Gideon Israel
Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center

Bibi! It’s Game-time!

The story of a politician not sticking to his principles, or veering from what he believes to be right, is nothing new.  The politician enters politics with ideals, principles or policies that he wants to advance, and then the difficulties begin.  One realizes that in order to advance his policy and receive the support of some colleagues, he needs to support their policies.  Not a bad tradeoff.  But then the decisions gradually become more challenging.  It’s not only about supporting policies of like-minded colleagues,  rather it starts becoming supporting policies that one disagrees with, and then, if a person votes according to his conscience, it might hurt him politically.  The pitfalls and stumbling blocks in the way of a politician trying to advance are endless.  Certainly, the politician who makes it to the top of the pyramid doesn’t do so without sidestepping a few landmines on the way.

Oftentimes the politicians rationalizes to himself that sacrificing a thing or two on the way is worth it to reach a high enough position where one can really do great things.  In the area of public service, there are many people who really want to improve the lives of their citizens and genuinely think of the best way to accomplish that goal, but they caught up on the way; and by the time they get high enough, one doesn’t even recognize them.  In the upcoming elections, Netanyahu will almost be surely be reelected Prime Minister, but it seems like he doesn’t realize that he is at the top of the pyramid, has been there, and will be there for probably another four years, and that’s it.  Therefore I say to Bibi: Wake up! It’s game-time!

Netanyahu at heart is right wing, with certain ideals and things he knows to be right.  After a first premiership which didn’t work out so well, he left politics and made an impressive comeback.  He has reached the top of the pyramid, and of course sacrificed some principles on the way, and at times looked foolish.  But now he’s there – at the top.  With one successful candidacy, where he continued to sacrifice principles and implement policies that he rejects deep down, he is on his way to another candidacy and probably his last.  Thus I say to Bibi (though he is not listening):  It’s game-time!

Make a coalition with the parties in which you can implement the policies that you most seriously believe in.  Formulate a small [majority] coalition with your natural partners.  Stop trying to cater to the center-left so you can have a big coalition; your next step is retirement so do the big things while you have a chance.   Don’t be like those ex-politicians who try to implement their policies posthumously politically.  No one will remember you because you had a big coalition, people will remember & appreciate what you have done because you did what you really believed to be right, and you stuck to your values.

Make a coalition with your ex-buddy Naftali Bennett – and stop attacking him.  He doesn’t hate you personally, and if you hate him personally, you’ve been in politics long enough – so get over it.  Take one of the haredi parties or one on the center-left, throw them a few bones and get to work!  Only look forward, don’t make a left turn from the right lane – it will no doubt lead to an accident.  Appoint Boogie or Yair Shamir defense minister and let Ehud Barak work on his piano skills in retirement.  Stop being afraid of Europe – they have enough of their own problems and are on the decline.  Don’t worry about building in Jerusalem – the Chinese could care less, India will look the other way and the Republicans will pounce on Obama if he makes an issue of it.  So Bibi – It’s game-time!  This is what you have been waiting for: enough power to do good things.  And before you start your next candidacy – read that book you wrote thirty years ago, you might have forgotten the conclusions.

About the Author
Gideon Israel is the Director of the Jerusalem Washington Center which focuses on strengthening US-Israel relations through mutually beneficial policy projects.