Since 1992, one of the conditions for a center-left victory in Israel was that the candidate for prime minister was a former Chief of Staff. This time, the Blue and White party was led by not one or two, but three former chiefs of staff. Over the past ten years, the Israeli left and media developed an image that Israel is a terrible place to live. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces three indictments pending a hearing. The right-wing bloc came to the polls when it was divided into several small parties struggling to reach the 3.25 percent election threshold. Despite all of these challenges, Netanyahu won a fifth (fourth consecutive) term, and he will soon present his coalition.
So, how did this happen? How is it possible that despite everything described in the international media, the Israeli public trusts Netanyahu over and over again? In order to understand the answer, we must put the media and external criticisms aside, collect the facts and see the wider picture. After we piece together the puzzle, we will understand that Netanyahu is actually a magician.
The Israeli public is moving rightward
From 1948 to 1977, the Labor Party controlled Israel. It created a state out of nothing and achieved miraculous accomplishments, but simultaneously discriminated against Jewish immigrants from Arab countries. Labor ran Israel in what appeared to be democratic, except it excluded right-wingers. Its economic system was socialist and gave special political and economic status to those close to power. But the victory of Menachem Begin and the Likud 42 years ago changed the world: Israel developed economically and new elites were born. Those who had been excluded and ignored became an integral part of the government. Israel became much freer and pluralistic.
But it’s not only about Menachem Begin and his leadership. Another event that cannot be forgotten is the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. The Labor government of 1993 signed a political agreement with the hope of establishing peace with the Palestinians. The right and specifically Netanyahu warned that an agreement with a terrorist like Arafat would endanger the country and not lead to the desired result. The five years of the al-Aqsa intifada and almost 1,500 Israelis murdered proved that Netanyahu was right.
Since 2009, the Israeli left has not succeeded in beating Netanyahu at the ballot box, so instead they began putting pressure on state institutions by publishing fake news claiming that Netanyahu is a criminal. Mass demonstrations by left-wingers, along with pressure from left-wing politicians and left-leaning media, led to the Attorney General's decision. It should be remembered that since 1997, the Prime Minister has been charged with 19 different allegations, 16 of which were closed and the other three were subject to selective enforcement, distorted interpretation and a complete disregard of facts, and they too will end up being nothing. The Israeli media and left chose to ignore this, but many Israelis preferred to focus on this and vote for Netanyahu.
Netanyahu led an economic and political revolution
When Netanyahu returned to power in 2009, Israel was ranked 43rd in the world economically with an income per capita of $28,000. Thanks to Netanyahu policies, Israel jumped to 25th place with income per capita now being more than $40,000, ahead of many European countries. Unemployment fell to a time low and the wealth gap shrank to the lowest it’s been in two decades. Moreover, Israel is a country of almost 9 million inhabitants, but its exports have grown from $ 60 billion a year to $ 110 billion. Netanyahu decided to invest huge sums in the development of cyber and hi-tech and he placed Be'er Sheva, a neglected city at the edge of the desert, at the forefront of the frontier. At the same time, he invested huge investments in transportation infrastructure that completely changed the periphery in Israel. It’s important to note that the residents of these cities are the very same people that were ignored by leftist governments and thanks to Netanyahu's free market policy, they became financially successful. That does not mean there is no poverty in Israel, but it is dramatically declining. One of the indicators is the global wealth index: Israel was ranked 13th.
And yet, Israel is suffering from expensive housing and a high cost of living. In recent years, Netanyahu has led a policy of reducing regulation and bureaucracy while opening the market to competition. This comes at a time when the Israeli left is encouraging the very opposite. For example, Blue & White’s candidate for finance minister was the chairman of the Histadrut, the national trade union in Israel that empowers monopolies, opposes opening the market to competition, and supports the very stakeholders maintaining the cost of living.
Netanyahu also led a diplomatic upheaval: Arab countries previously opposing Israel became allies against Iran. Some Arab countries even import gas from Israel. Netanyahu led a diplomatic revolution, including the rapprochement with Russia, China, South American countries, and assistance to African countries. Of course, this was done alongside the strengthening of relations with the United States and European countries, which were traditionally friendly to us.
Looking at the overall picture, it is not hard to understand why Netanyahu is considered a magician. This July he will break the record of David Ben-Gurion as the prime minister who served in office the longest, and we have no choice but to ask what other records he can break?