The extensive differences between the Israeli political system and those of the UK or US lead to a tsunami of political misinformation. This allows critics to twist the facts skewing their reporting in a way which suits their own political leanings. Because of this, the success of Itamar Ben Gvir (Otzmah Yehudit party), Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism Party), and Avi Maoz (Noam Party) in the recent Israeli election have handed Israel’s enemies pure dynamite, and even some left-wing Jewish newspapers have eagerly joined in with the demonisation campaign.
This has left supporters of Israel – many of whom also have difficulty understanding Israeli politics – unable to properly counter the hostile narrative. Has Israel been handed to the extremists?
I wrote this piece to counter the heavily biased, misplaced, and toxic narrative we have seen since the Israeli election results came in. And specifically to answer those who have said that it has anything to do with ‘our worst fears‘.
Trust me on this – an all-out war with Iran, a massive attack from Hezbollah, or another Hamas-led suicide bombing campaign – all hold far more to fear than the 10.83% of the vote that a religious Zionist union received in a recent democratic election. But then again, maybe the fears of Israelis (who would have to pay the price of these attacks) and the fears of Jews living in the comfort of North London or New York (who would look on safely from afar) – are just not in alignment.
First my credentials
Five months ago I published a piece on the Israeli election that predicted:
- Gideon Sa’ar would likely unite his gang with another party – he did
- Meretz faced political oblivion – they were wiped out
- The issue of thresholds in the election would be extremely important – sure was
- Bennett’s party was finished – gone
- Biden would hand Lapid political presents before the election – the Lebanon Maritime deal anyone?
- Lapid’s party growth would come at the expense of his ‘friends’ – 100%
- The media’s anti-Bibi spin would mislead observers about his chances – no doubt
- The left would lose badly if they ran with a ‘just not Bibi’ campaign again – hey presto
What this is and what this is not
I am not here to take sides. Coalition politics is messy. I don’t remember a single Israeli government, of which one or more members were not viewed as ‘extreme’ by many. That is how coalition politics works. With the mainstream groups regarding each other as competitors for office, allies towards the fringe must be courted. It is an unfortunate but natural part of coalition politics. This has been exacerbated in recent times by the rise of an explicitly ‘anti-Bibi’ coalition. In essence the parties in the centre who are complaining about the make-up of the new government need to take a long hard look in the mirror. With whom can Netanyahu build a coalition if they all shun him?
The most extreme government in the history of the universe?
But I want to address the key claim – to prove it is little more than the narrative of Israel’s enemies. Namely, that this incoming Israeli government is ‘the most extreme government in the history of Israel’.
It is a claim being repeated throughout the west, mainly driven by left wing and centre-left media and politicians (examples 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). But is it true? The last coalition had Ra’am – a living, breathing, Islamist party on board. Sexist? Homophobic? Religious extremist? Ultra-conservative? Brotherhood inspired? You betcha! The ‘anyone but Bibi’ camp didn’t just hug that ‘clearly extreme’ party without a word – they hailed the union as a ‘success’ and then – without any air at all between them and coalition collapse – placed themselves in the unenviable position of being held hostage to an Islamist party at every single parliamentary vote. In theory, if Ben Gvir, Smotrich and Maoz all refused to vote for a government proposal in parliament, it could still pass – which gives Netanyahu room to breathe over his coalition outliers in a way Yair Lapid did not have over his.
What haters do however when those on the right win, is *always* suggest that the government is the most extreme in Israel’s history. With the general consensus of Israel’s critics – and ‘fair weather friends’ suggesting this is ‘the most extreme far right government that Israel has ever had‘ – I thought I would explore the truth:.
Haven’t we heard this all before?
This is what ‘Americans for Peace Now’ said following the 2019 election:
Or from the ‘Palestine Info centre’ following the 2015 election:
Anti-Israel propagandist Professor Kamel Hawwash following the 2013 election:
In the pre-Twitter days -a Foreign Policy article following the 2009 election:
An article from the World Socialist Website on Sharon’s electoral success in 2003:
How about Benny Morris on Netanyahu’s victory in 1996 (this was before the Second Intifada gave Morris his ‘Damascus moment‘):
Or a 1991 JTA article discussing Shamir’s 1990 coalition:
‘Most right wing’, ‘most extreme’ – these are leftist smears used to silence and demonise victory whenever the right-wing wins elections. There is a simple rule. When the Likud wins – the government is always labelled the ‘most extreme government in Israel’s history‘.
