In the 1996 elections, Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in creating the winning slogan. Against the backdrop of exploding buses and ambulance sirens, the elections ads repeatedly featured the compelling words: "No peace, no security, no reason to vote Peres."
Where is the Bibi of the Left, who can voice the exact same slogan today: "No peace, no security, no reason to vote Netanyahu"?
In political marketing, there are two basic principles which can guarantee success in an election - positioning and differentiation. The positioning is aimed at presenting an outstanding trait of the politician that the public can benefit from. The differentiation points to the politician's relative advantage compared to his rivals playing in the same political field.
Netanyahu has managed over the years to position himself as Mr. Security, without winning any war. The battles against Hamas in Gaza ended without a victory, and Palestinian terror continues to strike in repeated waves. The differentiation he tried to create compared to the Left, as a leader capable of bringing safe peace, was revealed to be a deception. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas won't meet with him, and the Americans see peace negotiations as an optical illusion.
He is mainly starting to be perceived as pathetic. The story he pulled out about the mufti's meeting with Adolf Hitler was a clumsy attempt to serve his basic strategy - if you can't make friends, intimidate with enemies. We had Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who were presented as Freddy Krueger from the film "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is no longer scary after the nuclear agreement. And how much can one use Abbas for intimidation purposes? After taking the mufti out of the attic, Haman from the Book of Esther may be next.
Netanyahu is left today without positioning and differentiation, and has basically lost his electoral assets. Seventy-three percent of the public, according to a survey, believe he is not handling the terror problems properly. He is no longer Mr. Security.
This is the opposition's time to attack, but it's sleeping. Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid are still entrenched in the warm bosom of Facebook and the Knesset podium, instead of sending their over 1.25 million voters out on the streets, where they will be joined by the 165,000 Meretz voters. They must be afraid. Netanyahu will accuse them of being unpatriotic, and the two are still uncertain of the strength of their image.
Herzog is still busy trying to create a coordination between the developed forehead area and the stuck throat area. Will he be able to excite tens of thousands at Rabin Square with his cracked voice? Lapid has a strong presence and a high voice, but he is now busy repairing bridges he destroyed in the past and doesn’t want to lose potential right-wing voters.
And when the Left is dumbstruck, it's the radical Right's time. Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman and Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett are succeeding in convincing some of the public that what cannot be achieved through force, can be achieved with even more force. There is no professional support for this perception among former senior defense establishment officials, but the fear of stabbers silences the voice of reason.
The Left has a well-organized doctrine for solving the situation: An agreement through peace negotiations, or a unilateral separation. This is an outlook based on Israel's identity as a democratic state and on its security needs. Unbelievably, the idea of an agreement is supported by most former defense establishment leaders.
The government cannot be toppled today, but the street can be activated. Zionist Union and Yesh Atid have plenty of organizational tools for holding mass protests in order to affect the public opinion. The political Left and center don’t have their own Bibi yet, but they do have his winning slogan: "No peace, no security, no reason to vote Netanyahu."