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Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Featured, International, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics | 4 comments

Tens of Thousands Rally Against Netanyahu in Israel: Ex Mossad Chief Says Our Leadership Scares Me More Than Our Enemies

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Under a banner proclaming “Israel Wants Change,” tens of thousands of Israelis attended a massive demonstration calling for the ouster during the March 7th elections of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The rally underlined the fact that not all Israelis approved of the way their Prime Minister secured speech time in front of the U.S. Congress and seemingly injected him to the United States 24/7 partisan war. And, in a blistering speech, an ex-Mossad chief said Netanyahu lied to Congress — and that Israel’s leadership now scares him more than its enemies.

The must-read account is The Jerusalem Post’s, which is worth looking at in some detail:

A mass rally Saturday night against the reelection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Israelis to vote in new leadership in the March 17 election.

The star of the rally was keynote speaker Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad and a vocal critic of Netanyahu.

“Israel is a nation surrounded by enemies, but I am not afraid of enemies,” Dagan said.

“I am frightened by our leadership. I am afraid because of the lack of vision and loss of direction. I am frightened by the hesitation and the stagnation. And I am frightened, above all else, from a crisis in leadership. It is the worst crisis that Israel has seen to this day.”

Dagan had been even more blunt the day before:

Dagan’s speech came the day after Channel 2 aired an interview with the former spy chief in which he leveled scathing criticism at Netanyahu. In the interview, Dagan can be heard saying “bullshit” while watching Netanyahu tell the US Congress last week that Iran could sprint to a nuclear device in less than a year. Dagan said the assessment is inaccurate and also ridiculed the prime minister’s assertion that Iran has missiles that could hit the US.

Dagan also said Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress was “a political speech that caused diplomatic and defense damage to Israel,” and while an Iranian nuke is an “almost intolerable threat” to Israel, the way Netanyahu has handled the issue has hurt efforts to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear armament program.

Tens of thousands attended the rally, which was held under the title “Israel wants change.”

The Facebook page for the event said “Netanyahu’s leadership has failed. After being in power for six years and heading two governments, the situation has only become more difficult for Israelis: the cost of living has gone up, there is a real estate crisis, there is no security, no peace, no hope.

This was a political rally, akin to the massive U.S. election pre-election rallies political parties stage here. According to the Jersualem Post, the organizing group “Million Hands,” advocates a two-state solution and sees “the need to separate from the Palestinians through establishing clear borders – a necessary step in ensuring the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” The paper quotes a spokesman who calls it a “political, nonpartisan rally” which was not organized by any political party. Still, the Post notes, “supporters of the Meretz party and the Zionist Union were out in force, and placards for Peace Now dotted the crowd.” But that’s logical because these groups would be opposing Netanyahu anyway.

Meanwhile, Newsweek reports that Netanyahu is falling behind his rival, but could still stay in office if his party joins with others in a coalition. But the speech engineered by House Speaker John Boehner — at this point — seems not have shaken up the race.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is two seats behind its main election rival with just over a week to go before the crunch vote, as his controversial Washington speech fails to translate into notable domestic political gains, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted for The Jerusalem Post and Maariv News by Panels Research, showed that if Israelis went to the polls today, the opposition Zionist Union, led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, would gain 24 seats in the Knesset, the Irsaeli parliament, to Likud’s 22.

A poll conducted immediately after Netanyahu’s speech by the same research company predicted 23 seats for the Zionist Union and 22 for Likud in the March 17 vote, showing that the Herzog’s Zionist Union had retrieved a seat in the days following the speech.

However, Avraham Diskin, professor of political science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem says that, while Netanyahu is not witnessing an upturn in the polls ahead of the election, what is crucial is who can form the largest coalition, with 60 seats or more needed out of the Knesset’s 120.

The right-wing parties within Israel, such as economy minister Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party and foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, hold almost enough to form a majority coalition government with Netanyahu’s Likud, adds Diskin.

“There is usually a big difference between what we have in the public opinion polls and on election day,” he says. “It doesn’t really matter what party comes first [in the polls], what matters is the possibility to form coalitions.”

“If the Right has a majority, it doesn’t really matter if the Zionist camp is ahead even by five seats because there is a majority for a coalition led by Netanyahu.”

If Netanyahu wins, many will attribute it to his speech, Boehner’s help, and billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s major pro-Netanyahu influence in Israel. If he loses, it’ll be attributed to John Boenher and Bibi’s overreaching. And, if Netanyahu wins, look for American political parties in the future to have foreign leaders speak even if the White House opposes it — and even though some say the Boehner/Netanyahu event was flat-out unconstitutional.

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