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The Likud presents: The craziest, most radical list ever expected to win elections

Knesset members behind attacks on the left, Arabs and asylum seekers won the day at the Likud primaries. All moderates but one were pushed down the list, and probably won’t serve in the next Knesset.

The Likud, Israel’s ruling party the last four years, and the one expected to win the next elections according to every poll I have seen since 2009 (!), held its primaries on Sunday and Monday. The outcome was somewhat expected but is still stunning, and more than anything, it reveals the deep change Israel is going through.

The top of the ticket will be held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Roughly one-third of the seats will go to Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, as part of the deal on the joint ticket the two parties reached (Lieberman himself will hold the number two spot); therefore, only the first 20 candidates on the Likud list are expected to enter the Knesset.

All the so-called Likud “moderates,” except for Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, were pushed out of the top seed and will probably be out of the Knesset; that includes ministers Benny Begin, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor. The most vocal backbenchers – those behind attacks on the left, Arabs and human rights NGOs – won the day. The Likud looks right now like the Tea Party’s dream team.


#1 in the Likud primaries is Gidon Sa’ar, the current education minister and the person behind the school trips that take Israeli children to the settlement in occupied Hebron, and the effort to open a university in the settlement of Ariel. He also has a lot to do with the attempt to shut down the Department of Government and Politics at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva.

#5 Danny Danon: One of the most extreme right-wing Knesset members, who incited against asylum seekers in the rally that turned into a riot in Tel Aviv. Danon was the man who brought Glenn Beck to Israel.

#6 (Reuven Rivlin) and #12 (Tzipi Hotovely) support annexing the West Bank. To their credit, they also toy with the idea of giving full citizen rights to the Palestinian population. Hotovely once organized a Knesset hearing on “the problem” of Jewish-Arab interracial relationships.

#8 Ze’ev Elkin, the brains behind many recent anti-democratic legislative attempts – including the infamous “boycott law.”

#9 Yariv Levin: Not as high-profile as Danon, but even more active. Levin led the effort to pack the Supreme Court with conservative judges. He took part in the effort to limit the funding of human rights NGOs and in the legislation of the boycott law. Levin led the committee that drafted the law forcing a national referendum in the event of a retreat from any territory held by Israel.

#13 Miri Regev, former IDF spokesperson, who called Arab MKs “traitors” and referred to asylum seekers from Africa as a “cancer.”

#14 Moshe Feiglin, who wants the state to encourage Palestinians – he once referred to them as parasites – to leave the country. Feiglin’s claim to fame was the civil disobedience campaign he launched against the Oslo Accord. One of his latest op-eds was titled, “I am a proud homophobe.”

#18 OfirJoe McCarthy was right about everythingAkunis: The sponsor of the anti-NGO bill.

Here is the full list of the first 20 names (the final list will be a bit different due to affirmative action and other internal Likud procedures – and remember that we are still waiting for Lieberman’s men): 1. Gidon Sa’ar; 2. Gilad Erdan; 3. Silvan Shalom; 4. Yisrael Katz; 5. Danny Danon; 6. Reuven Rivlin; 7. Moshe Ya’alon; 8. Ze’ev Elkin; 9. Yariv Levin; 10. Yuli Edelstein; 11. Haim Katz; 12. Tzipi Hotovely; 13. Miri Regev; 14. Moshe Feiglin; 15. Yuval Steinitz; 16. Tzachi Hanegbi; 17. Limor Livnat; 18. Ofir Akunis; 19. Gila Gamliel; 20. Carmel Shama-Hacohen.

One final note: More than anything, this list is the result of the occupation. The longer it lasts, the crazier this country gets. And it’s happening faster than people think.

UPDATE: a few more details that I missed last night (source: Ynet): Yariv Levin attempted to give the Likud-controlled Knesset authority over the identity of Supreme Court judges and to forbid the High Court from overruling Knesset legislation; he also tried to change the definition of the state from “Jewish and Democratic” to “A Jewish state with a democratic system,” to make it clear which comes first. Levin, Elkin and Hotuvaly tried to impose Israeli law on the Jewish settlement in the West Bank – practically annexing the occupied territories without giving the Palestinians any rights; the three, together with MK Regiv, initiated a law forcing the government to have Knesset approval for any diplomatic agreement. Dannon and Elkin want to change the law regarding the administration of state land so it would be managed “for the benefit of the Jewish people,” thus making it difficult to create zoning plans for Arabs; and there is more. Much more. 

