In poker, keeping your cards close to your chest leaves the others wondering what cards you’re holding. Three months before fateful elections, contender Benny Gantz, former Chief of Staff, is playing a cool hand, poker face and all. His silence invites us all to project onto him whatever fantasy we choose. I choose this: Gantz knows that Israel is locked into an endless cycle of useless aggression. He led aggression, in 2014, to the tune of more than 2,100 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel. Along with the rest of us, he has witnessed the ensuing four years’ demonstration of the utter uselessness of repeated Gaza wars.
Gantz viewed the premiere of the new documentary about Ben Gurion, sitting a few rows before me. I saw, or projected, pain in his face as we rose from our seats, Ben Gurion’s authentic leadership still ringing in our hearts. Gantz knows that our country is aching for leadership, and he imagines that he might just be the man to rise to the present challenge. To be better than he was as a soldier, to be the mensch who will lead us into what lately seems a nearly impossible future. He knows that it is not a foregone conclusion that Likud will win these elections. But he also knows that it will be a very delicate process to navigate through to building a coalition of disparate people and parties. He wonders, WE wonder, whether he is up to this historic moment. If we will it, it is not a dream. It is a royal flush.
Yoav Peck is co-director of the Sulha Peace Project, bringing Palestinians and Israelis together for people-to-people solidarity