Let’s hope I’m wrong
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was mightily popular when he didn’t run for reelection. He often biked to work, tackled a terrorist, broke up a street fight, and took a monthly salary of only 1 shekel. But he left local politics because he wanted to take over the Likud when Bibi Netanyahu would leave. He would wait in the wings for years, neither a rebel nor a loyalist.
Presently the Economy Minister, whenever and whatever the fights within the Likud or around Netanyahu, you wouldn’t hear him. He wouldn’t take sides, he didn’t condemn or praise. He patiently waited his turn, it seemed.
But now, he lost it. The self-made millionaire (hi-tech) detected danger to life (of the soldiers in Gaza) and raised the alarm. And when his colleagues in the cabinet disagreed, reportedly, he leaked the discussion.
Now, a threat to life breaks even Shabbat rules. It’s of utmost importance. You can’t stand by idly. Yet, there is another rule. If everyone disagrees, you go by the majority. You can’t say when you couldn’t convince your colleagues you’re the only one with brains, intuition, or awareness.
What you can do is discuss it with them again. You may say you feel you didn’t express yourself well enough or were misunderstood. Or you can say: They are beyond reason, so I’m joining the opposition. What you can’t do is attack the majority and say everyone should follow you anyway.
Is there still hope for his national leadership? Yes. By saying sorry. Not only a hard thing to do but also often misunderstood as an admission of not being OK. But I think it’s his only hope. To make clear that he will follow the majority and is sorry that he broke the national consensus.
There are two ways his colleagues and Netanyahu may react. They could say: Now came out his true color. He’s a dictator. Or, they could conclude: He made an honest mistake, but it was out of character. Look at all his years of calm and loyalty to the party. If his remorse stands, he may stay.
Let’s hope he doesn’t just double down on his mistake. He has enough rational alternatives that I mentioned above. To try to convince them a second time. If he can’t convince them, join the opposition or say he’s sorry and shut up. And smile a bit more to his colleagues for some time.
Unfortunately, most bigwigs appear unable to change course. A big loss. Here too. Barkat seems to continue his outburst. It doesn’t bode well.