There, now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you that the Middle East of this morning is fundamentally the same as it was yesterday. We have not had a major upheaval; lives are not at risk (at least not in the purest, most direct sense of the word).
I’m not in mourning – in fact, quite the opposite. I celebrate the democracy we are. The people have spoken. No, not exactly as I had hoped but that is for another time. If you are right-wing and you went on a tiyul yesterday instead of voting – you (and I) will live with that decision. In truth, I don’t believe we will live with it long because I believe the election results have put Bibi in a difficult position. With each partner he takes into his government, he will face a contradiction with another.
Bibi, who likes to make broad, large governments (because it gives him more power to maneuver), finds himself this morning in the narrowest of coalitions. His basic format is likely to be to form a coalition with Yesh Atid and Bayit HaYehudi. That makes 61 – you can’t get more narrow than that. From there, he’s stuck.
Bring in the Haredi parties who can usually be bought for a few promises and cash on the table, and he’ll annoy Yesh Atid, which lives to point out how Haredim get everything for free and offer nothing (conveniently sidestepping, of course, amazing organizations like ZAKA, Ezer Mizion, Yad Sarah, etc.). They won’t sit with Yair Lapid as he demands their sons serve; and Lapid won’t accept a Bibi promise of more exemptions.
Bring in Labor or Kadima (if they make it to the final count), he’ll annoy Bayit HaYehudi and have to make promises about settlements that will shake his coalition. One side won’t accept renewed building; the other is likely to protest a continued freeze.
I had hoped that Otzma L’Yisrael would make it into the government as a counter balance to much of the left-wing and Arab parties. I had hoped to have a voice reminding us that Israel is a Jewish state to counter those who would demand we sacrifice, condemn ourselves, and surrender to weakness. With them out of the government, as it currently appears they will be, that leaves this role to Bayit HaYehudi.
If I were to predict a future, it would likely include new elections – but then again, that’s not much of a prediction. We have elections relatively often in Israel and to be honest, we all love a day off that isn’t Shabbat or a holiday, so no one is going to complain.
I think the chances of peace are more remote than ever with this government because it is a stalemate government – given enough power to rule, not enough to change realities – if any government ever can be. And just as the chances for peace are remote, the flip side is there too. The likelihood of another war is that much stronger.
And before you accuse me of being a warmonger, I’ll tell you that for the last two rounds, it has been my older son on the front lines, my middle son in the wings and with the next war, it could be my younger son in the ranks as well. I don’t want war.
And finally, this morning after the elections, I’ll tell you that I think Israel was played by the media and the journalists and we were played well. For weeks, the media has predicted a landslide right-wing victory. In making this claim, they spurred the left to the polls and lead the right-wing into complacency.
Do the election results accurately portray the Israel that woke up this morning? To some degree yes, and to some degree no. Certainly had the media been more accurate, more right-wing voters would have come out and perhaps others might have changed their vote.
But whatever the results, I am left with the clear feeling that the more things change in Israel, the more they remain the same. Yesh Atid will step up and in and I would venture to guess that the world of real politics will be an experience for Yair Lapid.
A look at some of the first-time Knesset members is interesting. Moshe Feiglin has been working for many years to get in – and now he will take a seat. I can’t help but feel he will be as crippled at the Netanyahu government in attempting to separate out his agenda from the political quagmire that will be Israel’s next government.
Dov Lipman is in – a voice for new immigrants and olim in general. I can’t help but feel that in the months to come, he will be challenged as an Orthodox Jew vs. a member of Yesh Atid. He doesn’t believe it and I can only hope he is right. I pray that the Yair Lapid he knows is not the man I have seen once in person, a few times in video.
I can predict that building won’t start anytime soon on E1 – Bibi promised in the past before previous elections and reneged; he will again. He’ll make motions to draft more Haredim – but in truth, those motions are already in place and they can’t be done more quickly from a logistics standpoint. The army just can’t absorb so many, so fast and other institutions also need time – so that too was mostly politics.
Lower housing costs…
These issues are what they have always been – political promises lost in the day to day running of the government. Did Israel wake up to a new reality? A huge change in all we have known?
No, we woke up to the sun shining with partially cloudy skies; we woke up to the Kinneret rising, traffic on the streets, and fresh bread in the stores.
We got our children off to school today, as we did yesterday and as we will tomorrow and we went off to work. There was an average amount of traffic on the way in, a number of accidents here and there. We stopped at the bank, walked the dog, waited for the children to cross the street.
In short, above all the politics of yesterday is the reality and the promise of today. It is something above all politics, above all politicians. It is something that the Obamas of the world don’t understand. We are Israelis – above all, beyond all.
If there is a change in the political make up in the very nice building that is the Knesset, it is nothing to how we live our lives. The democracy of Israel enables us to change our leaders without changing the most important realities of our lives.
Yesterday, we celebrated our democracy – today, we come back to reality. Our sons still sit on our borders, fly our skies, patrol our waters. We are still surrounded by enemies that still want to destroy us. We are still isolated from much of the world, despised and hated – not for what we do or who we elect, but for an ancient promise that we will cling to forever.
Bottom line – Bibi is going to have a hard day today; Yair probably has a hangover from celebrating last night, Naftali is happy to have launched his political career, Shelley’s a bit shocked, Tzipi is in her perpetual state of nasty, Shaul has his finger’s crossed and he’s praying to God like he never has before. Aryeh and Michael are smiling because whatever they would have done from the inside, they’ll still do from the outside.
And the rest of us – we are living our dream in the land of our fathers. It doesn’t, really, get any better than that.
War, poverty, pestilence and new elections will come or not and as a nation, we’ll deal, as we always do. And we’ll smile because we went hiking yesterday or had a barbecue, or our traditional election meal with friends. The homemade garlic bread was a success, the meat sauce delicious.
And today, we’re back at our desks and smiling because this is our lives.