Dear Moshe Kahlon

Dear Mr. Kahlon,

You don’t know me, and I write this with the full knowledge that the likelihood of you reading this is about zero. Yet, I feel as if I won’t be able to live myself if I don’t try, even in obvious futility.

First, congratulations on your election to the Knesset as the leader of Kulanu. You ran an impressive and clean campaign. While the other parties resorted to slinging mud at each other to move a measly number of mandates within a bloc, you stuck to a serious socioeconomic campaign. You may have only won ten mandates, but those are ten mandates honestly earned.

I am among the countless diaspora Jews who were hoping to see the back of Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. His toxic rhetoric on election day only confirmed to us how damaging he has been to Israel’s reputation overseas. The exit polls initially gave me some hope that Isaac Herzog may have triumphed, as the polls last weekend predicted he might. However, I live in the real world, and in this world Ayman Odeh and Avigdor Lieberman don’t recommend the same candidate for Prime Minister. It was clear from the first exit poll, to all who wanted to see, that Netanyahu’s return was inevitable. My new hope became a unity government, with a rotation agreement between Netanyahu and Herzog.

Of course, we now know the entire story. Like in 1996, Netanyahu’s political acumen was once again underestimated and confused for desperation. There is no longer any possibility of a rotation with Likud five seats ahead.

This is where you come in, Mr. Kahlon. Netanyahu cannot form a coalition without you. He did not bet his entire career on an election just to form another coalition that rests on bamboo sticks. He wants you, he needs you, and he will not create a government without you.

While the King has been chosen, the composition of the royal court is still very much an open question. Will it be filled with likeminded serious people, such as your own party’s Gen. Yoav Galant and Michael Oren, or with jesters like Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel?

You, alone, can bring about a unity government with Zionist Union. You will find a willing ally in President Reuven Rivlin, a man whose wisdom and warmth I have come to appreciate more with each crass statement Netanyahu makes. In your heart, you know this is what is best for Israel. The challenges Israel faces simply cannot be confronted by an ideological government. The threat from Iran is not a neoconservative conspiracy; it’s far more real than many of my fellow liberals are willing to admit. Do you really a think government underpinned by Bennett and Ariel will garner any international support in deterring this menace? And do you really believe a man of Netanyahu’s character will be serious about solving the dire housing crisis? It’s been four years since the social protests of 2011. What has he done?

Moshe, you’ve said you are part of the Old Likud, the Likud that did not worship land over lives, and the Likud that cared about the poor and downtrodden. Prove it. Demand Netanyahu seek a moderate coalition with the Zionist Union.

Best regards,


About the Author
Abe Silberstein writes on Israeli politics, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and American foreign policy in the Middle East. He can be reached at