It looked as if today’s primaries to choose the candidate roster for Israel’s ruling Likud party was going to be delayed by Operation Pillar of Defense. But the party showed resilience and went to the polls as scheduled — only to have the process descend in to a shambles by problems with the snazzy computerized system on which members are meant to vote.
Several polling stations have closed due to malfunctions and at other stations some people have been told that the system is out of service but they should come back later. Gideon Saar, Likud lawmaker and Education Minister, has called the voting process “a farce” and suggested it should be rescheduled.
What does this mean politically? Given that it’s presumed to be almost certain that Likud will form the next government (along with its running partner Yisrael Beytenu), the composition of the party is very important in setting the legislative agenda for the next Knesset.
But before considering the significance of the computer problem let’s factor in another relevant point. Likud members also have the weather to contend with. It’s a rainy day in large parts of Israel, and Israelis don’t like to go out in the rain unless they really have to. Now, in Likud, it’s the strongly pro-settlement right wingers who are the most determined to vote, and who are most likely to make sure that the make the poll despite the obstacles. And as we reported here there’s a large number of highly ideological new recruits to Likud who are determined for the party to make a sharp right turn. This could well be their day.
Republicans talked tough on Iran in the lead-up to today’s New Hampshire primary, but it wasn’t Jewish voters they were hoping to impress.
At the January 7 Republican presidential debate, Rick Santorum called Iran “the most pressing issue we deal with today.” Frontrunner Mitt Romney accused President Obama of failing to demonstrate to the Iranians a willingness to use military force to prevent them from building a nuclear arsenal.
Their strong words may appeal to some Jewish Republicans, but Republican Jews aren’t their main targets. That’s because there aren’t many Jews in New Hampshire at all, let alone Jewish Republicans.
And the candidates don’t seem to be going out of their way to appeal to the few Jewish voters as they campaign for the January 10 New Hampshire primaries, the first actual traditional secret ballot votes in the 2012 cycle.
“I haven’t heard of one [Republican campaign] event in New Hampshire that was specifically geared to the Jewish community,” said Jeff Fladen, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of New Hampshire. “Not one.”