Israel has held two national elections since April, but the country is so perfectly divided that it still hasn’t been able to produce a governing coalition. There are three trends worth noting, though, after these two Israeli elections — especially if you’re President Trump.
First, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu deployed openly racist tropes against Israeli Arabs to motivate his own hard-right base to get out and vote. Israeli Arabs finally had enough and basically said to Bibi: “You talking to us?’’ And in the second election in September they voted in huge numbers and created the third-largest party in Israel, weakening Netanyahu’s ability to form a new government. You never know whom you’re arousing when you start using dog whistles. Just sayin’, Mr. Trump.
Second, Bibi was everywhere on television and on social networks — Twitter, Facebook and Israeli websites. In contrast, his main opponent, retired Gen. Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, was quiet, low-key and nowhere nearly as visible. People warned Gantz that Bibi was eating him alive on social media. And what happened?
Thousands of Israelis got sick of the noise — Bibi’s constant tweets and other appearances, hogging and clogging the media landscape — and they switched their votes between the first and second elections, making boring Benny’s party the biggest party in Israel, instead of Bibi’s Likud.
Finally, a good number of left-wing Israelis did not vote for the usual left-wing parties that favor a two-state solution with the Palestinians. They voted instead for Gantz’s centrist party, which offered no peace plan. Why?
They feared that another term of Netanyahu — with his divisiveness and nonstop attacks on the media and key institutions, like the courts and police — would rip apart Israel’s democracy. They feared this more than they did the Palestinians. They wanted someone who not only could beat Bibi but who could also be an antidote to him — someone to heal the country’s divisions before taking on a giant social engineering project like a two-state solution.