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Israeli Voters Are Shattering Several Myths

With hours to go, some election surprises

Adam Chandler
January 22, 2013
Yair Lapid(AP)
Yair Lapid(AP)

As the polling in Israel continues, there are some real surprises that have upended much of the conventional wisdom about the Israeli elections.

Among the myths seemingly being laid to waste:

Myth #1: Israelis are disaffected and checked out.
Counterpoint: The voter turnout in Israel is the highest since 1999 (when Netanyahu was thrown out of office). The most recent numbers released by the Elections Committee show that almost 64% of Israelis have voted. The total may eclipse 70% by the end of the day.

Myth #2: The Israeli electorate is swerving to the right.
Counterpoint: The high voter turnout has done surprising things for what was supposed to be a country-wide rightward lurch. Among the main beneficiaries are center-left parties, who appear to be performing pretty well.

Myth #3: Naftali Bennett and The Jewish Home party were Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s biggest threat.
Counterpoint: As Bibi fretted that he was going to be flanked from the right by Naftali Bennett, so far it seems as Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, is performing extraordinarily well and may well become the country’s second-largest party. Considering that Netanyahu campaigned largely on security to fend off Bennett’s surge, Yair Lapid and, to some extent, the Labor Party are reaping the benefits from a focus on the economic issues that the J14 tent protests brought to the surface in the summer of 2011.

Myth #4: The Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu superparty juggernaut was invincible.
Counterpoint: While the party will be the biggest, it has slipped significantly in the polls. There are reports, which may ultimately amount to spin, that panic has set in and Likud-Beiteinu meetings have devolved into bickering matches over who is to blame for the poor showing.

More to come.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.