But what if?
But what if – as the haters will say – Israel is just growing more extreme with each election? Can’t all those tweets above (as absurd as they obviously are) be right? To put this to the test I looked at the 1990 Shamir government. The Israeli coalition before the ‘most extreme’ governments of 1996, 2003, 2009, 2013, 2015, 2019 and 2022 even existed.
After the 1988 election – there was a national unity coalition. This collapsed in 1990 – and as Shimon Peres was unable to put together enough support – it was Shamir that formed a new government. This is the ‘most right-wing government in Israel’s history‘ referenced above in the image from JTA. Just to prove this was not a one-off – it was also referenced as such in a Foreign Affairs article:
The 1990 coalition was the 24th government of the State of Israel. The coalition consisted of the orthodox parties – like ‘Shas’ and ‘Agudat Yisrael’. It also included no less than three ‘settler’ parties – the ‘National Religious Party’, ‘Tehiya’ and ‘Moledet’
The Moledet party explicitly advocated transfer. This from the NYT in November 1990:
Tehiya, another ‘ultranationalist’ party in the coalition, wanted to annex Gaza and *all of the land* on the west bank of the Jordan. The party was formed to oppose the peace deal with Egypt and part of its original platform was the retention and settlement of the Sinai. At the time of the coalition, Tehiya also advocated setting up a new settlement every time there was a terror attack against an Israeli civilian (it was the height of the first Intifada – so this was almost daily).
None of the political parties today have platforms less accommodating. It is telling that this coalition collapsed when Shamir signalled a willingness to make moves towards peace (NYT – Jan 1992):
There are several lessons in this. The one to stress at this point is that it doesn’t really matter what minority parties in the coalition think or believe. At the end of the day, it is the major party, that of the PM, which calls the shots. All the extremist parties can do when inevitably things go against them, is choose to leave. This is why Israeli coalitions seldom last the full term.
So most importantly, what of Likud?
All this means that the claim that the 2022 Netanyahu government is more extreme than Shamir’s seems wild from the outset. More so, given that each Likud victory since 1990 has been met with a similar claim. But I want to drive this home more forcefully. If the major player in a coalition is the one calling the shots – then to address the claim head-on simply becomes an exercise of comparing the 1988 and 2022 platforms of the winning party – the Likud. If the Likud party is visibly more extreme in 2022 than it used to be, then maybe the haters have a case.
Likud 1988 Election Platform
Aside from a blatant declaration that there will never be a ‘Palestinian state’ the 1988 Likud platform does not even contain the word ‘Palestinian’.
- 1988 Likud did not believe that Palestinians existed as a people.
- The platform says the Arabs already have 21 states.
- It makes clear claim to the Jewish state’s sovereignty over all of ‘Greater Israel’ – including Gaza.
- They stated they would never talk to Fatah.
- They promised to engage in massive settlement building campaigns
And on non security matters, 2022 Likud is far more socially progressive, diverse, inclusive – and aware of the needs of Israeli Arabs and other minority groups – than Shamir’s Likud could ever have been.
Which means the entirety of the 1990 coalition – including the largest party – held views more extreme than any party in the coalition today.
Ergo: Before Netanyahu’s’ most extreme government of 2022 – before the claims about the extremist governments of 2019, 2015, 2013, 2009, 2003 and before Netanyahu’s’ first coalition in 1996 – there was Shamir’s 1990 coalition. And it held positions more extreme than anything that exists today. The truth is that the Oslo peace process changed Israeli politics forever, shifting it leftwards, and nothing we have seen since comes close to what we had seen before.
Which means – support it or not – the claims about the Netanyahu coalition today are all false. You can dislike it – you can oppose the policies and positions it promotes – you can certainly find some characters within it odious – you can do all of this. But if you tell demonising lies about it, you are just spreading fake news and fuelling anti-Israel hate.
Ironically (although they will never admit it) – for all those who have been attacking Netanyahu relentlessly for the last few years – he is today the ‘dove in the camp’. Netanyahu is the experienced, well-oiled, political leader. Netanyahu is actually the saviour of the left-wing bloc that hates him so much.
