Israeli Elections

Netanyahu's Feminist Posturing

01.03.13 7:00 PM ET

Now Bibi's taking swipes at Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home party. Today, a quarter-page ad ran on the front page of Haaretz, whose banner read "The Jewish Home is anti-women." At whom is this "gender attack" aimed? Well, who reads Haaretz? The only explanation is that this ad is aimed at undecided "center-left" voters who, if Bibi nudges them enough bit, might just switch to Likud. 

Look at it this way: If you're Likud, you don't publish something in Haaretz to preach to the converted. Likud voters don't read Haaretz; they read Yisrael HaYom. And, after all, who is likely to be worried about women's issues in Israel, more any anyone else: secular Tel Avivim. And, well, if you're looking for the people in Tel Aviv who can't make up their mind, they're the ones debating between Lapid (There is a Future), Livni (The Movement) and Shelly (Labor). That debate is a weird one, and its hard to pin any of them down, so Bibi's trying to take it simple for them. He's saying "I'm going to be in office, but I need to be able to reach out to the left too, and I can't do that if I'm overrun by Bennett and his cronies. A vote for me is a vote against Bennett." 

This is a direct hit on a Tel Aviv nerve. The ad goes after Bennett's number 4, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, his number 9, Moti Yogev, and Rabbi Dov Lior, who the ad calls "the religious leader" of the Jewish Home. All are holdovers from the Tkuma Party (explained here), and all are "anti women" (read: religious fanatics) in some way. The sucker-punch Likud is delivering to Jewish Home is for the entertainment pleasure of the confused secular center-left bloc. The goal: to get them to reconsider Likud as a counterbalance to Bennett's scary religiosity. It could be that Bibi is now despairing of ever getting his right-wing voters back from Bennett—so he's moving on to the center-left.