Israel Votes for Violence
War and violence always have a direct effect on elections. Wars account for dramatic shifts in voter preferences, and radical leaders and parties often poll much higher after a round of sharp violence than in normal times. Minority ethnic groups are therefore often able to sway the balance of power between major competing forces.
This appears to have been precisely what has happened in Israel’s recent election. Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party and the even harder right Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party achieved a dominant result that saw Labor, the dominant party throughout Israel’s history, consigned to a lowly fourth place.
Throughout the campaign, Israeli leaders competed over who would deal more firmly (read: violently) with the Palestinians. In the aftermath of Israel’s assault on Gaza, Palestinians hoped that Israel would choose a leader who would focus on the need to end the suffering, lift the siege, and begin rebuilding. It appears that just the opposite has happened.