So my friends, Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz reached an agreement that saved the country hundreds of millions of NIS, saved us all from a needless election campaign, and put us exactly where we would have been after the dust and election stickers were cleared (give or take a dozen or so coalition members and sans the new stock of celebrity politicians – but don’t you worry, they will be here soon enough).
What fascinates me in all this is not the fact that we are not going to elections. If you read what I posted Sunday and stated on the radio this week and last – THAT is no shocker. What is a shock and really fascinating is how little the media and pundits think of the all-new and powerful Mofaz. Fact is that they think so little of him that they are completely ignoring his entire statement in the Knesset from 02:30 this morning.
Shaul Mofaz made it abundantly clear that his singular motivation, his overriding goal in making this deal with Netanyahu is election reform. All the rest is gravy. He repeated himself over and over and yet – nada! It’s all aboutIranand the Arabs they continue to clamber and claim – and Mofaz says no! It’s all about the Jews! It’s about how decisions are made in the Jewish State!
I tend to believe the man. I served under him during Operation Defensive Shield ten years ago and learned on the field of battle that he is no dummy. He is also no political novice. He maneuvered cleverly for the past few years and ultimately took control of his party. Rather than crash and burn in a futile election cycle he made peace with his rival so that the two of them can figure out how to stay in power 18 months from now.
Mofaz listed the four major issues on the table right now and then, over and over, repeated and reiterated that election reform was job one! He went as far as to state that if that is all this coalition of 94 achieves in the next 18 months – it would still be worth it! He took no jobs; he asked for no positions; he didn’t even ask to get rid of Ehud Barak at this point. All he is looking for is a way to use the next 18 months to save his own political career via a new election system. Works for me said Bibi! Let’s give it a try!
Will they succeed? G-d only knows. But together they are much stronger than each of them on their own. Since no real issues separate the two, only political enmity and personal ego, they may find a key that works – or at least gives them both a better shot at keeping the rest of the pack at bay – on that agenda they can agree as well.
What leads me to this conclusion? Just listen to the man! He says so straight and honest and to the cameras. He explains this motivation in clear words that cannot be misinterpreted.
So why do the pundits and the media choose to ignore him? Because he pulled a fast one and did the unexpected – political pundits who make up much of our news cycle and information don’t like that. They don’t like surprises and they don’t like being woken up at 02:30 in the morning to be told that their headlines and their fancily concocted Op-Eds are no longer valid. It happened with the Netanyahu victory over Peres in 1996 and it happened again last night. The guys who were shown up in 1996 still use every waking moment to try and punish him for that.
Professor Amnon Rubinstein, former Minister of Education representing the fringe-left, anti-Zionist yet ultra-honest Meretz party, went to sleep early that night in 1996 and awoke to what he called “a nightmare.” Yet, honest man that he is, he is the only Israeli pundit to tell the people the truth this morning. In a guest blog post on the Hebrew Walla site Rubinstein calls the coalition “shaky” and “short-lived” – this blogger agrees on both counts. He also points out that the one bright and shiny spot in this agreement is the off-chance that they will in fact focus on what Mofaz said they will focus – election reform.
Also interesting to note who stopped the presses and who didn’t. Center-left leaning Yediot Achronot and center right-leaning Israel HaYom stopped the presses, trashed the old paper and produced a new one. Left-leaning Ma’ariv and the hard-left agenda setter Ha’aretz both chose to stick to the “Supreme Court evicts Jews” headline. On which side of the political fallout do each of these papers fall? Who stands to gain? Who stands to lose?
“All politics are local,” said the great US speaker Tip O’Neill. In Israel, since even G-d is a local call, all politics are actually party politics and all party politics boil down to personal politics
Watch this pair closely my friends. Some of us are not going to like what we see.
About the Author: IDF Lt. Col. (Res.) Mike Cohen, PhD is the editor of “Zionism, Post-Zionism & The Arab Problem” (Hebrew: 2011 Gefen Publishers, Jerusalem; English: 2012 Professors for A Safe Israel & Westbow Press) and the first “Traveling Scholar” appointed by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin for his Center for Jewish & Christian Understanding & Cooperation, a member of the Ohr Torah Stone Educational System in Efrat, Israel. His website is: drmikecohen.info