Dear General Gantz, (Sorry, Twitter won’t do here)

Benny Gantz's Election Slogan in January 2019 "Israel Before All"

The recent election was a tremendous disappointment for the millions of us who had put our hopes in you to guide our great country into a new era. In one year, we advocated for you, argued for you and voted for you three times. In fact, some of us feel as if we did more for you than you had done for yourself, especially in this most recent round.

I am an American by birth, an Israeli by choice. A student of history and a marketing professional of 25 years. This is important for you to know as it provides you my frame of reference when it comes to what an election should be about. To be honest, sir, I have zero idea what this election was about other than stopping Prime Minister Netanyahu and in a country where the population is simply grateful for a new day, the messaging needs to be better than that.

Your slogan when you began this voyage was “Israel Before All” (“Israel First”), what does that mean to you? Donald Trump explained what he meant by America First, you failed to explain what you meant.  If you are going to borrow from someone who succeeds, you need to borrow the parts that were the reason for that success. Otherwise, you simply waste your money on advisors who are not promoting you, but rather giving you the tools used successfully by someone else.

Our electoral process has been compared internationally, by allies for that matter, as primitive, primal and third-world. What are the issues other than Bibi? If you cannot tell the public what YOU will do to improve their lives, you will not convince them to take a chance on you.  Yes, many of us are weary of a man who has done great things for Israel but is now trying to change our system of checks and balances to benefit his own personal legal challenges. However, in Israel where a minister going to jail is par-for-the-course and unimportant to the electorate, there needs to be a message that will grab their attention.

Israel has many problems; I know this because I heard you speak of them long ago. Of course, our primary concern must remain security as we are not loved as a nation by many of our neighbors. There is an entire citizenry, however that is dealing with other problems that is just as important and more real to them. Among them are rising cost of living standards; wages that are below average for an economy of our status; the pilfering of our natural resources by private industry with no tangible benefit to the citizens; a cabal that controls every consumer good that enters this country, creating several monopolies and preventing free-market trade; and an electoral system that was developed in haste that does not serve the democratic needs of the country.

These are only a few. We began our experiment 72 years ago when political alliances and philosophies were different. Israel WAS a socialist economy and thus, an infrastructure was built to serve that need. We have evolved since then as a country, we still have socialist values when it comes to healthcare and education, however the bureaucracy enveloping every aspect of life here is large, expensive, inefficient and well plainly-said, corrupted. Unions are important and yet, measures are needed to protect the citizenry and ensure their enormous tax contributions are not being wasted by old-world union mentalities that do not penalize poor job performance.

Is there a good reason why an automobile that costs the equivalent of $20,000 elsewhere is over $50,000 here?  Is there a reason why Holocaust survivors in Israel live at or near poverty levels while we give millions in public money to Yad Vashem each year to fund operations and a bloated hierarchy? Is there a reason why my sister can buy 200 grams of Tnuva butter in America for .99 cents but I cannot find it here in Israel at all and instead, pay the equivalent of $3.50 for imported butter? These are questions the Israeli public should be given answers to, and how you and your coalition will solve it.

We all know what is wrong with Bibi. This letter is not blaming him for this debacle, he plays dirty politics, he plays divisive politics, he plays identity politics, everyone in the country knows this and this election cycle was no different. He does it so well. He is a master politician. You cannot beat him playing that game, few if any could. He is the Bill Clinton of Israel, a flawed human, but can pack a room and have them hinge on every divisive, yet well spoken word.  The ONLY way to make the public see you as a viable alternative, is to share their daily struggles and grief and frustration, and tell them how you will address it.

There will be another election, and I truly hope that your coalition will stick around to participate in it and make the election about the issues, not the one who has done little to solve them during his long tenure.  Our system needs serious reformation, you know this sir, I heard you say this as well but there was never any follow-up from you on what that means. For nearly 72 years the Knesset has kicked the can down the road on so many vital issues necessary to the foundation of our nation, it is time to pick it up and deal with it. This is how you will make your mark and bring governance back to Israeli democracy.

Thank you for reading.

About the Author
Jay Engelmayer is a husband and father of four. Professionally his focus has been digital marketing and business development for commercial products. A proud and unapologetic American-Israeli Zionist, he enjoys cooking and yelling at television screens. Some consider him argumentative in nature, although he prefers the term "purposeful cynic" when describing his disposition. Living in Israel, he hails from New York City and is glad he left before it became the 1970's redux it is today.
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