "under the right circumstances," one that
says what it means and means what it says. It is attractive to those
who want to vote for a party consisting of people who could actually
get jobs if they were not in the parliament, ruling out most of the

The only other unambiguously anti-Oslo party with such a clear message
is trapped in fringe insignificance because it is headed by an open
Kahanist. And in Israel today, being an open Kahanist makes you a
pariah and unelectable. Bennett speaks his mind clearly and openly,
doing so even when it led to a temporary stumble in a political
pothole a few days ago.

Bennett has both the Left and the Likud foaming at the mouth in
hysteria. The Likud has been engaging in hysterical mudslinging at
Bennett. But so far, it is like that country-western song: Every
time they throw dirt at him, they lose a little ground. Bennett has
been soaring and the Likud-Lieberman coalition has been imploding in
the polls as a result of the Likud mudfest, which has included
"anonymous" attack ads against Bennett in the media. The fascist Left
is even more threatened by Bennett's success, so of course is pulling
out all stops to try to slander and bury him.

Consider the attack on Bennett's party today by Yediot Ahronot, the
large Israeli daily (it has actually fallen to second place behind the
freebie Israel Hayom). Yediot has been trying to out-Haaretz even
Haaretz in behaving like a lapdog of the Left. In any case, in
today's paper Yediot claims to expose the political extremism of the
top 15 people on the party slate of Bennett's Bayit Yehudi party. It
promises readers it has uncovered sleaze on every one of them and that
they are a bunch of far-Right zealots and extremists. In each case,
they display the worst quote they could find from that person's public
political record to discredit that person.

And just what did they find? Of the top 15 people, they only found a
single quote for two of them that seemingly makes them look "extreme,"
and even those two do not look extreme in the quote Yediot uncovers.
Of all the others, the best Yediot can do is to "prove" that a
candidate from the party (Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, number 13 on slate
and Orit Struck, number 10) holds extremist rightwing views by writing
under his or her picture that he/she holds extremist rightwing views,
with no illustrations or citations. A few slate members have been
active in anti-Oslo NGOs. Some even (gasp!!) opposed the eviction of
the Jews from the Gaza Strip, which we now know accomplished nothing
other than turning Gaza into Hamastan and a rocket launch base. One
other candidate had headed the Bnei Akiva movement for religious
Zionist youth and, while there, he had sanctioned some separate
activities for boys and girls. Proving how extremist he is in the
view of Yediot. The only actual quotes Yediot could uncover was one
from Rabbi Eli Bar-Dahan (number 4 on the slate) saying that gay
marriage would be a threat to Jewish survival, and another from Uri
Ariel (number 2 on slate) opposing conscription of homosexuals into
the army.

That's it. That is the worst that Yediot could uncover. Even if you
disagree with those last two statements, almost everything else you
will read about what the people on the slate say and think will leave
you with a buzz, a feeling of bliss. Bennett himself this week came
out unambiguously in favor of reining in the imperious anti-democratic
Israeli Supreme Court, and also expressed criticism of the political
bias and lack of pluralism in the media. He is the ONLY serious
political leader in Israel daring to make such statements. Haaretz
meanwhile is trying to paint Bennett as anti-women.

The only political tumble Bennett has experienced to date may not have
even been a real tumble. He was being interviewed for TV by the
arrogant far-leftist TV journalist Nissim Mishal, and at one point
Bennett said that, if he were ever to be given an order while serving
in the army to evict a Jewish family from its home because of the
government's political agenda, he would personally refuse to carry out
that order. He could have ducked the question but choose to answer it
candidly. The Get-Bennett SWAT Team then had a field day. He is
justifying mutiny and lawlessness, screamed the very same Haaretz
editors who have always supported leftist attempts to organize mutiny
and insurrection in the army, praising THOSE leftist campaigns as
infinitely moral. Others compared the "Rightwing Insurrection" of
Bennett to the long track record of Leftwing Moonbats calling for
Insurrections among soldiers.

Now here is not the place for a detailed exploration of the moral
issue of conscientious objection and refusal to carry out immoral
orders given to soldiers. I will just say that, in general, such
things make me uncomfortable. There are appropriate places for taking
a moral stand and expressing political opinions, but politicizing the
army is way out of bounds. Having said that, I also note that Bennett
just said that he personally would refuse the order and would then man
up to any personal legal consequences from that refusal. (He later
retracted the whole statement, by the way.) He did not call upon
OTHER soldiers to refuse to obey orders, something the Tenured Left
does several times a day. And his reluctance to carry out such an
order was based on the fact that he is PRO-Israel, while the Leftists
organizing mutiny do so because they are ANTI-Israel.

Ultimately, the incident did not harm Bennett's campaign and may well
have helped it. He came across as a straight-shooter, a
non-politician who does not mince words and is not afraid to answer
honestly what he thinks, a Jimmy-Stewart Mister Smith headed for the
Knesset Hill. A pro career politician would have ducked the question
in the interview and said something like "I would have to ponder the
situation," or "It would all depend" or "I did not sex with that
Lewinsky woman." Bennett's shy candor is endearing and refreshing.

And if the trend continues, he could end up with 25 Knesset seats,
maybe even out-polling Netanyahu and the Likud.

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