According to a new poll by Angus-Ried’s Israeli subsidiary ‘Dialogue’ [available here], Israel’s far-right former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is now the most popular politician in the country. For any lover of peace and dispiser of racism, this would be a sad day simply by virtue of the party standings in this poll – Likud (which, if you don’t know what they’re like, think of the hard-line of the US Republican Party and you’ll have a rough approximation) is first, the centre-left Labour party is down slightly from their last election results, and Yisrael Beytenu (another right-wing party) is in third place and up in popularity from their last election results.
But what really troubles be about this poll is the continued strength of Netanyahu’s Likud Party despite recent remarks. On January 3rd, the Jurusalem Post noted here that Netanyahu had the following words to say about the massive cuts to child welfare he instituted when he was PM:
“Two positive things happened,” he told a conference of haredi government officials in Nir Etzion this week. “Members of the haredi public seriously joined the workforce. And on the national level, the unexpected result was the demographic effect on the non-Jewish public, where there was a dramatic drop in the birth rate.”
That’s right folks, you read that correctly, it’s a positive thing that the Arabs are now too poor to feed their children. The Jurusalem Post article went on to explain that:
“The once-and-possibly-future prime minister of Israel says publicly that he’s sorry his welfare cuts made life harder for Jewish families who are “blessed,” as he put it, with many children, but isn’t it “positive” that these cuts resulted in fewer Arab children being born? Then Netanyahu went on to suggest a national remedy for the victims of his economic policies – but for Jewish victims only, not Arab victims.”
So this was on January 3rd. The Angus-Ried poll was released on January 15th. So Netanyahu makes a remark that one positive ancillary benefit to giving children less aid was that there were fewer non-Jews born and less than two weeks later he’s the most popular politician in the country with an increase in popularity since November 2006.
The collective lament of France’s Jean-Marie Le Pen, Italy’s Alessandra Mussolini (Benito Mussolini’s granddaughter), Austria’s Jorg Haider, and others on the far-right, pleading “O’ for the days when racism was rewarded…” has, with this poll, been answered.