As Knesset member Orly Levy-Abekasis promotes her newly formed party, her popularity already points to a changing of the old guard in Israeli politics.
Orly Levy-Abekasis is pictured in an image uploaded March 7, 2018.
Knesset member Orly Levy-Abekasis announced the establishment of a new party March 6. Opinion polls published in the days that followed were flattering, and it seems that the old, established parties with strong social platforms have reason to be worried. True, her latest achievement exists only on paper, but the recent Hadashot poll that awarded her new party five seats is telling.
Intriguingly, the poll gave her more support than the leader of her former party Yisrael Beitenu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. The poll gave him only four seats, meaning that he could find himself below the threshold and out of the Knesset in the next election. Levy-Abekasis left Yisrael Beitenu in a huff in May 2016, when she was excluded from negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that eventually put Liberman in the Defense Ministry. Liberman also decided not to make Levy-Abekasis a minister even though she was second on his list and a highly regarded Knesset member in her own right with an impressive record of social legislation.
No less interesting than the emerging battle between Liberman and his former protege is the way that this young Knesset member, who focuses on social issues such as public housing and the rights of women and children, has surpassed both the current defense minister and a former one, Moshe Ya’alon. According to the poll, Ya’alon, who is also trying to form a new party, would not meet the electoral threshold.
Also trailing behind her is the chairman of Shas, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who was also given just four seats and is teetering on the electoral threshold. Another man who could suffer from Levy-Abekasis’ momentum is the chairman of Kulanu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. Though Kahlon was once branded as a powerful social warrior, the most recent poll gives him only six seats, almost half of what he won in the last election.
At first glance, Kahlon and Levy-Abekasis seem to check all the same boxes. They both come from Mizrahi families, they both grew up in the periphery and they were both raised in Likud homes. They both have a clear social agenda. But his years as finance minister have worn away much of Kahlon’s appeal, while Levy-Abekasis’ new party seems like a breath of fresh air in the next election. She is an articulate woman, a social warrior with a record of success, and she has public and media appeal. She will have many advantages in the important new media platforms.
A major boost for Levy-Abekasis’ emerging campaign came in the form of an announcement from the office of Education Minister Naftali Bennett on the evening of March 15 that the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement would be awarded to her father, former Foreign Minister David Levy. Bennett and the award committee wrote, “David Levy’s personal story is the story of a boy who immigrated to Israel from Rabat, Morocco, to a transit camp and then a development town, and from there jumped to the heart of public and social activity within the melting pot of Israeli society.” They went on to call Levy “a social fighter for the weaker sectors of the population, a workers’ leader and a representative of the development towns and the periphery.”
Levy-Abekasis is the ninth of Levy’s 12 children and the second with a career in national politics. Her elder brother Jackie Levy now serves as the Likud’s deputy minister of housing. Public sentiment toward her should warm further when her father is given that prestigious award on Independence Day. It will certainly boost her brand as a social warrior. After all, she is the daughter of a trailblazer who shattered the glass ceiling for Mizrahim in national politics.
When Levy-Abekasis announced that she was founding a new party with a social and civil platform at the Sderot conference earlier this month, it should have come as no surprise. She had been laying the groundwork for a year and a half. Throughout that time, established and new parties invited her to join their ranks, including an attempt by Ya’alon to include her in his new party. Instead, Levy-Abekasis decided to go for it on her own.
“Why is it legitimate to have a former model serve as finance minister and manage the state budget one minute after he decided to run for Knesset?” she asked at the Sderot conference in a stinging reference to former Finance Minister Yair Lapid. “But when I get up after nine years in politics, after everything I’ve done, and announce time after time that I will be forming my own party, journalists still insist on asking me which party I will be joining. What’s not clear? I am forming a new party, I will head it, and I will represent the public without bias.”
She went on, “When I look at the candidates we have now, I’m forced to admit that they are all rather similar. Have you noticed that they are all friends with one another?”
There are very few women heads of Israeli political parties. Even fewer have founded new ones. What should make Levy-Abekasis a rising political force is her potential to draw a diverse group of supporters, including women, Mizrahim, residents of the periphery and voters with a strong social agenda. Before every election in Israel, there is a large number of undecided voters. As a highly regarded and active politician untainted by scandal, Levy-Abekasis could attract these voters, too. She could also “steal” votes from parties like Yesh Atid, the Zionist Camp and of course, Kahlon’s Kulanu and Shas, whose chairman vowed to fight for the “invisible sectors” of the population but who, according to the most recent polls, may not even pass the electoral threshold. While Shas is an ultra-Orthodox party, it also has a voter base of Mizrahi women who could end up supporting Levy-Abekasis. It is actually Liberman’s base with which she has the least in common, since his hardcore supporters are Russian immigrants.
In an interview the day after the poll’s findings were released, Abekasis seemed confident that she could win even more seats in the next election than the poll predicted. She said that she’s “going for a big win.”
Her parliamentary activity never included diplomatic issues, even when she was part of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu. When asked about her foreign policy positions, she presented a moderate line on the Palestinian issue, though overall, she always preferred to focus on social rights and other civil issues as her primary ideological concern.
