Save Meretz, Save Your Soul

If Meretz supporters switch to Zionist Union at the last moment 'to save the homeland,' the homeland will suffer.

Sefi Rachlevsky
Sefi Rachlevsky
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In this photo taken Feb. 24, 2015, Zehava Galon, the leader of Meretz party, arrives at a debate hosted by the Israel Women’s Network in Tel Aviv.
In this photo taken Feb. 24, 2015, Zehava Galon, the leader of Meretz party, arrives at a debate hosted by the Israel Women’s Network in Tel Aviv.Credit: AP
Sefi Rachlevsky
Sefi Rachlevsky

Meretz is at risk of not reaching the electoral threshold. In the last election, it received 176,000 votes. But in the last election, there was no battle over the position of prime minister. This time there is. As a result of a shift by some Meretz voters to Zionist Union, Meretz is expected to get only around 150,000 votes — only 20,000 votes above the minimum — giving it around five Knesset seats instead of the six it has today. If, as in past elections, significantly more Meretz supporters switch to Zionist Union at the last moment “to save the homeland,” the homeland will suffer.

The size of the biggest party is critical this time, but if four Knesset seats are “lost” because Meretz fails to pass the vote threshold, there will be no electoral upset. It’s cut and dried. Therefore, supporters of both Meretz and the Joint List — who were justifiably appalled by the alliance of Arab parties’ separatist error of refusing a surplus-votes agreement with Meretz — must see to it that Meretz exceeds the threshold, for the sake of the upset.

The importance of Meretz in achieving the upset goes hand in hand with what it would mean for the party to miss the threshold: Imagine the crowing of Baruch Marzel the Kahanist and others of his ilk, and it’s clear that must not be permitted.

But anyone who says the size of the biggest party doesn’t matter this time is wrong. Size does matter, in this election. When one side has 61 true supporters in the Knesset — a simple majority — it’s the bloc that counts. This time, neither does. There will be fewer than 50 MKs to the left of Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, and even fewer to the right of Prime Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. That means the government will be decided by the centrist parties, according to the results for the big parties. If Herzog and Netanyahu are close, Netanyahu might stay in power. But if Herzog has a significant lead, there will be an upset. That lead will allow the centrist parties that aren’t crazy about Netanyahu, starting with Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, to join a Herzog-led government.

This time it’s possible: The desire not to vote for Netanyahu is enormous. All that’s needed is for everyone who wants an upset to vote for Herzog.

If I were the brother of Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, or even Yair himself, I’d vote for Herzog. Anyone recognizing the existential importance of the upset must do so. Lapid won’t sit in a Netanyahu government, but he would be a key cabinet member under Herzog.

A too-big Yesh Atid would also hinder the upset, which will be mathematically impossible without the ultra-Orthodox parties. When Herzog wins, the Haredim will gladly join his coalition and take over Habayit Hayehudi’s footholds in the rabbinate.

After former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s speech at Saturday’s rally in Tel Aviv, this point is surely clear to all. Anyone who remained dry-eyed at the sound of this Israeli hero’s choked voice has a heart of stone.

Dagan came from the right. He was with Ariel Sharon during “Arik’s” right-wing days. In Gaza. In Lebanon. He grabbed a grenade with his bare hands. He also killed with his hands. When Dagan tears up talking about his grandfather in the Holocaust and pleads, “just not apartheid,” any non-messianist who fails to join the regime-change campaign surely has no soul. The only possible ballots for the upset are Zionist Union or Meretz.

Historically, the military establishment is nearly always to the right of the political leaders, ready to attack. Only in rare cases, that end in apocalypse, does the military find itself to the left of the government. That’s what happens in messianic eras.

More than 95 percent of Israel’s top brass has joined the regime-change campaign. With the exception of his own government appointees, almost none have stayed with Netanyahu.

Given these circumstances, if there is no upset there will be a lot of crying. Anyone who fails to enlist in the effort will bear responsibility for destroying the dreams of future generations. The weakness and cowardice of anyone who fails to call out, loud and clear, “Choose Herzog and an upset,” because of a professional friendship with the Lapid-Ofer Shelah gang, shall never be forgiven.

When Dagan weeps, a rain of upset ballots should follow. This is no time for hesitation or idle chatter. Either you help Meretz pass the threshold or you vote for Herzog. There is no other choice. If even one person who wants an upset to stop the extremism votes Lapid, heaven will have no mercy on us.

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