Israel’s grave political choice

Israel’s damaged and degraded political class face a fateful choice of four possible paths, as the nation’s divisions continue to re-emerge amidst the ongoing war effort and the increasing strain it is placing on the country:

  1. The coalition will struggle on, refuse to take responsibility for the ongoing national catastrophe, and resist calls for a new election. This may come as a surprise to those living in the Tel Aviv bubble or outside Israel, but this is where the country is almost certainly heading today. Make no mistake, outside of Tel Aviv and its suburbs, PM Netanyahu’s popularity is high and rising quickly. For all the disasters that have befallen Israel in recent times, and for all the responsibility that should sit on his shoulders, Netanyahu is seen as Israel’s great defender against a ‘bad’ two-state peace. Only a man with truly herculean levels of stubbornness, only a man with machiavellian levels of cunning could have enabled Israel to resist the otherwise overwhelming international pressure for so long, and to continue so doing in the future. When push comes to shove, many Israelis wouldn’t trust any other leader on this existential question.
  2. The opposition is calling for new elections (or alternatively, one of the coalition partners will finally do what they have long promised, and leave the coalition). This will probably lead to the most divisive election campaign in Israel’s history, G-d forbid, a campaign that channels all the trauma, bitterness and blame games around October 7th and its ongoing aftermath.
  3. Some members of the current coalition may defect to join forces with the opposition to create a new coalition – given who these members are likely to be, this will be like putting a sticking plaster on an infected wound.
  4. A genuine national unity government emerges without new elections at this difficult and divisive time.

Israel’s political leaders repeatedly recite the mantra of ‘beyachad nenatzeach’ (together to victory). And yet despite this, through their words and actions, they make it clear, ‘beyachad’ (together) means ‘on my terms only’.

I believe most Israelis have concluded, therefore, unity is actually not possible right now despite the slogans. The result – Israelis are again doubling down on their sectional leadership. This is bringing a return to the politics that whoever speaks the loudest, the dirtiest, the most dogmatic, wins the day.

This is the politics of pathways one to three. In each of these pathways, Israel will, G-d forbid, be condemned to shallow and self-absorbed divisiveness. There is no good leadership option along these pathways

By contrast, the fourth path is the path of reconciliation and healing, the path of true ‘otzma yehudit’ (Jewish power) in the face of powerful and genocidal enemies. It is the logical choice.

But who is there to lead a government that can truly unite? Who is the person that can heal the infected wound?

It is a leader who can look at the major issues and divisions facing Israel today – war and peace, religion and secularity, Jew and Arab, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi, torah study and the army, settlement and cohesion – and see them as positive sum not zero sum questions.

It is a leader who has the empathy, wisdom and creativity to facilitate outcomes through which each side can win; outcomes that represent the best of both worlds; outcomes that give all Israelis a stake in the future.

Ready in plain sight, there is among our otherwise shoddy and degraded political leadership a diamond who has this capacity, who is worthy of leading the Jewish people, and the Israeli nation, G-d willing.

A ‘ben-Torah’ and a chakham-lev.

A student of the yeshivah and a warrior of the army.

Someone to restore the glory of the East while commanding the respect of the West.

Like Abraham Avinu, he is someone who says little and delivers much.

Like Moshe Rabbeinu, he is truly humble and has shown his care for every soul.

Like both, he does not fear speaking truth to power – he can shatter today’s ‘tablets’, with their artificial and idolatrous division into so-called ‘left’ and so-called ‘right’.

Examine his deeds and his utterances, you will not see a hint of contempt or bad speech (lashon hara).

Through him, Israel is not doomed to isolation, to negativity, to anger, to division. Nor, through him, is Israel condemned to weakness before its enemies, real and imagined.

Strength, for Israel, comes from authentic unifying Jewish leadership, channeling the values of both tablets – the so-called ‘left’ and the so-called ‘right’ –  as a single unified whole.

About the Author
Adam Gross is a strategist that specialises in solving complex problems in the international arena. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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