The 44-year-old mother of four represents a changing of the guard in Israeli politics that places her alongside other prominent political figures like Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and the new chairman of the Labor Party, Avi Gabbay. Assuming she succeeds in gaining supporters, she has a good chance of becoming a minister in the next government. She may even hold the balance of power.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — which seeks to criminalize criticism of migration — is nothing more or less than a dangerous effort to weaken national borders, to normalize mass migration, to blur the line between legal and illegal immigration, and to bolster the idea that people claiming to be refugees enjoy a panoply of rights in countries where they have never before set foot.
One thing about the agreement, in any event, is irrefutable: almost nobody in the Western world has been clamoring for this. It is, quite simply, a project of the globalist elites. It is a UN power-grab.
The waterfront in the Chilean city of Valdivia. Photo: Arvid Puschnig via Wikimedia Commons.
Top Jewish groups have welcomed a Chilean government decision made earlier this week to ban municipalities across the country from boycotting Israel.
The ruling — issued by the Comptroller General of Chile – stemmed from a complaint filed by the Chilean Jewish community over a move of the Valdivia municipality to ban the city from signing contracts with Israel-linked companies.
Spurred by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation and the realization that elections will likely be moved to early 2019, the leaders of the Druze community are determined to fight against the Nationality Law.
Leaders from the Druze minority and others take part in a rally to protest the Jewish nation-state law in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, Aug. 4, 2018
It certainly seems like Israel is headed toward early elections. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned Nov. 14, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett were both part of the current right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, competing over which of them was its most right-wing member
Israel has started uncovering and destroying Hezbollah’s attack tunnels under the Lebanese border, but destroying the group’s ambitious precision missile project will be much more difficult.
The Israel Defense Forces placed a camera into Hezbollah’s secret cross-border attack tunnel before sunrise on Dec. 4. They pushed it into the Lebanese side, under the Blue Line that separates the two countries. At dawn, two Hezbollah operatives reached the spot on their morning rounds. In the video disseminated by the IDF on Tuesday evening, one of the operatives is seen approaching the camera with suspicion. He stuck his nose in its direction and started to sniff around until something exploded in his face and he ran back the way he’d comVisibilitye.
The timing of Operation Northern Shield, to destroy Hezbollah tunnels leading from Lebanon into Israel, suggests that considerations other than security were behind the decision to launch it.
An Israeli commando from Yahalom, an engineering unit, takes part in a tunnel-hunting drill near Tel Aviv, March 7, 2012.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Likud activists on Dec. 2 that was both defensive and combative toward law enforcement authorities. He complained about the supposedly suspicious timing of the police announcement recommending his indictment for taking bribes in Case 4000, coming as it did one day before Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh concluded his term in office.
This week, for the first time, Israel made public its discovery of the tunnel constructed by Hezbollah and reaching into Israel’s sovereign territory. This brought to an end a long period during which a large number of Israelis living in communities adjacent to the Lebanese border reported hearing sounds of digging as well as feeling tremors in the walls of their homes.
Attack tunnels are intended to allow for significant numbers of armed infantry bearing weapons, artillery and supplies, to traverse them within a minimal time span, avoiding Israeli lookouts and thereby gaining the element of surprise.
Last Saturday, Iran’s “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani called Israel “a cancerous tumor” in a speech at the regime’s annual Islamic Unity Conference.
Rouhani’s fellow speakers included deputy Hezbollah chief Naim Qassem and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh. Both terror bosses called for the destruction of the “cancerous tumor.”
With the predictability of a Swiss clock, the Europeans rushed to condemn Rouhani. The EU in Brussels condemned Rouhani. The German Foreign Ministry condemned Rouhani. And so on and so forth.
We could have done without their statements.
It was clear that with the onset of Operation Northern Shield—meant to neutralize terror tunnels Hezbollah has constructed along the Israel-Lebanon border—some would call it a public relations stunt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Those who believe the timing of the police’s recommendations in Case 4000—announced on the last day of Roni Alsheikh’s tenure as the police commissioner—was reasonable, somehow complain about the timing of the operation.
On Sunday evening, December 2, the people of Sderot, Israel – a town located a mere kilometer from the Gaza border – gathered to light the first candle of the town’s menorah to commemorate the first day of Hanukkah. Jews around the world celebrate this holiday, which marks the time some two millennia ago when the Jews regained control of Jerusalem and rededicated the Second Temple.
What makes the candle lighting in Sderot worth mentioning is the fact that it is particularly symbolic of how the Jewish spirit looks for ways to turn tragedy into triumph.
This is obviously a short-lived honeymoon that will end the day after the UN General Assembly vote on the anti-Hamas resolution. The morning after the vote, Abbas will wake up to the realization that Hamas was a strange bedfellow indeed.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hatred of Hamas is far from secret. But Abbas is now defending Hamas because he despises the Trump administration, which has sponsored a UN draft resolution that condemns Hamas. Pictured: Abbas (right) meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on May 30, 2007 in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Abu Askar/PPO via Getty Images)