Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Warning From History Israel Election 1996

Right wing hate speech and Hamas terror attacks, turned a 20 point lead by Shimon Perez over Benjamin Netanyahu into a last minute victory for Netanyahu!

Here is a recap of the events leading up to that election:

1993:     Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords signed by Prime Minister Yitzahak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.  Rabin, despite his extensive service in the Israeli military, was disparaged personally by right-wing conservatives and Likud leaders who perceived the Oslo peace process as an attempt to forfeit the occupied territories
November 4, 1995 Minister Yitzahak Rabin was assassinated by an ultra nationalist radically opposed to Rabin’s peace initiative and the Oslo Accords.  Netanyahu was the head of the right-wing Likud party and leader of the parliamentary opposition in 1995. In a film by Amos Gitai “Rabin, the Last Day”, we see Netanyahu speaking at rallies where his supporters held up posters calling for the deaths of Rabin, Peres and Arafat and the extermination or expulsion of all Arabs on Israeli-held land. He surely saw the homemade images of Rabin in a keffiyeh, or Palestinian-style headscarf, and the other images, the ones depicting Rabin wearing an SS officer’s uniform. He saw people staging a mock funeral for Rabin, carrying a coffin through the streets. He saw all those things and said nothing about any of them. Indeed, he embraced that situation as a political opportunity.

1996: After Rabin’s assassination Netanyahu’s popularity plummeted as he was seen by many Israelis as being at least partially responsible thru his hate rhetoric. Shimon Perez the Israeli Prime Minister called for early elections and was ahead of Netanyahu by 20 points early in the election cycle. 

However, the country was hit by a spate of suicide attacks by Hamas including the Jerusalem bus 18 massacres and other attacks in Ashkelon and the Dizengoff Center, which killed 59 people, severely damaged Peres' election chances. Polls taken in mid-May showed Peres ahead by just 4-6%, whilst two days before the election his lead was down to 2%. On election day Netanyahu won by 1%.

For people who feel comforted by Trumps drop in the polls, be aware of past history; let’s hope it is not repeated! Remember a few days ago there was near panic at the NY airport caused by people making lots of noise celebrating Usain Bolt’s Olympic achievements. Fear makes people irrational! 

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