And because he will lead the ruling party in the new coalition – this isn’t the most extreme government Israel has ever had.
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47 thoughts on “Israel – the most extreme government in the history of the universe?”
I completely understand why you have written this piece David and I also understand the target audience of intended recipients. I simply hope that this constituency does not comprise the secular Israeli Jews who want their children to continue to receive a well rounded secondary education rather than an abbreviated version where the emphasis is realigned to religious studies. I also hope that this is not read by hard working families on lower incomes who may find the cost of living rising and income support falling as public funds are diverted to haredi communities to support benefits payments to adults who chose not to work but to remain in torah learning. I also hope that no Israeli reads this who is gay or lesbian or has family members or friends who are. Similarly I hope that nobody is reading this who plans to make Aliyah as a convert or is already an Israeli, who perhaps may be serving in the IDF or studying at University, working in a career and paying their dues, but with only one Jewish grandparent.
These people may look on this article and see a sentiment which says “It’s bad but we’ve had worse”. This may or may not be true but some may consider that the alignment of the Likud with misogynists, racists, criminals and bigots, just to keep Mr Netanyahu out of prison may be just a little bit much.
not directed at Israelis, Ian, nor the many friends I have there – who I speak to regularly. I fight a different fight – against a different constituency – than the one you face over there.
Understood and acknowledged.
For the record I think that Mansoor Abbas and Ra’am made your task easier. A broad coalition of disparate parties and ideologies could only deliver pragmatic politics under Mr. Bennett and very real representation for the widest constituency of Israelis. I fear that a coalition that is simply shades of black will present somewhat different challenges.
from your comments you obviously do NOT live in Israel.
Perhaps, just perhaps you will come here and then you may just understand how incorrect you are!
Funny thing is that whenever you read through the Guardian comments section (not recommended) you will see poster after poster calling for (Israeli style) PR here in the UK
They see it as a way to leverage more extreme left wing politics into government by way of a coalition of other left wing political parties…
What they forget about in this scenario is that PR would also help more extreme right wing politics too !
Remember when UKIP won 12.5% of the vote in the 2015 election? Under a system of PR this would have given them 82 seats in that Parliament! As well as a big say in government policy!
This is the problem with hard core leftists they just don’t think things through properly
Why do the Jews of the Diaspora get taken in by comments in the media – simple – they hate the thought of a Jew standing up for his civil rights in his ancient Sovereign land and not being liberal woke left.
It only needs one English Language Israeli newspaper to make comments about extremism, before the pack follow.
But such terminology is never used in the press for the PA/PLO/PLFP/Hamas/Hezbollah/ISIS/Islamic Jihad etc because the editors/owners have an agenda to besmirch only Jews who have self-pride and dignity. The same goes for Israel’s TV and radio.
GREAT comment Dr. Leci
Congratulations David! This was a superb piece of research, and I admire you greatly for it.
Funny isn’t it that all the western liberal ‘progressive’ democracies are so totally in love with misogynistic, homophobic and tyrannical Palestinian regimes/parties/groups that are invariably unelected, or whose elections were 14+ years ago. And they demand that Israel negotiates with these Antisemitic racist groups by surrendering its security.
Israel has the fairest most open elections in the Middle East/North Africa and all these western ‘progressives’ do all in their power to delegitimise the choices made by the Israeli electorate.
Talk of rank HYPOCRACY. The western ‘progressives’, and their various supporters, are a self indulgent group of two faced hypocrites
The likud is a leftist party, therefore non of the governments could possibly be called “right wing”. This one won’t be either. The homosexuals will continue their crusade to groom and brainwash children into being gay, and Arabs will still be allowed to defile the temple mount with their prayers to a fake god.
I’m with Jerry on this. You can’t move here for marauding gangs of homosexuals with their snug fit T shirts and low-rise leather shorts hanging around outside the schools, seducing the little ‘uns with their home furnishing pattern books and Liza Minelli show tunes. Before you know it these evil yet well coordinated crusaders will have brainwashed a whole generation into watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and wearing eye liner on the parade ground. It really is the thin end of the wedge. Something must be done, right Jerry?
