Briefly: The big surprise in the Israeli election was the sudden rise of
Yair Lapid, a handsome and photogenic MSM celebrity “known for his
chic, casual black clothing,” as The New York Times wrote,
seemingly out of nowhere. But in politics, nothing comes out of nowhere
and spontaneous awakenings like Lapid’s come in reaction to something
else. Israel has recently been through a critical sequence: In October,
Benjamin Netanyahu called for early elections to maximize his chances of
reelection. Rockets fired from Gaza in mid-November attempted to
intimidate the Israeli electorate. They did just the opposite and
awakened a warrior instinct. Suddenly Israel then began to hear about
the young Naftali Bennett, “the Zionist pin-up blazing a trail,” and his
equally young colleague Ayelet Shaked, who rose to the Knesset in the
Jewish Home Party with a determination to defend Israel.
They championed the settler movement and had an archetypal appeal to the young. Moshe Feiglin, who calls for Israel to become “a Jewish state” instead of a “state for Jews,” ran parallel with Bennett and Shaked in a call for a Jewish state. The influential Caroline Glick called this "The Second Zionist Revolution." Suddenly the settler movement became mainstream and the mainstream was for the first time linked through Bennett and Shaked and Feiglin to the Haredi and their rabbis, and to the eternal and timeless core of Judaism.
’Twas ever thus. Within these two new groups timeless will grow into time and Israel has found a new beginning. But my first impression from the perfect photograph last week of Bennett and Shaked in an important New Yorker essay (“Letter from Jerusalem: The Party Faithful” by David Remnick, 1/21/13) was of Joan Baez and Bob Dylan onstage in Newport, R.I., when she was still wearing those plain skirts and singing Appalachian church songs with Doc Watson and Mother Carter. That was 50 years ago and still it multiplies. It grew then and exploded and morphed into something astonishing and unpredictable and something between Feiglin and Shaked and Bennett could and will as well.
This is important because what happens in Israel today is happening here. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has recently spoken with Bennett in Israel, and Likud’s rising Danny Danon said recently that Likud was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool. He invited Glenn Beck to speak to Israel.
Counter force will come here as well. It will be called something like “No Labels” and bring in those who get along in opposition: Alaskan Joe Miller’s nemesis, for example, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I). And they will have all the tools; TV, Hollywood, Congress, MSM and the courts, and they will need them.