Leftists, Flock to the Polls in Droves

The recognition that every vote counts is particularly true for this race, with its dramatic implications for Israel’s future

Voters lining up at a polling booth in Tel Aviv in the 2015 national election.
Tomer Appelbaum

In an interview with Makor Rishon’s weekend paper, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed serious concern about the high level of motivation on the left and emphasized the importance of motivation in winning an election. “In 1996 we won because we had the motivation, but in 1999 they went to the polls as a single unit. It’s happening again now. The left is fully engaged, and the right is sitting at home and going to lose.”

Polls released on Friday – the last polls that may be published before the election – show a close race between Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan. According to the Channel 13 poll, both parties would win 28 Knesset seats. In a comparison of blocs, the right maintains an advantage: A right-wing bloc, led by Likud would have 66 out of 120 Knesset seats, as opposed to 54 for a center-left bloc, led by Kahol Lavan. Given these statistics, a high degree of engagement among the center and left is very important. A high voter turnout in this bloc could tilt the race in its favor

The recognition that every vote counts is particularly true for this race, with its dramatic implications for Israel’s future.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 21Haaretz

Netanyahu says the polls he’s seen show high motivation among the left and center, while the right is inclined not to vote, due to complacency over certain victory. When his interviewers asked whether the leftists are flocking to the polling stations in droves, he said, “Very much so. They’re heading out in incredible stength …. If I put the numbers together, we’re in real danger. To my astonishment we haven’t noticed. We’ve fallen into the same trap where everyone looks only at Knesset seats, and not at the motivation to vote.”

As he usually does, Netanyahu blamed the press, which he said was intentionally hiding this information from the public. “On TV they’re constantly showing these surveys to sedate us, and they don’t show the gap between the two camps in motivation to vote. This is the secret they’re keeping.”

Thus, Netanyahu is repeating the same trick he used to great success during the previous election in 2015, when he riled up voters on Election Day by stating, “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves,” in order to motivate right-wing voters to go out and vote, and save his government. The only difference is that in this campaign, the leftists are filling the Arabs’ role.

Instead of being insulted again by the prime minister’s crass style, those who oppose him need to do exactly what the prime minister fears: Vote in droves. MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi adopted Netanyahu’s call from the previous election, which has already become an idiom, turning it into their Knesset slate’s election slogan: “The Arabs are flocking to the polls in droves.” This is what every citizen must do, Arab or Jewish, who has internalized the need to end Netanyahu’s corrupt, corrupting regime: Go and vote for a party that won’t recommend Netanyahu for prime minister.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.