There are more than a few uncanny similarities between extremist apartheid Israel and the 1933-1945 German government, such as apartheid, genocide, militarization, etc…
You’re not paying attention to this thread Brucie. See Jerry’s comments above. According to him you’ve got it all wrong with all this apartheid, genocide, occupation toss that you’re always crying about. He reckons that Israel is about to be consumed my crusading homosexuals with their glamourous and over-styled ways and high social drama. This may be good news for you. The Border Authorities may no longer be bothered by your extreme antisemitism and provocative behaviour to Jews. They’ll be far more concerned that your bag matches your shoes. Take note, girl !
Even if you put 💄 lipstick on a Zio 🐖 pig, it’s still a pig.
Doing make-up tips now Brucie? Jerry’s Pink Crusaders are more influential than I thought. Who are you wearing today? I see you more as a Hugo Boss type of girl than a Vera Wang, right?.
No idea what you’re talking about Ian. It’s a blessing for you to take your meds before commenting. Shalom.
Now, we’re doing “take your meds” responses like it’s 2013.
Keep it going Brucie. You’re doing your god’s work
HaShem is my G*d Ian. Who, or what, do you worship?
Even if you put 💄 lipstick on a Pro Terrorist/Jihadi Pal-e-SWINE 🐖 pig, it’s still a pig.
Tripe! and thats a mild response
Brucie Levy the fake rabbi and Holocaust revisionist and denigrator
Yes Brucie, we know your fixation on Holocaust denigrating with your mockery of the millions of Jews that were murdered by the Nazis.
Your jokes about boxcars, lampshades, soap and tattoos etc are well documented here
One thing you never seem to accept is the the direct and active connections between the Nazis and your hero, hajj Amin Husseini, the Muslim grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the fact that he spent the war years as a guest and supporter of Hitler.
The fascist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Jewish Antisemitic racism of the Palestinians and your support of them is fully apparent
No idea what you’re talking about Stinky Dick. It’s a blessing for you to take your meds before commenting. Shalom.
The biggest form of Antisemitism is Zionism.
That’s it. That’s my comment.
That’s my comment
Could there be any other??
Happy Eternal Nakba to Sand Nazi Pal-e-SWINE and its supporters.!
That’s my comment.
Rest in Power Jewish-American activist, Shatzi Weisberger, known as “The People’s Bubbie” was a fixture at New York City protests in support of the Palestine people. She was 92.
May her memory be a blessing.
May the Nakba be an Eternal Blessing.
Is “Dead Pit Anus aka ‘Brunts Loveee'” still posting here? I looked over the entries here and didn’t see anything by it.
I’d like to recommend the upstanding, fine, young moral activists at PALESTINE ACTION “Kosher” their organization by forming a Rabbinic Council to advise, pray and approve. 🇵🇸
I’ll be happy to step up to the plate.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pray.
✡️ 🙏 ✡️
When are humanitarian Jews going to learn and accept that Israel is NOT a Jewish State it is a ZIONIST State and an insult to humanitarian Jews? A State which is built upon Zionist myths and brutality can NEVER be anything other than that which it is now, a racist, apartheid State which has corrupted the Jewish religion.
For Jews who count themselves as Zionists, even though they may know little or nothing about Zionism, they would do well to read Tony Greenstein’s latest book, ‘Zionism During the Holocaust’. Much of the information in the book has been obtained from Zionist sources and shows that Zionists cared little or nothing about Jews who did not toe the Zionist line and were prepared to let them be slaughtered by the Nazis.
The only way to be a Zionst and a humanitarian is to be IGNORANT.
Hello Jack. You seem quite cross as usual that Israel exists as a Jewish State. This really is a you problem old son.
Keep it up though. You’re doing your god’s work.
Ian, How many of the 10 commandments do the Zionists controlling the ZIONIST State obey? Please don’t confuse them with Jews or Judaism.
Which Jihadist Terrorist atrocity proves that Islam is the Religion of Peace or Palestinians are peaceful?
Hello Jack. You need to man up dude. Your team lost over 70 years ago and you ain’t managed to overturn the result since. Limping in here with your religious voodoo and your caplocks just makes you look impotent and weedy. If you want real change you’re going to have to get your hands much dirtier.
