Ha’aretz has recently exposed the latest scandal in its favorite series, How to Make the Right Look Wrong: Sara Netanyahu, Israel’s much-adored first lady, has apparently been making thousands of shekels by recycling bottles which weren’t hers, from the Prime Minister’s home. Granted, it’s newsworthy. It’s embarrassing. But it’s not a reason not to vote for Bibi.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of other reasons not to vote for Bibi. Like the fact that he has had plenty of chances and has not gotten us one step closer to peace. Or the fact that we’d rather have affordable housing than new settlements. Or that we want to keep what little we have left of our relationship with the United States. The reasons not to vote for Bibi are not about his personality, and certainly not about his wife’s.
In fact, if it were about charisma and charm, I would vote for Bibi. Or Bennett. Or for anyone, really, except Buji and Livni, who are about as exciting as the invitees at my grandfather’s retirement party. But it’s not about charisma. It’s about the big picture.
True, elected officials need to be held to the same – if not higher – standard as the rest of us. And stealing money is bad. But so is having an affair with your intern and then lying about it to your whole country, right? A lot of things are bad, but we’re not voting for a life-partner or parent – we’re voting for the person who will run this country. We are voting for someone who will do everything to ensure that when we have kids, we will be able to tell them that when they grow up they won’t need to go to the army. We are voting for someone who will take just a little bit of the cynicism out of our hollow laughs. We are voting for someone who will make this place a little better, or at least not worse.
Buji and Livni have a great advantage in these elections, and that is the fact that they are not Bibi. But while that might be enough to get my vote, it’s not enough to move a country. And if somehow they do form a government, not being Bibi is not much of a plan. “It’s us or him” reads the cover photo on Buji’s Facebook page. “It’s us or them,” says Bibi’s.
Mind-blowing slogans, of course. About as exciting as recycling bottles. But not what these elections should be about. We need televised debates. We need them to talk about what they are going to do. And we need to shift our gossipy focus from who the candidates (and their spouses) are, and try to understand what they are about. What are they going to do, when and how.