Election Chronicles > Elections > 1973 Elections

1973 Elections

  

Elections for the eighth Knesset were held on December 31, 1973, after having been postponed due to the Yom Kippur War. The shadow of the war dominated the elections, with many citizens still in the army and the IDF still present in a Syrian enclave and beyond the Suez Canal. The elections had been scheduled for October 30, 1973, but the war had broken out on October 6. During her time in office, Prime Minister Golda Meir had assembled a close-knit group of Ma'arach ministers and it seemed that they would succeed Golda, who was ill with cancer. Meanwhile, significant changes had taken place on the right of the political spectrum, chief among them the establishment of the Likud. Ariel Sharon, who had retired from the IDF in the summer of 1973, initiated a merger of Gachal with several smaller right-wing parties, thus creating a political body of 31 mandates to oppose the Ma'arach. The Likud was headed by Menachem Begin, who was surrounded by a group of young politicians. The Ma'arach sought to convey an air of quiet leadership, confidence and responsibility, but the war rocked the country and the political system. In the foreshortened election campaign before the country went to the polls in December, the public was primarily focused on harsh accusations against Golda Meir and her government. Citizens went to the polls with a sense of shock and dismay.
Wounded soldiers voting at Tel haShomer hospital

 

 

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Terrorism

The period prior to elections for the eighth Knesset was one of heightened security concerns, not only because of the Yom Kippur War. Palestinian terror had been on the rise since 1970, with Palestinian organizations carrying out high-publicity attacks in Israel as well as other countries. In May 1972, members of the terrorist organization Black September hijacked a Sabena Airlines airplane that was on its way from Brussels to Tel Aviv. The plane landed at Lod airport and was liberated in a daring IDF operation. At the end of the same month, three Japanese terrorists from the Japanese Red Army, which was allied with the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine, landed at Lod airport. The three opened fire in the passenger lounge, killing 24 people. In early September 1972, Palestinian terrorists kidnapped a group of Israeli athletes and coaches at the Olympic village in Munich, where the games were being held. A battle ensued with the German security forces; eleven Israelis and one German were killed.  The government of Israel adopted an uncompromising policy of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. Israeli security and intelligence forces were dispatched to hunt down and eliminate terrorists all over the world.  Israel also engaged in military counter-terrorist activities in Lebanon and elsewhere.
Saadat and Arafat praying for a Ma'arach victory
Economic Flux
A consequence of the Six-Day War was territorial and economic expansion of the State of Israel. Contractors grew wealthy as a result of large military building projects along the Suez Canal. The economy prospered and there was a significant rise in the amount of currency in circulation. The workers sensed it was a good time to ask for a raise. The head of the Histadrut at the time was Yitzhak Ben Aharon, an assertive and charismatic Mapai veteran. Ben Aharon supported the demands of workers' unions and a wave of long and difficult strikes ensued. Increased wages contributed to inflation and prices rose steadily, as the demand for more money grew. This process persisted in 1972 and 1973, but the prevailing opinion was that Israel was not on the brink of an economic crisis, but merely dealing with the implications of expansion and growth. The Labor party conveyed the message that the economic situation would find a new equilibrium in the radically altered circumstances in which the country found itself. The unexpected war that broke out on October 6 changed everything. The cost of the war in foreign currency, human resources, and indirect expenses weighed heavily on the economy.​ Yadlin: Don't forget the Likud's social and economic positions
 

 

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​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

  

The Yom Kippur War
Elections for the eighth Knesset were postponed, for the first time in the history of the state. They were dominated by the shadow of the Yom Kippur War, which lasted from 6-24 October, 1973. An atmosphere of excessive confidence had prevailed in Israel since the victory in the Six-Day War of 1967. Golda Meir's government rejected international attempts to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and its neighbors on the basis of territorial compromise. A clandestine warning from Jordan's King Hussein reached Tel Aviv just days before the war. Still, the country's leaders failed to acknowledge the danger. IDF intelligence spoke of the "low probability" of war. On the afternoon of Yom Kippur, Syria and Egypt attacked Israel. The battles were fierce, with many casualties, and during the early days of the war, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan spoke of the danger of "the destruction of the third Temple". The IDF eventually prevailed, reaching the outskirts of Damascus, extending beyond the Suez Canal, and encircling the Third Army in Sinai. Nevertheless, the war was perceived as the result of a political, military and conceptual failure, and one of the most shocking upheavals in the history of the state. 
חיילים ממערב לתעלת סואץ עומדים בתור לפני אוהל הצבעה כדי להצביע בבחירות לכנסת השמינית.
 

 

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​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

  

David Elazar
David Elazar (1925-1976) was born in Yugoslavia and came to Palestine during World War II. He was injured while fighting in the Palmach, but returned to the front as a regimental commander. He advanced through the ranks of the IDF and in 1964 was appointed Major General of the Northern Command. David Elazar (Dado) played a central role in the occupation of the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War. In early 1972, Elazar was appointed the ninth Chief of Staff of the IDF. In this capacity he dealt extensively with counter-terrorism. He was also chief of staff before and during the Yom Kippur War and was subsequently accused to failing to prepare the IDF properly. The state commission of inquiry convened after the war under the leadership of Justice Agranat, found David Elazar personally responsible for the unprepared state of the IDF. The commission recommended that Elazar be demoted from his position, after which he resigned. Elazar, who was a popular commander, became the focus of a public dispute. Many saw him as directly responsible for the military failure before the Yom Kippur War. Nevertheless, many objected to the fact that Elazar was forced to pay a heavy price while the politicians evaded censure. His supporters praised his leadership and discretion in handling the war. David Elazar died in 1976.
David Elazar (1925-1976)
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​

  

 

  

The Black Panthers
Candidates for the 1973 elections included the Black Panthers. This movement was established in 1971 in the Musrara neighborhood of Jerusalem by young Mizrahi Jews. They sought to bring their communities' socio-economic plight to the forefront of the public agenda, particularly in light of the incumbent establishment. The Black panthers took their name from the movement in the United States that inspired their message and tactics. Economic and social inequalities in Israel, the ethnic divide, and the absence of a sense of belonging among the children of immigrants from Arab countries were the main issues that concerned them. They organized demonstrations, some of which turned violent, and tried to call the attention of the public and the state leadership to their plight. Prime Minister Golda Meir dismissed them contemptuously and refused to acknowledge the movement's legitimacy. After an unruly meeting with five Black Panther leaders Golda stated that they were "not nice". This utterance would become a symbol of the establishment's detachment. The Black Panthers ran in the 1973 elections and came close to surpassing the minimum threshold, with 13,332 votes. Eventually, the movement spilt up and several of its leaders joined other left-wing parties.
The Black Panthers
 

 

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All Elections
​1949 •​ 1951​ •​ ​1955 •​ 1959 •​ 1961 •​​ 1965 •​​ 1969 •​​ 1973 •​​ 1977 •​​ 1981

 

1984​ •​​ 1988​​​ •​​ 1992​ •​​ 1996​​ •​​ 1999​​ •​​ 2001​​ •​​​​ 2003​​ •​​​ 2006 •​​​​ 2009​​