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A double whammy for American advisers to Israeli campaigns

Stan Greenberg and Arthur Finkelstein are both architects of two of the biggest election flops Israeli politics has ever seen.

First of all, let’s get things straight: these elections results show that the two evils – corporate capitalism and the occupation – will continue to reign supreme.

Yet, there are a few bright sides: mainly, Israel seems to be a bit less fascist. Just a tad. For example, Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari will not be in the Knesset (as of 99% of vote counted). Good riddance.

Also, there will be many more women in parliament than before, and more social activists. Over 50 new MKs will be sworn in – that’s quite a change.

But for me, I’m particularly happy about one thing that has ticked me off for years and will hopefully come to an end: the meddling of American advisers in Israeli elections.

Why are these people here to begin with? Let’s face it, it’s not their fault. It’s the people who hire them, still believing that those guys from the Goldena Medina must know better about everything, anywhere. Even on their own home turf.

So, is it true? Do they understand Israelis better than we do ourselves?

Let’s see:

Stan Greenberg: The polls at certain points had Labor well over 20 seats, yet they ended with a mere 15 seats (99% of the vote counted). A mere two seats more than the all-time low that Ehud Barak was responsible for. It takes American genius to only get two more seats after the social protests that should have boosted Labor sky high, if they had played their cards right.

Arthur Finkelstein: According to reports, Finkelstein (who left the country just days before the election) was the architect of unifying Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, worth 42 seats back then. They’ve dropped to 33, maybe less (99% of the vote counted).

A word to Stan and Arthur: Go home, and stay home.

A word to Israeli parties: Go local. And grow up. The fetish with everything American is so 80s.

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    1. Piotr Berman

      I am not sure if the fault is in the American addresses of the two gentlemen.

      Arthur Finkelstein is a dinosaur on the American scene. His specialty was attacking Democrats as “liberals” which worked for several election cycles. In a nutshell, it is a scare tactic with an obvious limitation that it can boomerang. People haranguing how scary others are may end up projecting the scary picture of themselves.

      However, there may be big barriers for applicability even the best and most contemporary political techniques from USA. One aspect is two party system versus multiparty. Labor competed for the undecided voters with Yesh Atid, and failed to do it well. Was it just good looks of Lapid?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Evan

      Hate to break it to you but guess who else used a Jewish American political consultant: Lapid, who worked with Dem pollster Mark Mellman.

      Seems like that may complicate your thesis

      Reply to Comment
    3. “A word to Israeli parties: Go local. And grow up” : Failure to keep the party engines going between election cycles favours those who do keep theirs going–primarily, the religious right and settlers. I think this election shows a potential for such engines, but have no idea how one goes about constructing one.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Charles

      Some ‘American’ innovations are useful. Some are not. Only a fool would lump them all together.
      My own experience, reading Haaretz call these the first Israeli Facebook elections, is that a number of things that happen first in the US migrate quite well to Israel. But very few Israeli activists are in a position to discern what they are and implement then well in advance of their competition.
      Party structures reward loyalty more than innovation; as Israel has stronger parties than the US, it will always be a factor.

      Reply to Comment