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    1. The Trespasser

      Finally the Palestinians are gonna get exactly what they’ve been asking for.

      It took a long while but for now it seems that there is not enough delusional people in Israel to make something as stupid as Rabin did.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Bibi has had a dreadful fall, hasn’t he? (pun intended). Over the last 2 months or so, he has managed to put together a rather long string of failures – some of them downright abysmal! Here are the ones the pop to my mind:
      – “this is a bomb, this is the fuse…” ‘Nuff said.
      – Mitt Romney… again, ’nuff said.
      – Nephtali Benet
      – Likud Beiteynu going from 42 seats in the current knesset to likely between 30-40 seats in the next one, with the difference likely going to center parties.
      – Operation pillar of cloud. Probably the dumbest thing Bibi did during his premiership, and had enough sense to recognize that and put an end to it relatively quickly.
      – Likud becoming probably the most despicable party running in this election outside of Michael Ben Ari. Moshe Feiglin is finally in!
      To paraphrase Queen Elizabeth II: This has truly been an annus horribilis for poor Bibi! 🙂

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        One less successful (by an extremely unprofessional opinion) year is really nothing compare to… how many decades of constant failures of the Left?

        And it all started with one idiot who thought that he’s so smart he could negotiate with terrorists. Good riddance.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      Get involved in politics Noam.

      You are a wonderful journalist, (a needed voice) but journalism is also a negligence to accomplish what one is writing about.

      If not you, then encourage someone with competence, sensitivity and clarity to organize an electoral presence.

      Put your weight into it.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Don’t get involved in politics, Noam: you will trampled into the ground of righteousness.

      #9: is the national referendum a bill or already a law?

      Since the Citizenship Law case decision I have seen Israel as entering its dark time in law (on some analogy with Plessy making most segregation the law of the land in about 1880 America). The apartheid poll confirms it, as do these listing. You are a country without a solid rights jurisprudence, and the struggle to achieve one, which will perforce have to be outside the Knesset, will be very difficult. I still have minor hope that the Court will veer away from this somewhat if its turf is attacked directly, but even then all I can envision is a very long battle against a corporate racial nationalism.

      As to what Witty says, above, I quote this:

      “We cannot defeat you, so we prepare the ground for after your defeat.”

      Reply to Comment
      • richard witty


        Reply to Comment
        • Richard Witty

          Still, criticizing or even complaining about political reality, rather than taking the responsibility to participate in electoral change (that’s how laws are passed), is a means to keep things the same.

          It is much better for all concerned than the vanity of even correctly stating “I told you so”.

          If not Noam, then some other skilled, competent, committed, kind group that can make an effective pragmatic argument and can implement that argument responsibly.

          Reply to Comment
          • I understand what you mean, Richard, and I know the journalists on this site don’t need me given “advise.” I am the view that social action must make a case which can later help form a jurisprudence and begin to shift public opinion. Democracy measures electoral sentiment. Rights are supposed to limit actualization of that sentiment. And as I have said too often here, until you have an expansion of rights jurisprduence within Israel, how can you expect change in IDF procedure? This fight is neither the American South nor South Africa, at is appears to be coming into a long dark time. So you begin to prepare now for the disasters surely to come.

            Reply to Comment
          • richard witty

            Electoral politics is both a leading and a following effort at political education and community building.

            It anything the commitment to prepare for an election is a great motivator to learn, to listen, to organize, to intentionally coach and supportqualified candidates for the future needs, by forward vision of future needs.

            Israeli elections are set in danger more than intentional development. This election is an example. Like in the us election, the primary arguments are, and really are, “what will happen to us if this idiot is elected again”. We have to go further argue for a positively constructed set of objectives.

            Most important is to do that work before the two months before an election.

            I liked the prospect of the social movements going further in cultural and economic organizing that put in practice color-blind equality and invitation to neighborly participation.

            Reply to Comment
    5. XYZ

      I am confused. This list is “worse” than the previous Likud list? Did you ever tell us that you believed the old “moderate” Likud would have made peace?

