Surveying rhetoric concerning last week’s Israeli elections, and the upcoming American elections, Elliott Abrams writes:
There is a striking parallel between the comments being heard from the left in the United States about the meaning of a possible Republican victory on November 8, and from the left in the United States—as much as or more than in Israel—about the meaning of the victory of the right in the Israeli election on November 1. The meaning, we are told, is the end of democracy. That’s what President Biden and Hillary Clinton said on November 2 about our elections, [while] President Obama said, “democracy is on the ballot.” It is what we heard from commentators such as Thomas Friedman about the Israeli results and our own election.
What actually happened? There was a very high turnout of voters—over 70 percent, substantially higher than is typical in the United States (and this was the fifth election in under four years)—and it split almost down the middle.
Those inclined to apocalyptic rhetoric in response to the results cite the presence of two members of the far right, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, in Benjamin Netanyahu’s likely coalition. On this, Abrams comments:
For one thing, Netanyahu is a known quantity as prime minister because he was Israel’s longest-serving prime minister ever. His party is by far the largest in his coalition and as his long record shows he is as canny a politician as Israel has produced. Moreover, he has in the main been pretty prudent as a leader, avoiding war and conflict whenever possible and watching carefully where the voters are. It is not at all to be assumed that the government will be under the thumb of Ben-Gvir and/or Bezalel Smotrich, who are new and untested as government officials. Moreover, though they joined to run in this election, they actually come from separate parties and may soon find themselves rivals. If it is useful to Netanyahu to have this happen, he has the wiles to encourage it.