First-time Voters in Israel Explain Why They Chose Netanyahu

Young voters, who went on Instagram to share their election selfies, explain why they voted for Netanyahu: Security, security, security – and distrust of Arabs, the left and media.

Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz
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A young voter shows her support for Likud on Instagram.
A young voter shows her support for Likud on Instagram.Credit: Screenshot/Adi Malachi
Avshalom Halutz
Avshalom Halutz

Many Israelis woke up to quite a shock Wednesday morning, discovering that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had handily beaten challenger Isaac Herzog, despite opinion polls the previous weekend predicting a narrow victory for Herzog’s Zionst Union.

Social media, where trending hashtags such as #2015elections and #Israel this week summoned up heavily filtered selfies of smiling young people holding up Likud voting slips, may offer a glimpse into some of the reasons for Netanyahu’s popularity among voters. Here, first-time voters, who went on Instagram to share their election photos, explain why they voted for Netanyahu.

Linoy Aharon

Age: 19; residence: Rosh Ha’ayin; occupation: currently doing National Service.

Why did you vote Likud?

“I voted for the first time, choosing Likud since he [Netanyahu] is the most worthy person to lead the country at present. Herzog is unworthy of leading – he would create a leftist government together with the [Arab] Joint List; in addition, he wouldn’t hold up to international pressure by Obama and others with regard to an agreement with the Palestinians. He might divide the country and we’ve seen what happened every time Israel conceded territory in exchange for “peace” – the area becomes a Hamas terror center.

“Netanyahu is a judicious and experienced person who knows his job. He doesn’t buckle under international pressure and knows how to stand up for this country’s principles when the world creates difficulties for us. I saw the opinion polls which indicated that there would be a tight race between Netanyahu and Herzog so I voted Likud, since a right-wing government needs people’s support in order to overcome any leftist government, which would have brought about a disaster. I’m glad the right won and hope for a better future for this country.”

Elina Rabinovich and her friend Valeria Petrov

Age: 18; residence: Netanya; occupation: an editor on a youth website

Why did you vote Likud?

“I voted for Likud wholeheartedly yesterday. Israel is not Switzerland – we’re always surrounded, always attacked and I don’t think the situation can ever be perfect and rosy, not even close to it. That’s why I knew I would vote for the rightist bloc. I wavered between Bibi and Bennett, but after all the pitches by other parties with their slogans amounting to “just not Bibi” I realized how important it was to strengthen him. He’s been at the head for a long time, and despite everything that’s been said about him he’s holding up the country.

“Many people have lots to say on the topic; it’s easy to complain and cast blame and ask for change. It’s harder to consider what would happen if that change actually happened. At present I don’t see any other party that could really replace Netanyahu. Bibi launched these elections to see if people really support him and it happened that way. He knows how to lead, hold us and represent us. Of course he’s made some decisions I don’t support, but no one is perfect and today the only worthy and suitable person, the only one who can overcome all the difficulties, is Benjamin Netanyahu and his party.”

Her friend Valeria Petrova, 17, adds: “I can’t vote yet but these elections set me on fire. I breathed them and lived them 24/7. Why would I choose Likud? I wanted to put my trust in a party that considers security as the foremost issue, a party that promises not to divide Jerusalem and ensures that the Iranian threat is removed. I don’t succumb to cheap slogans made by expensive consultants, but really believe we must maintain an undivided country, especially after all we went through to attain it.

“And beyond that? Let’s break the stigma attached to rightists. It’s not that the cost of living isn’t painful for me. It’s not that I don’t see the poor, it’s not that I’m a meat-eating chauvinist who doesn’t care about social issues. But if we don’t even have a state, how will we worry about the other issues? Likud unites all citizens instead of causing a rift. How will we make peace with others before we make peace among ourselves?”

Shlomi Suliman

Age: 18; residence: Rishon Letzion, occupation: high-school student near completion of studies; works part-time at an after-hours kindergarten.

Why did you vote Likud?

"I decided to vote Likud since that is what I grew up with at home. Every family member I asked said: “Bibi.” As a right wing supporter I decided to vote Likud since the party embraces all my beliefs, opinions and values. Likud is the only party that can protect Israel, in my view. I couldn’t vote for a left-wing party with a name not connected to Zionism. Some people argued with me, saying that Likud only addresses security issues or that Bibi just tries to scare people and he is tripping up other candidates. I want to serve in the army since I love this whole country. We ultimately all return home since someone is waiting for us – the Likud party.”

Rinat Nisanov

Age: 22, residence: Herzliya; occupation: cares for children.

Why did you vote Likud?

“I support Likud since Bibi is a responsible leader who loves the people of Israel. Security issues are the most important issues now, even though he promised to deal with the high cost of living and reduce housing costs, which is no less important. The people of Israel like honest and strong leaders who aren’t afraid of saying ‘no’ and stand strong when facing our enemies. It’s sad to learn that the Zionist Union received many Knesset seats, with Livni who changes her opinion every week and sits wherever she’s offered a place, and Herzog the clown who doesn’t know how to be interviewed, only showing how weak he is. He is inexperienced and doesn’t know a thing about politics. I’m sure that most of the votes they got were due to the hostile media which falsely tarnished Netanyahu and his wife. As usual, he showed everyone that he is King of Israel, laughing at all his puny rivals.”

Under a photo of herself sleeping that she posted on social media, she added: “We can sleep soundly, knowing that we won; proud of most of my people for voting correctly. Good night. By the way, the entire hostile media that tried to defeat him now have to eat their hats. It’s reasonable to assume that Bibi is here to stay and enter the country’s history books.”

Avi Marziano

Age: 23; residence: Ramat Hasharon; occupation: works at the Open University’s call center, studying for a degree in political science, international relations and communications.

Why did you vote Likud?

“As someone who served as a support servicemen in a combat air force squadron, I don’t think the defense budget should be reduced. In addition, the media has turned leftward, hiding documents and operations carried out by Likud for the benefit of people’s welfare and for the general public. The Likud’s gay student group appealed to me; there are wonderful people there and senior Likud officials are who are very polite. Besides one MK who is no longer there, most of them worked to assist the gay community, operating under Knesset faction discipline. I’m a Likudnik from home.”

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