While in most countries immigration moves the electorate to the left, in Israel immigration moved the country to the right. In the United States the left is counting on demographics to make it easier for them to win elections, but in Israel demographic shifts have made it easier for the right to win.
But the biggest problem for the Israeli left is that it’s tethered to its own version of ObamaCare in the form of the Palestinian Authority which won’t make peace, won’t stop funding terrorism and won’t stop playing the victim. As with ObamaCare, the Israeli left teeters between running on the disastrous peace process that everyone hates and pivoting away from it toward economic bread and butter issues.
For Obama and European leaders, Israel is reducible to the peace process. And the Israeli left depends on the support of foreign governments for its network of foreign funded non-profit organizations. The Israeli left can’t let go of its exploding version of ObamaCare because the left is becoming a foreign organization with limited domestic support. Its electorate isn’t in Israel; it’s in Brussels.
The Israeli left is short on ideas, both foreign and domestic, and its last remaining card is Obama.
Escalating a crisis in relations has been the traditional way for US administrations to force Israeli governments out of office. Bill Clinton did it to Netanyahu and as Israeli elections appear on the horizon Obama would love to do it all over again.
There’s only one problem.
The United States is popular in Israel, but Obama isn’t. Obama’s spats with Netanyahu ended up making the Israeli leader more popular. The plan was for Obama to gaslight Israelis by maintaining a positive image in Israel while lashing out at the Jewish State so that the blame would fall on Netanyahu.
That was what Obama’s trip to Israel had been about. While his approval ratings in Israel briefly picked up, they clattered down again over his attitude during the recent Hamas war. Polls show that the majority of Israelis don’t trust him to have their back on Islamic terrorism or Iran. And that’s bad news for him and for an Israeli left that needs to sell the image of a good Obama and a bad Netanyahu.
The foreign policy crowd is divided on whether Obama should intervene in Israel’s elections and how much. Trial balloons being floated show that Obama Inc. is at the very least willing to play coy about suggestions of sanctioning Israel. The sanctions are unlikely to ever get past Congress, but they never have to exist. Obama’s people are letting the Israeli left and their media outlet Haaretz do the heavy lifting by drawing up political doomsday scenarios and then issuing non-denial denials.
The idea is to undermine Netanyahu without getting Obama’s hands dirty. Anonymous leaks provide plausible deniability without anything that can officially be traced back to Obama. While Obama, Biden and Hillary spin the attacks as “normal disagreements between friends” for the consumption of Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, the Israeli left warns that the relationship between America and Israel has been completely wrecked.
While Jewish Democrats have remained oblivious, as intended, these tactics have only hurt Obama’s image among the Israeli target audience. And that has strengthened Netanyahu’s image as a strong leader willing to stand up for his country’s interests.
In trying to weaken Netanyahu, Obama only made him stronger.
The Israeli left however isn’t done yet. Unpopular with the public, its members still control the police, the judiciary, the media, academia and the entertainment industry. They form the Israeli “Deep State” made up of everyone from top security officials to the media who are constantly warning about the threats to democracy from democracy, the dangers of right-wing extremism and the need to crack down on “incitement” which usually means any view that diverges from that of the left.
When it comes to elections, the left compensates for its unpopularity with fake third parties that claim to be centrist or reformist. Yesh Atid, the current incarnation of the fake third party built around an anchorman who went from high school dropout to the Minister of Finance, is sinking, but it had already fulfilled its purpose. The next incarnation of the fake third party will be headed by Moshe Kahlon.
Moshe Kahlon is a familiar figure, a defector from the conservative Likud party, a fake moderate who claims that the “extreme right” has taken over his old party. Swap out Reagan for Begin and it’s the exact same rhetoric you can hear from a Charlie Crist or a Larry Pressler.
The left may not be able to win a popularity contest, let alone a contest of ideas, but it has been agile at manipulating Israel’s multi-party system to its advantage. It doesn’t need to beat the right. It just needs to build a coalition out of fake third parties fueled by public frustration with the existing dominant parties while finding ways to splinter the right. And that’s where Obama can do the most harm.
Obama has failed at winning over Israelis, but he doesn’t need to if he can force Netanyahu to make enough concessions to destroy his image. And then the right begins to eat itself. It’s the same tactic that Obama used against Congressional Republicans. Uniting the left and dividing the right had worked well in America. Netanyahu’s willingness to compromise has lost the right without winning over anyone else.
Netanyahu may not be beatable this time around, but if his coalition can be watered down with enough leftists then it compromises his ability to get anything done while creating a ticking time bomb. New elections are the result of the ticking time bomb finally going off. The “inclusive” coalition favored by this administration last time around effectively undermined the Netanyahu government.
If a more solid conservative coalition emerges from the election then Obama will have lost. But the overall relationship would remain unchanged even if the left won.
No Israeli government can deliver the things that Obama wants because they are physically impossible. The PLO does not want peace. It will not agree to any final deal that ends all future demands on Israel and all justifications for violence against the Jewish State. And even if such a deal were reached, it would have no impact on Hamas which controls Gaza and will control the West Bank. Nor would it make the regional Muslim violence that the conflict is frequently blamed for vanish into thin air.
Even a government of the left would still be berated because there are Jews living in Jerusalem and across Israel in places that Obama disapproves of. No Israeli government could ethnically cleanse a quarter of a million Jews. And even if it did, new demands and claims of occupied territory would follow.
A government of the left can however give Obama political cover. It would avoid making statements about Iran and freely put Israeli lives at risk to meet administration demands. Its members would help Obama maintain the illusion of a friendly relationship no matter how ugly things become behind the scenes. There would be no more public tension and nothing to raise questions for American Jews.
And that’s what Obama really wants. Israel is meant to be a scapegoat in foreign affairs and a safe fundraising line for Democratic politicians. It’s supposed to take the blame for Obama’s foreign policies while posing for photos with him for Jewish audiences.
That’s where Netanyahu rocked the boat by speaking out. That’s what infuriates Obama.
Obama’s ideal Israeli government would allow itself to be berated and blamed for everything without ever speaking up in its own defense. It would be pathetically grateful for any attention from Obama. That’s all the Israeli left can offer him and it can’t even deliver that because it can’t win.