Posted on April 5, 2013
As a guest of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, I was in the country for the unexpected re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Even Mr. Netanyahu’s closest strategists were surprised: The night of the election, we were joined at dinner by his campaign manager, Aron Shaviv. Although he has an international reputation for winning election campaigns for centre-right candidates, as we chatted over dinner even he failed to realize how resonant was Mr. Netanyahu’s eleventh-hour call to action.
The problem, he said, was that Likud voters had been tempted by a ‘package deal’ — they believed they could vote for a centrist party within a potential right-wing coalition but still get Mr. Netanyahu as the prime minister.
Still, the decision to scare Israelis into voting — and voting for him — by casting Arab voters as a threat, stirred an international controversy. Such tactics may be expedient in the short-term, but they can also carry a steep price.
Now, as efforts to build a coalition government get underway in Israel, the extent to which Mr. Netanyahu’s strategy has poisoned his own chalice, remains to be seen.