I am a registered member of the Likud. I joined because I agree with Moshe Feiglin and Manhigut Yehudit that the only way to really influence and, hopefully, lead this country is to be part of one of the major parties. The Likud platform is a relatively strong, right wing platform. I would be happy to have leaders who govern according to the principles in the Likud platform.
The recent Likud primaries showed that most Likud members are still seriously right wing. (See here for a list of who was elected to the Likud list, according to their original elected positions.)
Had Netanyahu not cynically manipulated the list, with the sole purpose of bumping Moshe Feiglin out of a realistic slot, I would have voted for the Likud, despite the fact that I do not trust Netanyahu to represent me or the Likud principles.
When I was in college, and Netanyahu was the Israeli representative to the UN, I admired him tremendously. To say that I was in awe of him would not be an exaggeration. He was smart, and articulate, and he said all the right things.
I was so excited when he was elected Prime Minister if Israel. When congress gave him a standing ovation, after he delivered a powerful and moving speech about the historic and strategic importance of Jerusalem, I was filled with pride. I naively thought that we finally had a Prime Minister who would really lead the Jewish people.
Then he sold us out. First he signed the Hevron Protocol, giving over control of Hevron to our enemies, essentially retracting everything he had so persuasively presented to congress. Then he signed the Wye Accords, further implementating the policies advocated by his political opponents. At that point, I realized that Netanyahu was a politician, just like everyone else.
Despite his perfect English, he did not internalize, nor abide by, the basic democratic principal that he is a representative of the people who voted for him. I determined never to support him in politics again.
Back to the Present:
With a strong Likud list, and Moshe Feiglin in a realistic spot, I would have voted for the Likud, even with Netanyahu at its head.
But then, Netanyahu went on a crusade against Feiglin. Netanyahu did everything in his power to oust Feiglin. Eventually he succeeded, let the voters be damned!
I was disgusted by Netanyahu's anti-democratic, megalomaniac actions.
For a few days, I felt lost. For whom would I vote?
For years, I had supported the Ichud HaLeumi. This year, the Ichud HaLeumi and the Mafdal disbanded, to form a new, joint list. An oddly formed committee created a watered down party, called the Bayit HaYehudi. (What? They couldn't come up with a better name?) The new party list had almost no serious right-wing representatives in realistic slots. I could not vote for them.
I could not vote for anyone.
I am a firm believer that it is our civic duty to vote!
Then the Ichud HaLeumi regrouped, joined with several other parties, and reestablished a pluralistic, serious, right-wing party, with religious and secular representatives.
(Eventually, the Bayit HaYehudi dropped the pretense of being anything other than "The New Mafdal")
Ah! Now I could vote!
I actively supported the Ichud HaLeumi. As their numbers rose in the polls, I even harbored the hope that Uri Bank (read Rafi's excellent interview here) would be elected. Uri Bank is honest, dedicated, and approachable. I would love to see him in the Knesset!
Then the political waters grew murky.
Yisrael Beiteinu, Lieberman's party, started growing in numbers. At first, this seemed to be a positive development. Netanyahu would have to include Yisrael Beiteinu in his government, and that would pull the coalition to the right. But, as the party grew, it became clear that Lieberman was pulling votes from the Likud.
At first, I thought "let that be a lesson for Netanyahu!"
I wanted Netanyahu to learn that his shenanigans cost him votes.
Given that Netanyahu would be the next Prime Minister, I wanted him to appreciate that he has a responsibility to the electorate and cannot simply do whatever he wants.
Meanwhile, I staunchly advocated for the Ichud HaLeumi. I argued that they are the only serious right-wing party and that the Ichud HaLeumi has the potential to keep the Likud on a strong, nationalist track.
But as Election Day approached, it became increasingly less certain that the Likud would receive the most votes.
If the Likud is not the largest party, then Netanyahu will not be forming the next government, nor will he be Prime Minister.
Now, that would be the ultimate lesson for him, but the cost to Israel would be too high.
Our next government will either be formed by Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud or by Tzippy Livni and Kadima.
As much as I distrust and disrespect Bibi Netanyahu, I would absolutely choose him over Tzippy Livni.
As dawn breaks on Election Day in Israel, I am suddenly stumped.
The Ichud HaLeumi might be an influential party, but only if the Likud includes it in the government. If the Ichud HaLeumi is not in the government, it will have no influence at all.
The Likud might form a right-wing government, or it might form a left-wing coalition with Kadima and Labor. I would not want to support the Likud, should it choose the latter option.
Do I vote for the party that best represents me?
Do I vote for the party that I hope will form the next government?
Last night, I knew for whom I would vote.
This morning, I am unsure.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,