The Gantz and Netanyahu switcheroo

Opinion: Recent polls show Likud overtaking Blue & White for the first time in this election cycle and demonstrate how, unlike in previous ballots, this time the prime minister appears to have the upper hand

By Yuval Karni, YNET
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White Chairman Benny Gantz

In the last two elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue & White Leader Benny Gantz each served a very particular role.

Netanyahu was the underdog candidate warning that, “the rule of the right is in danger” while pushing a narrative that poor right-wing turnout would result in the left forming a government that is dangerous for Israel.

Gantz, a political rookie, twice led Blue & White to become Israel’s biggest party, radiating confidence and telling everyone “we are close to victory.”

Despite his lack of political prowess and the fact his party had been constructed almost from scratch, Gantz became the first and only candidate in the last decade to jeopardize Netanyahu’s grip on the premiership.

So, what changed in the third election cycle in 12 months?

Netanyahu realized his election campaign’s fatalistic approach was being perceived as unauthentic, and that his ability to “recruit” Israeli Arabs to help his campaign – like with his infamous “Arab voters are going to the polls in droves” comment or the failed camera bill – just doesn’t seem to do it for his right-wing following anymore. On the contrary, many of his supporters have felt like the premier’s actions have actually emboldened the Arabs to go to the polls in droves.

Netanyahu has realized another important thing about his constituents – they don’t like a defeatist campaign begging voters for help.

And quite frankly, this mindset change has worked wonders for Netanyahu so far – despite his ongoing legal woes, Netanyahu has managed to overtake his rival Gantz in the polls.

But what about Gantz, you may ask? It remains unclear.

The former IDF chief has actually done a lot better as a novice making his first steps in the political life, but after two grueling election cycles, a more-seasoned Gantz now finds himself subject to the critics’ slings and arrows.

Paradoxically enough, the political know-how he has gathered along the way seemed to only weaken his bid for prime minister.

For example, this time around, Gantz preferred to focus on a solo campaign instead of sharing it with his fellow Blue & White co-leaders, in part because of Yair Lapid’s withdrawal from their premiership rotation deal.In real times of crisis, like when the state prosecutor launched a probe into his failed Fifth Dimension startup company, the centrist leader struggled to fight back and only sunk deeper in the political mud.

In the few days left before the election, Blue & White will do what Netanyahu did the previous times – stand in the pulpit and scream how the skies are falling.

However, one should take these polls with a grain of salt.

The lead may be a light tailwind in the Likud campaign’s sails, but the road to Knesset is still long and winding.

It is still a deadlock – just like it was for the past two times.

March 1, 2020 | 3 Comments » | 242 views

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. The Jerusalem Post’s campaign to defeat Netanyahu in tomorrows’ election has become increasingly frenzied and hysterical. All distinction between facts, opinion and speculation has been abandoned. The lead headline in the Post at present is “Could voter data manipulation return Netanyahu to power?
    The prime minister’s sophisticated use of big data was unimaginable a decade ago, but may well push the right wing bloc over the 61-seat line required to win the election.
    By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN MARCH 1, 2020 21:28”

    The Post is accusing Bibi of rigging the elections even before they take place.

  2. “Netanyahu caught in lie about taping Gantz adviser
    “You are a man with no limits or red lines who uses Mafia tactics,” Blue and White said.”

    This is another headline in today’s Jerusalem Post. When jounalists use the word “lie” in the headline of supposed news story about a prominent politician, you know they hate his guts. Courts are obligated to presume a defendant innocent until guilty (athough Israeli courts often seem to ignore this principle). But journalists are under no such obligation. Often they declare someone’s guilt immediately, on the basis of the flimsiest evidence.

  3. While the Jerusalem Post is definitely opposing Bibi, Arutz Sheva is not supporting him. In today’s A7, one of the lead headlines is “Rabbi Melamed: Netanyahu showing contempt for religious Zionism
    Rabbi Melamed attacks Netanyahu for comments disregarding voters from the religious Zionist sector.”

    IN the course of the interview, Rabbi Melamed asks voters to vote for Yamina, not Likud. Perhaps more significantly, the author of the article, the person interviewing Malamed, lets drop that Arutz Sheva has refused a request for an interview by Netanyahu, in order to express its displeasure with remarks attributed to him that disparage the religious Zionist movement. Rabbi Melamed expresses support for this decision by Arutz Sheva’s editors.

    The origins of this internal right-wing dispute seems to be remarks by Netanyahu expressing frustration with some settler and religious Zionist leaders who have refused to endorse the Trump plan. But making an issue of this disagreement, especially by Israel’s only real right-wing daily newspaper, is extremely foolish and dangerous.

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