Kudos for the commitment though. You’re doing your god’s work.
Ian, are you Jewish or are you a Zionist? you cannot be both, Zionism is abhorrent to Judaism.
If you are a Zionist, then do you concur with all the brutality carried out by Zionists with their apartheid enforcement and the Zionist policy of allowing Jews to be murdered by Hitler, rather than have them sent to a place of rescue other than to the Zionist State?
Jack, bro, we’re the home team here and we’ve already won. If you’re so cross about the result and desperate to change it, you’ve got to do more than just toddle along here pushing some weedy provocations hoping for a rise. You’ve got to get down and dirty or else you’re gonna be at this game for donkeys without ever achieving anything. I really don’t think you’re grasping this at all dude.
Ian, I’m fully aware that you are in your home team bubble but I’m also aware that my comments are read by others who may not be of your ilk.
Many years ago, mistakenly I thought that Zionism was simply a harmless fringe on the edges of Judaism. Since then however, often by listening to Jews who actually DO practice Judaism, I’ve learnt that Zionists are a psychopathic aberration who have harnessed Judaism in an attempt to disguise their murderous intentions.
In your eyes, as in the eyes of all psychopaths, Zionist murder and brutality is a ‘win’ but the tide always turns, no matter how long it takes, and if you dare to venture outside your bubble, you will find it is now on the ebb.
Funny how a middle class white Englishman thinks he can redefine the religious identity of someone else’s country just to bolster his own nefarious and racist agenda?
Got news for you
The British Empire is now a busted flush Jack T(wat) and so is colonialism that went with it
You don’t get to tell the rest of the world what to do anymore
That must be a shock to you? But you better get used to it…..
Back to your Antisemitic trope of telling Jews who they are, or must be.
It is Antisemitic to try and divide Jews into ‘good’ Jews (who just remarkably fit into the thinking you espouse) and ‘bad’ Jews (who unremarkably you disagree with).
As I’ve said before; I think you are an Antisemite because of the way you try to categorize Jews according to the way progressive non-Jews try to pigeonhole Jews and Zionists.
From the very inception of Judaism, from Abraham, from Moses, from the return of Jews from the Babylonian exile to Jerusalem/Zion and to the present day, Judaism is predicated on the concept of Zionism and the return to Zion and Jerusalem. Only ignorant Antisemites that hate Jews can think otherwise
Richard, I do not tell Jews “who they are, or must be”. I simply remind Zionists how abhorrent it is to try and engulf Jews in their inhumain plans.
You mentioned Moses; isn’t it said that he was given the ten commandments? How many of those commandments do Zionists keep?
As for your contention that I’m anti-Semitic. It is well known that Zionists use that term against anyone, even Jews, who criticise them, therefore it doesn’t bother me one bit to be criticised by Zionists.
You do know don’t you, that Jesus was not a Zionist? he was actually a Jewish Palestinian.
It’s a Full House in Activist Bingo as Jack gets all the major provocations into one post. I’m sure he’ll get a rise out of someone, somewhere.
Kudos for the commitment Jack. Keep it going. You’re doing your god’s work.
Your spelling is certainly inhumane
Dozey “Your spelling is certainly inhumane” but not as inhumane as the current racist Zionist Israeli government:
“Netanyahu’s Far-right Gov’t Will Usher in the End of Israeli Apartheid”
A+ for your spelling
E- for your content
Must be tough for the Jew haters to see how the world’s only Jewish state continues to flourish as its GDP continues to grow year on year?
Must be even worse for them to come to terms with the fact that because of the continued existence of Israel there can never be and will never be another Jewish holocaust?
Little wonder that a racist Jew hating vermin like Jack is getting so hot under the collar on this thread….?
Ah well never mind
Happy Hanukkah everyone
Hello dozey Dobkin, just a reminder, Israel is not a Jewish State, it’s a ZIONIST State as shown on your little Zionist flag 🙂
Hello Jack T(wat)
And here is your reminder that the now independent nations of the world are no longer existing under the jackboot of British imperialism
Everybody gets to define their OWN cultural and political and religious identities now…and your permission to do this is neither sought nor required…
Welcome to the 21st century Jacky Lad
And Happy Hanukkah
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