      I also fail to see how having Israeli schoolchildren take trips to Hevron makes one into a wild-eyed radical.

      Reply to Comment
      • Sam

        Because the trips are divorced from the political context. I’m sure the children won’t learn about what the Palestinians of Hebron have to endure from the IDF and the settlers themselves but there will be plenty of time spent on “This rock is a Jewish rock and these Palis just want us dead.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Piotr Berman

          One problem with the list is that the balance between more reality-based Zionists and incompetent loudmouths shifted toward the latter. This happens in the context of ill-conceived “Pillar of Cloud” and the diplomatic setback at UN (that did not have to be a setback if Israel simply did not oppose Abbas on a relatively unimportant issue).

          Saar’s educational trips to Hebron can be educational indeed. Education minister from Sweden who was the most pro-Israel member of the coalition government there visited Israel and took the trip. However, he had his own guides, including an Arab, and lucky for him, his own Swedish security detail that had to subdued a settler enraged by the view of an Arab. I have no idea what children endure in this crazy place.

          Saar’s war on Political Science Department of BGU will be his private Pillar of Cloud. There is no way it will turn out nicely. It will be another “taming of NGOs” (a failed project of the current coalition).

          Feiglin wants to rebuild the Temple, which even if Arabs did not exist, has ominous implication for Jews — giving supreme power to Sanhedin to make Israel a smaller copy of Iran. Why “the West” should support a mini-Iran if it can get along very well with the actual Iran instead?

          And do not imagine that Netanyahu will be effective in controlling this crowd.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Aaron Gross

      You’re complaining! What about me? I’m going to have to vote for these clowns. Danny Danon, Moshe Feiglin – sheesh. It’s enough to make me glad that Silvan Shalom came in third. He may not be too bright, but at least he’s not ready for the loony bin.

      Though, to tell the truth, some of the sane ones are just as scary. Reuben Rivlin and his one-state fantasies. Well, that’s parliamentary democracy. Remember that, for good or ill, in Israel there’s only one slot in the list that really matters, and that’s the first, Binyamin Netanyahu.

      Reply to Comment
    7. XYZ

      The “Progressives” are always telling us that everything in Israel has “political context”. For example, the TAGLIT-Birthright program is criticized by them by taking participants to Tel Aviv and “neglecting” to them about how neighboring Yafo which is now part of the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality was “nakbaed” in 1948 and how the the Ramat Aviv neighborhood was once the Arab village of Sheikh Munis, and how Arabs were coerced against their will due to Zionist pressure to sell the original land Tel Aviv was established on in 1909 etc, etc. You can just as easily say “This rock is a Jewish rock and these Palis just want us dead” in Tel Aviv as in Hevron. Remember just a few days ago HAMAS was firing rockets at Tel Aviv. Everything here has “political context”!

      Reply to Comment
      • Sam

        You’re right. Everything here does have political context. Although in Tel Aviv, the Arabs there are (in the eyes of the law) equal citizens, and don’t have to put up with the Army demanding to search them at gunpoint. Not so behind the barricades in Hebron.

        Reply to Comment
    8. About 10 years ago I interviewed Feiglin in his office, and he had a doctored photo on the wall of the Temple Mount minus Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. It’s a very popular photo w/the far right, expressing their goal.

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        I don’t see how you are any different than Feiglin, you came to a country that had an Arab majority population at one time, and as they see it, people like you came, UNIVITED and set up a country with a map that has similarities to Feiglin’s picture….an Israel, up to the Green Line with the Arab towns that existed before 1948 erased from the map and with your Jewish cities imposed instead, just as Feiglin’s picture erases the Arab shrines on the Temple Mount and replaces them with the Jewish Holy Temple. What is the difference between the two of you, really?

        Reply to Comment
        • The Trespasser


          If things will get really hot one will fight and another will flee.

          Reply to Comment
        • SanMan

          And if the Palestinians were too weak to hold onto there land then they deserve to lose it. Simple really.

