Is Netanyahu Losing His Base Support?

Monday, March 20, 2017 |  Tsvi Sadan

Four key affairs may prove detrimental to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's political future – the police investigation probing unlawful gifts he allegedly received from Arnon Milchan, Sgt. Elor Azaria's conviction for killing a wounded terrorist, the demolition of the settlement outpost of Amona, and the coalition rift over replacing the old Israel Broadcasting Authority with a new independent broadcasting corporation.

Regarding the those gifts (primarily cigars and champagne), while most Israelis view the investigation as politically-motivated, if charged, Netanyahu is expected to resign. But this scandal is less severe, and could actually end up strengthening Netanyahu. 

His real problems are the Azariya case and the demolition of Amona. A large and growing portion of Netanyahu's core right-wing constituency can't understand why he failed to stand up for the young soldier and why he still hasn't built new homes for the former residents of Amona, as he promised to do.

These two affairs could lose him votes. And it's Netanyahu's erratic behavior in regards to the new broadcasting corporation, over which he is resorting to threats, that could bring about early elections.

Growing dissatisfaction among right-wing Israelis is reflected in recent polls that show Netanyahu's Likud winning about the same number of seats as the centrist Yesh Atid party (26 to 25) if elections were held today. Of course, such polls have proved unreliable (suspiciously so) in recent years, and therefore may not be the best way to judge sentiments in the conservative camp.

The new seismograph for public opinion is online social media. Following a selection of influencers on Facebook can indicate far more accurately which way the wind is blowing. For instance, Oria Amrani's posts have caused severe headaches for Netanyahu's office for some time now, after she turned from a staunch supporter into a harsh critic.

In her December 31 post, Amrani took Netanyahu to task for "abandoning" Sgt. Azaria and warned that allowing the young soldier to be convicted [which he later was] would determine the outcome of the next national election. She wrote: "...you sent Azaria [to Hebron] … and he did what was expected of any sane soldier … yet you have thrown him to the dogs."

Moti Carpel, another influential Facebook figure, was protective of Netanyahu until he realized that the latter's attitude toward Amona and the Jewish settlement enterprise in the "West Bank" is not what it seems to be. 

As a religious person, Carpel attempted to give his followers a spiritual perspective regarding Netanyahu. In his March 19 post, Carpel wrote that the Heavenly Court is now presiding over Netanyahu's moral conduct, not over his smoking habits. According to Carpel, Netanyahu's political future relies on him seizing the historic opportunity to begin annexing Israel's biblical heartland.

Everything Netanyahu has done until now, Carpel expounded, could still be forgiven. "But now, there are no more excuses," he wrote, concluding that "in the Lord's hand, the king's heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him."

Finally, we have a post from Assaf Voll lamenting the "retarded" state of the conservative camp. On March 19 Voll wrote: "The problem of the Right is not that the Left controls the media, academia and courts of law, but that it has no style … those who care for truth must admit: The Right is moronic." 

Voll continued by skewering most right-wing spokespeople as "self-righteous and pompous." 

While he would not comment directly on Netanyahu, Voll gave the impression that he wouldn't shed any tears should the prime minister be ousted from office.

One can find many, many more such examples of the growing sense of dissolution on the Right. But, when all is said and done, Netanyahu could once again emerge victorious if he can convince voters of his commitment to seeing Israel blossom as a full-blown Jewish state.

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