A Blessed Match

From now on, all citizens should know that when they put the slip bearing the letters of the unified party 'Likud-Beitenu" in the ballot box, they are voting for a platform that seeks to hold onto the territories, to perpetuate discrimination, to reject any chance for reconciliation with the Palestinians, and to face off against the world.

"Yes, break it," Ze'ev Jabotinsky wrote in a well-known article he published in the Yiddish-language newspaper Hayent on November 4, 1932. The spiritual father of the Herut movement, the main component of today's Likud, was preaching in his column to break the monopoly of the Histadrut labor federation. The left accused the right-wing Jabotinsky at the time of wanting to crush organized labor. And Jabotinsky, in his furious article, which resonated widely in those days and joined the pantheon of political debate in the Jewish community in the land of Israel, confirmed that this was indeed the case. However, he added that it was not organized labor per se that he wanted to break, but rather the Histadrut's monopoly over it.

"Don't break it" is something that needs saying today, in the face of the declaration of the merger between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu. The merger arouses ire similar to Jabotinsky's of 80 years ago because of its worrisome significance: The party in power in Israel is taking on clearly fascistic characteristics, and is beginning to look like the key political force that will run the country in the future as well. Despite this terrifying likelihood, the union between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should be welcomed and wished long life, and other parties should be called upon not to try to break it.

The "Likud Beiteinu" party holds a monopoly on the fascistic mood in Israel and its political arena. On its margins are fragments of parties that share its worldview, but there is no doubt that Bibi-Lieberman will from now on be the lodestone that defines the Israeli right, and that allows the other parties to identify themselves more clearly than before. From now on, all citizens should know that when they put the slip bearing the letters of the unified party in the ballot box, they are voting for a platform that seeks to hold onto the territories no matter what, to perpetuate discrimination against the Arabs within Israel's borders, to reject any chance for reconciliation with the Palestinians, and to face off against the world on the false pretense of Israel's welfare. They are also voting to institute an anti-liberal regime within the state and a harsh occupation policy within the territories, and to steep Israel even more in an atmosphere of nationalist indoctrination.

The merger between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu will also contribute significantly to the ability of the broader public to be involved in, not to say decide, the domestic debate on the way to deal with the Iranian nuclear program. Netanyahu did Israelis a favor when he decided to move up the elections and offered them a great service by initiating the merger with Lieberman. Early elections should indeed be considered a kind of referendum on the prime minister's intention to attack Iran. Israelis have never been given the opportunity to express their opinion on their leaders' intent to go to war, either in the military conflicts that were forced on us or in wars we started.

Setting election day for January 22, 2013 and placing the Iranian issue at the top of the agenda of the unified party provides all Israeli voters with a rare opportunity to express their opinion of the prime minister's military plans regarding Iran. The parties to the left of Likud Beiteinu have accused Netanyahu of purposely diverting attention from the public's socioeconomic distress to the Iranian threat. But instead of whining about it, these parties should grab this opportunity with both hands and make it their No. 1 talking point. In fact, let Netanyahu's intent to embark on a military exploit against Iran stand at the center of the election campaign. Let him and Lieberman come before the general public (not just to their captive audience ) and persuade them of the necessity of this war, its wisdom and its benefit.

The other parties will face them and point out the horrors of the war that is on the way, the foolishness of the rift it is creating with the Western world, first and foremost the United States, the opposition of experts in the security establishment to such an operation, and its dubious practical benefit. It is not at all certain that given the choice between Bibi-Yvet's aggressive rhetoric, which seeks to justify the planned war against Iran, and effective illustrations of the calamity it will bring down on Israelis, most would prefer Netanyahu and Lieberman's position. In any case, this is indeed an issue that should be at the center of the election campaign, so Israelis can decide whether they are knowingly voting for leaders and a party that are declaring their intention to lead them to war, or they prefer a party with a completely different agenda.