UPDATE: SOUTHERN ISRAEL REMAINS ON HIGHEST TERRORIST ALERT.
Saturday night has seen another night of ‘social justice’ demonstrations occurring mainly in central and northern Israel (as you can see from the UPDATE the South is preoccupied with other more existential priorities).
And this Sunday morning has seen widely conflicting reports about how many showed up for the ‘million’ person event–with estimates ranging from Haaretz newspaper’s 450,000 (unsurprisingly Haaretz is using the organizers’ inflated estimate) to the Jerusalem Post’s ‘400,000’ to Arutz Sheva’s ‘as few as 100,000’. Israeli police estimated the total number of demonstrators around the country as approximately 300,000.
As your humble servant pointed out in an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post back on August 1, numbers are important. In that article, I pointed out how the media has been hugely exaggerating the numbers of protestors in a blatant attempt to undermine the current government of Israel.
And other recent reports have shown that far from what is being portrayed as a purely home grown eruption of genuine protest over exorbitant housing prices and ‘social justice’, the protests have been largely organized and paid for by strategists and donors from the United States–all of whom have an interest in seeing Netanyahu ousted.
One investigative report published in Maariv showed that the demonstrations have been directed “by a group of media strategists who are directed by prominent Democratic strategist Stanley Greenberg, a former adviser to Bill Clinton, John Kerry and others.” Another investigative report on Israel’s Channel 10 revealed that wealthy U.S. Democratic party donors have been involved in the protests every step of the way–even to the point of buying the tents that make up the so-called ‘tent cities.’
This is not to say that Israelis have not been at the forefront of this movement. The same strategy team that directed Ehud Barak’s campaign for the prime ministership back in the 1990s has joined forces with Greenberg. And the New Israel Fund, well known for its loathing of PM Netanyahu, has heavily invested its financial resources in the effort.
But it is extremely difficult to gauge the impact of the summer protests here. Almost every Israeli (your humble servant included) agrees with some aspect of the protestors’ demands. However, a recent poll shows that from a political standpoint, the protest movement may end up having a devastating effect on the Kadima and Labor parties–and has had no effect whatsoever on the national and religious parties that form the current coalition.
The Panorama Poll, released this past week on Voice of Israel government radio, shows that if an election were held in the near future:
Netanyahu’s Likud party would win 27 seats (maintaining its current number)
Lieberman’s Yisrael Betainu party would win 16 seats (a gain of 1)
The Shas religious party would win 12 seats (a gain of 1)
The United Torah Judaism orthodox party would win 6 seats (a gain of 1)
The smaller national/religious parties would keep exactly the number of seats they currently have.
On the other hand:
Livni’s Kadima party would lose 10 seats (dropping from 28 to 18)
The Labor party would lose 3 seats (dropping from 13 to 10)
And which political parties would benefit from Kadima and Labor’s losses?
Meretz would win 6 seats (doubling its current number of 3)
The Green party and Ehud Barak’s new Independence party would win seats.
The Arab parties would maintain their current number of seats.
In sum, the demonstrators are having an impact and will change Israeli politics by reinvigorating the extreme Israel ‘left’. However, what the international organizers and donors have worked so hard for–the removal of the democratically elected government of Israel–is not going to happen any time soon.