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Could this time really be different?

With a stable of fresh Knesset members, and coalition talks going into high gear, change finally seems possible

The new Knesset is being sworn in today. Negotiations are ongoing to form a new government. There is still a sense here that all things are possible.  At the same time, the veteran political commentators keep warning us that it will all turn out like it has in the past. Now we are in the throes of coalition negotiations. When the negotiations end, we will have a government.

In the end, the only thing that will matter is who gets what job. Is Lapid really any different from those who came before him? Just offer him the right job, and ultimately he could cave, and then some wonderful, meaningless document will be signed about the new direction of the government. We have all been here before – going all the way back to 1977, when Dash ran on a platform of political change. They won enough votes to bring about change, but Yigael Yadin sold out to be deputy prime minister.

But what if this time it really is different? What if Lapid is for real? What if the 19 new Knesset members from Yesh Atid do not care if they become cabinet ministers? After all, not one of them has been a member of Knesset before. Is it possible that they truly care more about their principles? What if Naftali Bennet has been telling the truth about his concerns, as well as about the “shared burden” and Israel’s economy? The Jewish Home party is also full of people who have never been members of Knesset. For these newly minted parliamentarians, just joining the Knesset is a major step up.

What if he isn't bluffing? Yair Lapid plays the guitar at a party celebrating Yesh Atid's election success (photo credit: Flash90)
What if he isn’t bluffing? Yair Lapid plays the guitar at a party celebrating Yesh Atid’s election success (photo credit: Flash90)

This time, change really does seem possible. I remember hearing Tzipi Livni state during the campaign that the reason she gave the members of Kadima such freedom in the opposition was because of how disappointed they all were to not be in the government. Apparently, that was reason enough to let them run amok in the Knesset. Maybe today’s new Knesset members truly do not care what special positions they get. Is it possible, instead, that they believe their most valued position would be that of an agent of change? A close friend of mine always says that for most of the people in politics it’s about the “jobs for the boys.” What if it’s different this time? Have we finally turned in “the boys” for “a few good men” (and women)?

The weak links in the chain for change are the two small parties of the center– Hatnua and Kadima. Both of these parties are filled with people who think they deserve to be ministers (and that anything less may be beneath them). It will be relatively easy to make them offers they cannot turn down. They could weaken the negotiating powers of both Lapid and Bennett.

But now, for a moment, before the bets are all in, let’s imagine a world in which all of the new Knesset members sworn in today do not care about their own ”jobs,” but only about doing the best job they can. Imagine these leaders are bold, and honest, and only care about bringing about real change – upholding the will of the people and keeping their promises for the betterment of this country.

Imagine that this time our imagination will turn into a reality. Imagine that this time, even after the coalition is set, we will get the government we deserve. Imagine that this time, after so many years, we will see real change. Just imagine.

About the Author
Marc Schulman is the editor of Historycentral.com -- the largest history web site. He is the author a series of Multimedia History Apps as well as a recent biography of JFK. He holds a BA and MA from Columbia University, and currently lives in Tel Aviv. He is also a regular contributor to Newsweek authoring the Tel Aviv Diary. He is the publisher of an economic news App about Israel called DigitOne