Israeli electorate’s obsession with generalsa

The latest poll puts the Gantz group ahead of Likud. Personally, having been a Diaspora centre/center left voter all my life I really do not much care for right-wing Netanyahu and his allies save on what I consider to be three key points: Netanyahu’s successful management of the Israeli economy; his handling of Israel’s security and his outstanding international diplomatic skills, successes and the respect he commands.

The thing that astounds me is the electorate’s support for the Gantz group. As I look back, to the best of my memory, all the former generals turned out to be political disasters for the country.

Rabin, who commanded the IDF to victory in 1967, negotiated and signed the Oslo accords.

Sharon, a first rate successful general who saved Israel’s back in the surprise 1973 war, pulled the settlers out of Gaza and failed to take the kind of security measures necessary to avoid the possibility of adding another war front.

Barak, IDF’s most decorated officer, had a disastrous short tenure as Prime Minister, and having learned nothing from the Oslo fiasco went out of his way to offer the Palestinian Authority a set of egregiously generous peace terms pregnant with disastrous consequences. And during the periods leading to the 2019 elections, if not before, he sounds like he has gone over the wall.

Now, to be fair, Rabin and Sharon had some valid short term reasons for doing what they did. Rabin, among other reasons, wanted to unburden the Israeli economy and the IDF of the excessively heavy economic burden of policing and administering all of the territories west of the Jordan River conquered in 1967.

Likewise, Sharon, among other reasons, thought the Gaza settlements were both a military and a political burden which had to be addressed .He also wanted to show to the world that Israel was a reasonable country prepared to let the Palestinian Authority govern its own people in the peninsula.

On the other hand, Barak’s premiership and peace initiative, were both off-the wall.

I don’t think I am saying much that is new to the Israeli electorate and some would undoubtedly disagree with my interpretation of the past.

The twin questions  then facing the electorate are:

First, what are the chances  of three former generals  performing better at the helm of the country than did their three predecessors, and

Second, whether  these three generals are an improvement over or just as good as Netanyahu  to  do the job.

I submit without any reservations or qualifications that, based on the available evidence both questions must be answered in the negative.

As a matter of fact, with three former generals running the show, the lead one being in the habit of contradicting or reversing himself on an ongoing basis, my fear is that their respective errors will compound with the end-result being worse than the mere sum of the three sets of errors.

It is quite presumptuous of me to lecture the Israeli Jewish electorate on how and who to vote for.

Instead, I want to share a most valuable lesson I learned: If you are of the mind to get rid of Netanyahu at any price, please make sure that,you are not simply voting against him, andin the process, letting the three generals get hold of power, by default.

Forget about Netanyahu for a moment and focus on those seeking to replace him and  make sure  that you really want to vote for the three generals because you are reasonably sure that they have the right stuff of what it takes to govern Israel.

After all, the object of general elections is not to decide whether to boot out or retain the present government, but whether the prospective winners are the right people to be entrusted with the reins of political power.

As a longstanding voter in federal and provincial elections in Canada, I submit that voting in order to boot out the current government is an emotionally, reactive and dangerous way to vote.

In my experience, much more often than not, this way of voting leads to regret the outcome as the new government turns out to be as bad, if in fact, not worse than the one that has been ousted. The successor makes you wish his predecessor was still there. By then, regrettably it is too late. Israel, facing very tough challenges which require timely and above all appropriate and wise responses, its electorate surely cannot afford, never mind the luxury, the risk of being “too late.”

I wish the Israeli Jewish electorate, my people, and success in the outcome of the election.

*Prior to his retirement, Dogan Akman practiced law in Canada’s Federal Department of Justice for 24 years first as a Crown prosecutor then specialising in the litigation of aboriginal issues.

About the Author
Doğan Akman was born and schooled in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon his graduation from Lycee St. Michel, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In Canada, he taught university in sociology-criminology and social welfare policy and published some articles in criminology journals After a stint as a Judge of the Provincial Court (criminal and family divisions) of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, he joined the Federal Department of Justice working first as a Crown prosecutor, and then switching to civil litigation and specialising in aboriginal law. Since his retirement he has published articles in Sephardic Horizons and e-Sefarad and in an anthology edited by Rifat Bali titled This is My New Homeland and published in Istanbul.
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