If You're in Israel Today, Vote as if Your Life Depended on It. It Does.

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I intend to vote the hell out of this election. I intend to vote us the hell out of the occupation. I intend to kick Netanyahu in his kitsch and his slime and his cowardice and the way he'll hold on to the leather chair until we the people pry it from his cold, dead hands.

We. The people of this country who want to see peace – the two thirds of the population who want to see two states bring an end to one endless crippling Israel-killing occupation.

I intend to vote the hell out of this election, and the one after that, which could come sooner than anyone – especially Bibi - thinks. I intend to vote because I've been disenfranchised by the one in 25 Israelis who lives in settlements. I intend to vote this time and the next, and the time after that, because the government of this country has been hijacked by the spirit and the waste trail and the living, ruling heirs of Meir Kahane, and because Netanyahu just sits by and watches and fools himself into thinking that he's co-opting them, because, above all, he's scared shitless of them.

Kahane's heirs are drunk with the stuff of tyranny. One after another of these people is telling you that democracy, universal human rights, freedom for minorities, are all subordinate to a narrow, sexist, callous, smilingly contentedly vociferously racist, minority strain of extreme Orthodoxy which presumes, obscenely so, coercively so, brutally so, to speak for all Jews.

Over two terms, we've had seven long, dark years to get to know Benjamin Netanyahu as a leader. We have learned that he will do anything and everything to stay in power. Including nothing. Especially nothing.

He had his chance. He could have done anything he wanted. In May, emerging from mourning his father's death, he forged an overnight deal that gave him a landmark 94-vote majority in the 120-seat Knesset. He could have made history. He could have made peace.

Instead, misstep by misstep, he squandered every political resource he had. As promises evaporated, so did his coalition. The Republican Party's adored partner in worldview, Netanyahu bet heavily on Mitt Romney to win, alienating much of Washington and American Jewry in the process. He badly misplayed Palestinian moves for upgraded UN status. His increasingly aggressive support of settlement construction sapped international support for unified steps against Iran. In October, announcing early elections, he declared, with pride, "We haven't waged any unnecessary wars, nor any wars at all." Exactly a month later, he launched a war in Gaza that significantly strengthened Hamas.

He's had his chance. Now he has his referendum. But Israelis no longer want him. His own party doesn't want him. The electoral trick he pulled by combining Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu may buy him this election and a bit more time. But the knives are already out in Likud, and, for moderates and the rabid right alike, Netanyahu's the address. From the ploy of a "two-state" speech to the abandonment of Begin, Meridor and Kahlon, from a blunt back-hand to the needy to the hole in the budget, Bibi's betrayed them all.

At the weekend, Netanyahu made it clear that he was already looking past this election to a future fourth term in office. "I intend to be here for many more years," he told Israel Channel 10 television.

Maybe he should look again. Or maybe he can't. In any case, maybe that's our job, as voters.

And maybe we're starting to. The first step is to get past the Israeli tenet of faith that says that there is no alternative to Bibi, nor any chance of dislodging him.

People all over Israel are already taking that step. Today. As my colleague Larry Derfner wrote in +972 Magazine on Monday, "If, as expected tomorrow, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu gets in the low-30s in Knesset seats, this election will mark the beginning of the post-Netanyahu era."

It won't happen overnight. It may take a long time. But it starts today.

If you're in Israel, vote as if your life depended on it. It does.

An Israeli woman riding her bicycle past election campaign posters for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Israeli Labor party leader Shelly Yacimovich, Jan. 18, 2013.Credit: AFP

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