          Reply to Comment
        • We all get, hiding XYZ, that you are all for racial expungement, seeing it as righteous national action. The position of the Israeli left is to stop encroachment now, not reverse from the 47 line granted by the UN. To let Palestinians live the chance of a fair life where they are now is to also let Israelis doso within their State boundary. What you are trying to do here is create an ideology purity test for acceptable residence in Israel. But your Declaration of Indpendence is, alas for you, much more liberal than that. Free ingress into Israel for Jews is free ingress–even if they believe Palestinians should be allowed their homes.

          Reply to Comment
          • XYZ

            The Palestinians view themselves as fighting for what they (wrongly) believe is justice, not merely to prevent things from getting worse, as you believe. That is why no Palestinian leader can give up the “Right of Return” of the refugees. Therefore they don’t view any difference between Derfner and Feiglin. It is just that Feiglin is more honest about his position.

            Reply to Comment
    9. Shaun

      Democracy sucks when the other guys win.

      Reply to Comment
      • Mitchell Cohen

        If this was facebook, your comment would get a “like” from me big time….

        Reply to Comment
        • You live in Efrat, if I remember correctly. You have a few million near neighbours who don’t get a political voice. They’re under military rule, and the treatment they receive is influenced by the vote of people like you.

          ‘Democracy’ really sucks when it consists of the other guys sitting around deciding just how repressive to be to you.

          Reply to Comment
    10. This “expected to win” stuff has a sell-by date. I think the Likud’s new lineup is a tragic mistake on their part. It reminds me of McCain choosing Sarah Palin as a running mate. Those extremists swayed the Likud’s base, but most Israeli voters do not want that kind of extremism in power.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        Most Israeli voters also do not want any missiles raining on TLV and JLM.

        Since Arab extremists only understand even greater extremists the choice is obvious for anyone.

        Reply to Comment
    11. Christopher Ellis

      Why worry about mad Arabs? Why not simply implode, with Internal Extremists? Some voted fro Hamas: some will vote for these guys. What happens to the rest, who did not vote for these twisted dolts? I have spent my life, looking on, it hurts.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Richard Witty

      This is list is predictable. It is their intention to form a “super-party”, that could only be opposed by a comparable “super-party” opposition.

      It represents a drift, more than a drift, away from multi-party coalition governance (with very distinct and often conflicting coalition partners) to a two or three party system. (The two party system is the US and Great Britain. The three party system is the Orwellian description of 1984 as an alternating ganging of the 2 party coalition on the remaining minority.)

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Witty

        The dividing lines of the parties (likely three distinct perspectives) is already mapped out, with the different weights of grey between the balance of Jewish and democratic.

        The likud/Israel Beitanhu’s emphasis is 90% Jewish, maybe 10% democratic.

        The centrist Kadima and Labor and other stand alone parties, is closer to 60% Jewish, 40% democratic.

        The Hadash, Meretz and other Arab parties to a lesser extent, emphasize maybe 0-10% Jewish and 90-100% democratic.

        The socialist vision that filled early labor governments, that prominently included democratic in their mix of Jewish and democratic, is very weak, if existent at all in Israeli politics.

        Noone is arguing FOR the democratic emphasis so much as against the nationalist.

        To the extent that that continues, that those that regard the democratic in the formula as pragmatically superior emphasis (not just ideologically) do not take the responsibility undertake the education in a positive manner (not as contempt), then nothing will change at all, or maybe things will get worse.

        Reply to Comment
        • Piotr Berman

          I try to see it in more universal terms, after all, the world has many unique and exceptional countries, so they are not THAT unique and exceptional.

          One opposition is to have a boring rule, a.k.a. technocrats who solve little boring problems, or to have excitement, like hunt for the enemies of the nation. Fans of excitement often talk on apocalyptic terms, but in actuality they are far from paranoid (hopefully! hopefully! when they are, they may volunteer too die for common good, in a war or in an assassination of a traitor). So in Poland there is quite a bit of talk about traitors etc. but people who crave that excitement are in minority, ca. 30%. In Israel it is more like 60%, but any few are truly paranoid.

          Reply to Comment
    13. Idan

      I have to object to the writer’s seeming attitude to Hevron. Jews have lived in Hevron for centuries. Does the writer think we should abandon such a place? As Jews, even secular, I think we have an obligation to our people to hold on to such sites as Maarat Hamachpela, and not let yet another Jewish site become blocked from Jewish presence.

      Reply to Comment
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