Rich Noyes suggested the other day that one reason Likud and the Israeli right wing was crushed at the polls was some old-fashioned liberal media bias. Perhaps. But my old friend Joel Rosenberg (best-selling fiction writer) blogs about his dinner table at the Radio and TV News Correspondents dinner, and how he explained the Israeli election returns. I thought: hmm, no wonder we haven't had a lot of reporting from Israel on American TV. Things are pretty good:
Ehud Olmert and his Kadima party did not win as big as they expected (29 seats when they were riding high in the mid-40s just two months ago). But they still won. Olmert will likely put together a left-wing coalition of somewhere around 65-70 seats. Every member will support his game-changing plan to give away the vast majority of the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria to the terrorist government of Hamas. He has said he won't let them join if they don't.
The Israeli right got crushed. Likud dropped from 38 seats to just 12. Already efforts are underway to drive Bibi Netanyahu out of politics forever. Other nationalist and religious parties did better than expected. But together, the right has lost the initiative. Why?
Think two words: secure and exhausted.
Israelis feel more secure today than at any other time in their modern history. A former top official in Israeli military intelligence put it to me this way over breakfast at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem last June: Saddam is gone. Arafat is dead. They have peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. The Syrian military has been driven out of Syria. The security fence and dramatically improved Israeli intelligence and police work have stopped 99% of the suicide bombings. The economy is surging. Tourism is surging. Life isn't perfect. But when has it ever been for the Jewish people. Right now, Israelis feel it's about as good as it gets.
Joel has worked for Bibi Netanyahu, so he knows his Israeli politics. And he's not happy with the Hamas dealing that's to come, so read on.