Well, it’s Bibi again.

Frankly I’m disappointed that Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s Likud party won the election. I was excited to see what a more liberal leader could have done for the country, a leader like Isaac “Bougie” Herzog or Tzipi Livni, the center-left leaders of the Zionist Union party. The Zionist Union was the Likud party’s strongest contender in the elections, and is progressive and open to negotiations with the Palestinian government over a 2-state solution. It would have been interesting to see Israel move away from the extremist right-wing, war-hawkish policies of the last few years, policies which have severely damaged its relationship with foreign countries.

11-year old Hodaya, putting her mother's ballot in the box.
11-year old Hodaya, putting her mother’s ballot in the box.

The Zionist Union was a few points up on Likud in the polls, until Bibi – hours before the polls opened announced that he was against a Palestinian state.

Bibi, moving forever toward the right. He’s also recently announced an initiative to settle more Jews in East Jerusalem, and has long pushed through legislation for settlement construction in the West Bank.

A lot of Israelis, and a majority of voters on my kibbutz, see Bibi as the Bridge-Burner. They are tired of him and feel like he’s just leading Israel down the road to conflict, angering neighboring countries and allies, and leading to more wars like this summer’s Operation Protective Edge. Though, to be fair, a lot of Israelis also view summer wars as routine and inevitable.

This election was full of defensive language. Protect Israel against the Arabs! Vote to maintain a Jewish state! Etc.

Bibi’s Likud party’s slogan was, “It’s Us or Them.”

"It's Us or Them - Only Likud, Only Netanyahu"
“It’s Us or Them – Only Likud, Only Netanyahu”

His main opposition, the Zionist Union, was, “It’s Us or Him [Bibi].”

"It's Us or Him [Bibi]" Bougie (left) and Livni (right)
“It’s Us or Him [Bibi]”
Bougie (left) and Livni (right)
Israelis have more reason than most to worry for the future of their country, and it’s clear from the outcome of this election that many are  worried. Israelis were enticed by Bibi’s hard right-wing stance, his “Us or Them” vision. However, I’m afraid a policy of closed doors will isolate Israel even further.

Suggested articles for further reading:

Netanyahu Victory Leaves Damage In Its Wake (The Associated Press)

Netanyahu says No to Statehood for Palestinians (The NYT)

Live Blog of Election (Haaretz*)

Herzog Concedes Defeat, Says ‘Nothing Has Changed’ (Israel HaYom*)

*Haaretz is a liberal Israeli paper, and Israel HaYom is the conservative government paper. Israel HaYom is also provided free to the public, while you need a subscription to read most of Haaretz’s content…make of that what you will.

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