Israel’s election in 1 picture and 1 word: Bibinett
In my mind, the central theme of the 2013 Israeli elections was that there was no challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Within that context, all the main political battles that took place occurred within the political blocs: Yechimovich vs Lapid vs Livni; but more interestingly, between Netanyahu and Habayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett. The latter were canvassing for essentially the same voter base. And if the polls hold true, Bennett emerged victorious – even if he is not crowned prime minister. He will be a major player in the next governing coalition.
Why did Bennett do so well? How did he manage to take away so many votes from the Likud? And how did they succeed in attracting voters so distant from their traditional national religious Zionist base?
For one, Bennett modeled himself on Netanyahu, and that drove the prime minister absolutely up the wall. And talking about walls, take a look at the following two pictures, I think they speak volumes about the two men, and the battle they waged between them.
Bennett did what no other religious and right wing politician has managed to do since Netanyahu: attract secular right-wing voters. Bennett managed to break out of the sectoral pigeonhole that his national religious predecessors locked themselves into and appealed to a much broader, wider audience – directly threatening the Likud voter base. On the personal level [and these elections were all about personalities, not platforms] Bennett managed to unhinge Netanyahu, to an extent that the Prime Minister thought it necessary to attack [his protege?] all throughout the campaign with some of the most vicious political and personal attacks seen around here for quite some time. The fact that Netanyahu had nobody to fight on the Left, left him free to fight his challenger from the Right. But this seems to have backfired, as many on the Right were confused by Netanyahu’s attacks on Bennett: “What our enemy is now on the right, not on the left?” Bennett became the underdog, and Netanyahu became the bully. Bennett as David and Netanyahu as Goliath. And nobody likes Goliath.
And so, my image and word for the singular most important theme of these elections is: Bibinett
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