Yes, Netanyahu is facing corruption probes and is practically annexing the West Bank. But for many Jewish Israelis, he has also provided relative security, a better economy, and growing international legitimacy — which makes the unknown alternative much worse.
Benjamin Netanyahu won his fifth election campaign Tuesday, making him Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. Most Israeli citizens, and an overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis, prefer to continue with the exact same policies that the Likud has put forward over the past decade. These voters rejected most of the far-right, fundamentalist parties that call for formal annexation, turned the Zionist left into an insignificant minority in the Knesset, and kept Netanyahu in power, despite the several political corruption charges he is facing.
Why did they do that? Why do people vote for someone who proudly stands for hatred and racism? For a leader who proliferates apartheid policies and occupation as he moves forward with partial annexation, and repeatedly attacks democratic institutions such as the courts, the free press and civil society? Why condone political corruption?
In fact, there are quite a few good reasons why. This is not an attempt to justify Netanyahu’s victory or policies, but rather to offer an analysis of the considerations Jewish Israelis are likely taking into account when they interpret their political realities and perceive the risks they face.
1. Security: The numbers tell the entire story. According to B’Tselem, between the start of the Second Intifada in late 2000 and the end of the 2009 war in Gaza, 1,072 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, while 6,303 Palestinians were killed by Israelis. Shortly after the 2009 Gaza War ended, Netanyahu took office. In the ten years since, 195 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, and 3,485 Palestinians were killed by Israelis, predominantly during Israel’s 2014 assault on in Gaza.
Over the past decade, there were no wars with Lebanon, the Syrian civil war did not filter through the Israeli border, and Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria went generally unanswered. Netanyahu has been able to manage the occupation and the siege in Gaza, as well as the Syrian-Iranian front, in a way that costs far less Israeli lives than in the previous decade, which Israelis remember well. In the early 2000s, Israeli civilians were confronted with the consequences of occupation inside Israel, through suicide attacks and rocket fire. Under Netanyahu, the occupation goes...Read More