רן בן יהושפט
Ran Bar-Yoshafat
Photo: Moti Kikion
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the first meeting of the 35th government

Let's admit it, Israel is not really right-wing

Opinion: When taking a closer look into the views of the average Israeli, especially on social and economic issues, the reasons the right thinks it's in power and the left feels like it's constantly losing boil down to PM's political legerdemain and the left's ineptitude

Ran Bar-Yoshafat |
Published: 05.23.20 , 23:39
After the inauguration ceremony of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s left-wing government on Sunday, it is time to admit the simple truth: Israel does not have a right-wing majority.
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  • The right did not actually win the elections. Truth is, the right wasn't actually in power for the last 40 years, or even the last decade.
    גנץ ונתניהו בישיבת הממשלה הראשונה גנץ ונתניהו בישיבת הממשלה הראשונה
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the first meeting of the 35th government
    (Photo: Kobi Gideon )
    It is not because the right can’t rule, which it can’t, it’s because the people are not truly right-wing.
    When it comes to security, most people understand there is no actual partner on the other side, and yet, most still oppose the idea of extending Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank or even parts of it.
    The people of Israel show great leniency towards the government’s lack of action against the murderers on the other side.
    There wasn't much difference between the right and left governments of the past, besides the extent of their pretense that peace talks would actually help stability or the security of the citizens.
    מחאת הדגלים השחורים בכיכר רביןמחאת הדגלים השחורים בכיכר רבין
    The 'Black Flag rally' against Netanyahu in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Same goes for the economy. Most citizens' wish to pay fewer taxes and receive as many public services and benefits as possible symbols the lack of profound economic discourse in this country.
    The economic right wants less regulation, a free market, and a reduced public sector, whereas the economic left wants the state to assume greater responsibility on its citizens, plan the economy, and fund public resources.
    The economic understanding of Israelis is reserved for a small group, on both political sides, that usually pontificate inside their own echo chambers.
    However, the average Israeli clearly leans to the left.
    A clear cut example to this is the extensive leverage of the trade unions which is most detrimental to the Israeli economy.
    The right also does not have a majority in state-religion affairs. While most of the country’s Jewish population feels some connection to its tradition, most don’t observe Sabbath, bathe in the Mikveh, or engage in ritual hand washing before breaking bread.
    Despite some inappropriate scare campaigns warning the public of "religionization", Israel's public sphere is becoming more and more secular.
    הפגנה של ארגוני הימין מול ביתו של היועמ"ש אביחי מנדלבליט בכיכר גורן פתח תקווההפגנה של ארגוני הימין מול ביתו של היועמ"ש אביחי מנדלבליט בכיכר גורן פתח תקווה
    A pro-Netanyahu rally in Petah Tikva
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    Furthermore, this automatic link between a Yarmulke and a beard and the right is indicative of a rather short memory.
    After all, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party supported the Oslo Accords and it and the United Torah Judaism party hold very left-leaning economic views.
    The connection that Israelis feel to their tradition is strong and manifests itself on the radio, TV, and cinema - but the negative light in which the religious world is portrayed at times shows that the true rulers hail from a different camp.
    The right, that wishes to limit the extent of the Supreme Court's involvement in legislation out of belief in the separation of powers, is perceived by most people as a danger to democracy or accepted with relative indifference.
    Those protesting to limit the High Court's authority are the same organizations that wish to apply Israeli sovereignty over West Bank territories, ideologically balance the academy and the media, and increase law enforcement in southern Tel Aviv.
    מתוך שידורי בג"ץמתוך שידורי בג"ץ
    The High Court of Justice in session
    (צילום מסך)
    Meanwhile, the left - alongside most academia, media, and the state prosecution - views the court system as the protector of democracy from the selfish legislator, who acts solely out of political reasons and not for the benefit of the public.
    The only reason the right thinks it's in power and the left feels like it's constantly losing is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ability to lead impossible coalitions that have nothing in common, ideologically speaking.
    The left, however, cannot even put together a three-piece jigsaw puzzle since the downfall of Mapai [the precursor to the Labor Party].
    So, no. The majority is not right and it hasn't been right for the past 40 years. It is a soft and sleepy center.
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