In exactly 16 days, the Israeli public will go to the polls to vote again, for the leader of the country. They will vote for a party, but for many, their vote will be cast against and not for. The JUST NOT BIBI slogan has taken over the country by almost all parties running in the election besides Likud and the natural partners for a Likud led coalition.
It seems that a great many Israelis have had it up to here, with Bibi. Over the past few years, the media has bombarded the Israeli public with the complicated and intricate legal details of an investigation for corruption which has dragged on and on into a boring infinity. And whether one understands all those details or not, the general feeling is, “Get this guy out, he’s getting on my nerves.” Not only has Bibi been tried, judged and hung already, by the media, his wife has also been dragged through the mud on a series of charges, some of which she has been fined for. Then to add salt to the wounds, Bibi’s son Yair, has a habit of taking to the social media and giving us his ‘musar’ as well. Bibi has tried endlessly, to explain himself, to tout his accomplishments and wave before us his great world connections, but it seems that all his achievements have been forgotten, in the face of the “Just not Bibi” banners..
All this begs the question, “What is it we are looking for in a prime minister?”
It seems to me that most people don’t ask themselves this question, but rather, vote according to their gut feelings related to whether or not the man or woman heading the party is someone they would like to sit down and feel comfy having a cup of coffee with. Is she or he charismatic? Is she or he nice looking? Is she or he a nice guy? And as of late, is he or she just NOT BIBI?
My feeling is that in Israel, we simply can’t afford to make our choices based on such trivialities. We need to grasp the importance of this event and hurry up and do so in less than three weeks! Israel is surrounded by well armed, violent enemies dedicated to our destruction. Despite the military successes we have had, and there have been many, the existential danger facing our country still exists. As a matter of fact, it has gotten more severe, because the face of the animal we are up against has gone high tech and is going nuclear. Thanks to the Almighty we have kept up, and our men, both in and out of uniform, are doing a fabulous job. But their job is getting harder and harder by the minute and we cannot afford to become complacent and overly confident.
Experience is still the most important quality to look for, in a candidate who is going to lead this country. The leader of our nation is going to need enough experience to know when it is the right time, place and with exactly the right amount of strength to hit our enemies. He will need to know from his experience, what the reaction of our allies will be and how our country will be able to handle the consequences. He will need to be able to balance his own instincts and the calculations made by his advisers. He will need to know exactly which advisers to choose, not necessarily those who will tell him what he wants to hear but those who have the qualifications and skills in their fields to give him an accurate assessment. And most importantly, he will need to be able to see the bird’s eye view of our country’s security and envision the country’s future from a world economic stand point. He will need to be one who has acquired the ability to view our existence in the larger framework of its historical context. That isn’t your average Joe Shmo nice guy!
There’s a certain kind of wisdom, which I believe is something that one is born with. It’s not the wisdom one gets from long life experience, but rather the kind that exists in certain people, which make them leaders. That shouldn’t be confused with knowledge, which is something we acquire through hard work, learning and listening to those more knowledgeable than ourselves. The type of wisdom and leadership skills needed to make a world leader, are not the kind of thing we see often and thus it is harder for us to recognize. Often, it is only after the fact and not during the crisis. Churchill was one of those leaders who had the ability to listen to the voice within him that said, ‘Even if we lose this battle against Hitler, it is the RIGHT thing to do and our nation needs to take it on with the conviction that we cannot lose. And so we won’t lose.’ His countrymen lacked the ability to recognize his wisdom even after the war ended and Hitler was defeated. Even then, after having saved the world, Churchill was voted out of office which proved that the majority of his people lacked the ability to see what was right in front of them, a true world leader. Maybe he wasn’t charismatic enough. Maybe he lacked the right look. Maybe he was grumpy and they couldn’t see sitting down to tea with him.
Benjamin Netanyahu is a true world leader. That is not to say that he doesn’t get on our nerves with his ultra confident speeches. That is not to say that he never makes mistakes, and that he too plays the political games, especially before elections. He is ultimately a human being, not a god, but he is a true leader who is able to see beyond the impulsiveness of some. He is able to discern between what feels good to do and what is necessary to do. He is able to understand the interests and needs of other countries, our enemies and our allies alike. He sees their shortcomings and their strengths and assesses carefully how to handle them. He truly realizes the weight of the responsibility he holds. I’m not sure that can be said for many of our politicians today.
So before getting into that booth and picking up a mere slip of paper to place in an envelope, ask yourselves in whose hands you wish to put the lives of our sons and daughters on the borders of our nation? Who will make his decisions based on their experience and is that experience long and deep enough to trust? And which one of those up for election to become Prime Minister of the State of Israel, possesses that inborn wisdom to make those critical decisions? May we all stiffen up our spines and straighten up our backs before this very important election, and take it seriously, as we are on the verge of some very critical moments in our history. All in all, we trust in the Almighty to protect us and guide our leaders, but we too, have a responsibility to realize the importance of our choices. Am Israel Chai!