The Israeli elections are just days away and my intention, not to write about them, is once again dashed to smithereens. It is my firm belief that most voters do not change their minds this late in the campaign. One would not expect that of anyone who has strong convictions.
Election day cannot come soon enough for me. It is so tiring hearing election promises that cannot be fulfilled for a myriad of reasons.
It is quite probable that the bulk of the public which I would love to reach, doesn’t read my articles. Most politically involved citizens select writers who are close to their own ideology. That having been said, recent statements by both Yair Lapid and General Ganz of the Blue + White party, have been so “revealing”- that it is hard to walk away from them.
Today’s newspaper headline reads “Lapid to Post; World leaders want Netanyahu to go.” He is absolutely right! The very same leaders who fought Netanyahu’s warnings of Iran’s intention to gain nuclear weapons want him to go. The identical list of leaders – which unanimously voted last week – that they did not accept America’s recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory – want him to go. The same heads of state whose representatives vote against Israel daily in the United Nations, want him to go. They need Netanyahu and others in Israel with a similar ideology to lose power. Those heads of state are quite content to see a weakened Israel. They erroneously imagine that such an Israel will make life-threatening “compromises” for peace. With their inverted logic, they believe their anti-Israel stand will endear their Muslim voters to their own election campaigns. If Israeli voters select any candidate in the upcoming election because they think they will win the affection of the European Union, (or the United Nations) – they are foolish indeed.
The head of the Blue-White party, General Ganz, has continued to shock voters. Not with the brilliance of his understanding of Israel’s needs and goals, but with his immature rantings. Essentially he promises that he will bomb our enemies when they get out of line. Not surprising for a General, I suppose. But Israel does that already, when and if necessary. His claims that he will keep Iran out of Syria no matter the cost, makes one wonder if he is at all aware of Iran’s continuing proxy relationship with Syria. How will he stop that which has already occurred?
His vow that he will personally stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons by bombing them is all very interesting, but perhaps that is not the solution to absolutely everything? Is he not aware that the nuclear facilities in Iran are in many different , deeply hidden underground locations? Does he presume that the Israeli public is unaware of this? Are there other solutions which he has to offer to this massively worrying possibility?
Ganz’s assurances that the Western Wall is long enough for everyone to pray there… is simply a way to distance himself from the religious parties which hold sway on that discussion. This is the one promise on which he could possibly deliver – should he be elected to form the ruling coalition. He has already alienated the religious parties and any government he might form could not be victim to their demands as they will not be present. This is probably the strongest identity and promise in their entire platform- one which appeals to many Israelis indeed. The Ganz coalition would not be “obligated’”to the Ultra Orthodox parties, but well may be trading that compromise for an indebtedness to Arab parties. Unfortunately they exist – not to represent the needs of their own people – but to try to bring down the Jewish State. That is not a particularly appealing trade-off. Some “experts” say that Ganz’s appeal is that he is “quintessentially” Israeli: rough around the edges, but devoted to his country. He is a product of the military establishment in which most Israelis have served . Israelis rightly have tremendous respect their military commanders on the battlefield. This is a huge emotional tie which gives Ganz and his list unwarranted polling numbers. He reminds many of Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, Ariel Sharon…and other old-time leaders. This connection has absolutely nothing to do with his ability to deal with the world as it is today. It does not imply that this General understands the needs of the Israeli public or will be able to lead through democratic processes within the Knesset. Being a General is a monolithic power base. For those who complain that Netanyahu does not work well with others, the idea that they would replace him with a General is ludicrous. Generals give orders and need to understand the tactics of winning physical battles over our enemies. This skill has very little to do with the successful running of a nation, overseeing its financial development, social needs and infrastructure. It certainly has nothing to do with developing relations with International partners.
Ganz has been running his campaign as if the nation was still in its infancy. The insults he hurls with no basis serve his purpose. With the assault on Netanyahu on so many fronts, much of the public has decided the Prime Minister is guilty of all accusations with no trial whatsoever. Facts be damned. Time and time again, one hears “If there is smoke…there must be fire.” Well, that was the goal of his detractors, and many are buying it “wholesale.“ The similar assault on President Trump which should have ended with the Mueller investigations revealing no “misdeeds” on the part of the President, is a parallel political experience. That fishing expedition revealed much, but not what it was actually intended to discover. Those who want to believe ill of their political leaders – will. No one seems to require evidence. Repeat the accusations frequently enough, and eventually they become accepted facts on the ground.
There is a real angst on the Israeli streets. It is hardly surprising. Taxi drivers try to vent their frustrations, and my response is simply: “this ride is too short to solve the problems of the nation!” I will not be drawn in, as there is no point to it. Those who are angry will remain angry. Those who have already concluded that their prime minister is corrupt, will not have their minds changed in the next ten days much less during a 25-shekel taxi ride.
All of that having been said, this election requires one to decide which party can actually lead the State of Israel in a continuing positive direction and with relentless security. Even Ganz claims that there is no one to negotiate with on the Palestinian issue, so if he feels that way- what is he offering the Israeli State which is worth “switching teams”?
Ultimately the election seems to boil down to pro-Bibi vs anti-Bibi. That is a shame because there is so much more than mud-slinging which is needed in the conversation. Do go out to the polls to vote. This is the very essence of the Democracy which Israelis are prepared to defend with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Whatever the leadership choice of the Israeli people, “Am Yisrael Chai…” The people of Israel not only live….but will indeed continue to flourish.