Benny, there’s a way out!

There is no better a reality show than seeing a hero self-destruct. Such was the case with Benny Gantz who by his own hand, and with his friend Ashkenazi egging him on, he has by choice thrown himself into the trash-can of history.  The bizarre scene where he took on the role of Knesset Speaker, delivering a high and mighty speech of a novice, with zero credibility, the Likud members sitting in the Gallery trying to keep a straight face, will be remembered as one of the most embarrassing moments in Knesset history.

No doubt back at the Netanyahu residence, the pink champagne flowed, and cigar smoke filled the room in a celebration of ecstatic joy. Just days before, they were desperately trying to catch two small fry from the Blue and White camp to weaken a shoal of Great Whites heading straight for them. And what happens? They bag the leading shark, who by choice has decided he wants to be a shrimp in his next life and destroy the entire shoal in one foul swoop. And for those who like a good reality show – keep watching. It’s going to be a slow, morbid bloody death. The shrimp will be gobbled up after being kept barely alive for months in the Netanyahu aquarium.

Generals have a bleak history in Israeli politics with a few exceptions. We saw the great Moshe Dayan, getting a panic attack live on TV during the Yom Kippur war, after defiantly driving prime minister Golda Meir to ignore every warning and danger sign. We had to endure the great “Ghandi” defiantly ignore security warnings for personal protection only to get assassinated by a bunch of amateurs. We saw Yigal Yadin come to nothing, Itzik Morderchay, and even the highly respected and loved Amnon Lipkin Shahak get chewed up in the world of politics. Arik Sharon made a comeback only to create one of the worst moments in history by withdrawing from Gaza without a negotiated agreement. Barak? No comment. The second intifada speaks for itself. And then we have Mofaz. He won the leadership struggle for the powerful Kadima party, based as a true alternative to the far-right settler propagated Netanyahu leadership only to commit political hara-kiri by crawling into the Netanyahu led coalition. We know how that ended: Kadima was destroyed and torn apart by its own leader’s bad choice. Mofaz is history, kicked out by Netanyahu the moment his party fell apart – perfectly according to Bibi’s plan. And with that shocking precedent, Gantz willingly goes down the same road? He has created one of the greatest acts of political self-destruct with all the warning signs and red lights flashing madly in front of him.

The problem in almost all these cases can be fairly easily identified: extremely weak negotiating skills. These senior officers come out of 40 years of army service where rank determines decision making, and a highly sophisticated process of logic, thought, assimilation of information, assessment of assets and more, determine well informed and accurately processed decisions. Politics is different – very different. One needs to make decisions not only on hard-core intelligence but on political needs and pressures. That is why we have a guy in a funny hat telling us the Messiah will come in April in the midst of a health crisis, who fills the role of leader of health in Israel today. And you need to find the way to work within those constraints.

Benny Gantz no doubt honestly believes that the best thing to do at this time is to be a part of a “unity government”. But what he doesn’t understand is that this is not a unity government, and that by destroying his own political base which he built with willpower, and endurance, and a great deal of sacrifice, he has no base, no constituency – and thus  no leverage. What he doesn’t understand is that Netanyahu, in effect, manipulated this, that his friend and advisor Asheknazi, unlike other generals is a star manipulator – refer to the Harpaz affair for a clear character assessment of who we are dealing with here.

Benny, listen up soldier:  Ashkenazi is not your friend, Netanyahu will not stand by any promises, you have no political base, and you are transmuting from shark to shrimp as we speak. But there is a way back. You use this very brief time for tying up negotiations with Likud, to make an about-turn. Walk away while you still can. Never mind credibility. None of these politicians has credibility. You march straight back to Blue and White, you take the mandate you received from the president to form a government, and you re-negotiate. In this scenario, in front of Netanyahu you are once again a Grey-White. And if there is an election, you make sure and prepare the ground that it is his fault, not yours.

About the Author
Originally from South Africa, Jonathan made aliya in the seventies, and lived and worked on a kibbutz for several years. He has a graduate degree in business from Boston University and is a managing partner of an Israeli based business. He was a co-founder of the Forum Tzora peace action group and participates in the Geneva Initiative workshops. He is the author of the book “Valley of Heaven and Earth”.
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