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After divisive campaign, Israelis deliver clear victory for Netanyahu

TEL AVIV (JTA) — After weeks in which polls consistently showed Zionist Union holding a slight lead over the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli leader effected a dramatic comeback to win a decisive victory in Israeli elections on Tuesday.

 

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Netanyahu’s Likud expanded its representation to 30 seats — a quarter of the Knesset and six more than the Zionist Union’s 24.

Against all odds: a great victory for the Likud. A major victory for the people of Israel!” Netanyahu posted on Twitter shortly after exit polls came out.

Netanyahu now has a relatively clear path to forming a coalition of his so-called “natural partners” on the right and among religious parties, along with the center-right Kulanu party.

The Likud victory came after initial exit polls from three Israeli television stations showed the top two parties in a virtual tie. But official returns that came in hours later showed that voters had rejected Herzog’s call for change, expanding the Knesset’s left-wing bloc mostly at the expense of its centrist parties.

Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc will account for 57 seats in the next Knesset, while the center-left will have 49. The Arab-Israeli Joint List won 14 seats to become the third-largest party.

The result provides a conclusive finish to a fierce and largely negative campaign in which both Netanyahu and Herzog campaigned with variations on the slogan It’s Us or Them.

The Joint List, a combined slate of several smaller Arab factions, was one of the election’s biggest winners. Driven by elevated turnout among Arab-Israelis, the Joint List’s 14 seats are a gain of three from its current Knesset representation.

Ayman Odeh, the party’s charismatic leader, has committed himself to working on improving the lives of Arab-Israelis but has vowed not to join a governing coalition.

Throughout the campaign, voters said their top issue was Israel’s high cost of living. They reiterated that demand on Tuesday, giving Kulanu a strong showing with 10 seats. Party founder Moshe Kachlon, a former Likud minister, had focused almost exclusively on socioeconomic issues during the campaign.

The other party with a strong economic focus, the centrist Yesh Atid, fell from 19 to 11 seats.

Kulanu may well emerge as the election’s kingmaker. Netanyahu needs its support to form the next government, giving it a powerful bargaining chip when negotiating for positions in ministries and Knesset committees.

Herzog conceded defeat in a telephone call to Netanyahu Wednesday.

“We’ll be a fighting, socially-minded party that will serve as an alternative in all areas,” Herzog wrote on Facebook Wednesday morning. “And we will fight together with our partners for the values we believe in.”.

As Election Day drew near, leaders on both sides urged voters to close ranks around their respective flagship party. Voters moved away from smaller parties, enabling Likud and Zionist Union to increase their Knesset representation. Likud succeeded in closing a polling deficit of several points in the campaign’s final days.

The religious Zionist, pro-settler Jewish Home party, which grew from three to 12 seats in the 2013 vote, fell back to eight in the election.

On the left, the staunchly leftist Meretz fell from six seats to four, and its chairwoman, Zehava Galon, announced her resignation Wednesday morning. The right-wing Yachad party, founded by former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, did not pass the electoral threshold and will not enter the next Knesset.

Among the biggest losers was Yisrael Beiteinu, the hardline faction led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The party, which had 13 seats in the previous Knesset, was hit with a corruption scandal early in the campaign and wound up with just six seats.

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Israel

Our New Jewish Reality

Indigo bookstore in Toronto defaced

By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead

Jewish Post & News file photo

Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.

To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333

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Israel

Israeli show satirizing students in the US who give blind support to Hamas

If you want to take a break from the tension that comes with following every bit of news associated with Israel’s war on Hamas watch this hilarious video satirizing the stupidity of US college kids who give unqualified support to Hamas: https://twitter.com/LeviYonit/status/1721272323087401428?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1721272323087401428%7Ctwgr%5E833a2a425e6d7029d6ef37b7c9042c1d81dbf8ba%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.timesofisrael.com%2Fisraeli-satire-shows-mocking-of-us-student-support-for-hamas-goes-viral%2F

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