Friday, January 16, 2015

The Paris effect that wasn’t

[The following was originally written in Dutch by Beate Zilversmidt for the website of the Amsterdam-based “Other Jewish Voice”]

Two news items on the same day:

- Jewish ultra-orthodox school closed in Amsterdam, as in Bruxelles and Antwerpen.

- In a Channel-10 opinion poll the Herzog/Livni Labor Party up and with 26 seats leading; leaving  the Likud behind at 24.

That in Amsterdam a Jewish school was closed for security reasons - it struck me painfully. But in the  Israeli news, it was not more than a side note. It was the week after the Paris upheaval.

We in Israel did expect things would have an impact on our elections. That was also what Netanyahu thought when he rushed to Paris calling upon the Jews in France to turn their back to France and make aliya. If that is what the French knew he would do, then they had reason not to want him there, at such a sensitive occasion. Representatives of French Jewry themselves complained, feeling undermined at the very moment that they have asked  for better protection, in France.

But, Netanyahu was speaking over their heads to the Israeli electorate. And if the polls would have shown this week Netanyahu's Likud going up, we would not have been surprised. We would have told ourselves: it is the Paris effect; it will pass. That the opposite happened, that may indicate that Bibi's  fear mongering and world unfriendliness don't bring Israelis anymore to flock behind him. And that in such a week the chances of Herzog go up - if this is proof of an undercurrent coming more and more to the surface, then we may really look forward to a change in the political balance of power.

Here a ray of hope during Europe’s dark hour?