Politician – is a dirty word, except in Israel

As the world goes in a new direction of electing “non-political” leaders such as Trump in the United States and Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine, Israel remains the same. Will there be a change in the next premature elections?

One can see that as trends repeat themselves, so does history. In 1940, Sir Winston Churchill who was not a politician before, became Britain`s prime minister after he had a military, journalistic and history career. Today, we are witnessing a repeated phenomenon in which “non- political” players are being chosen such as Donald Trump who was engaged in a business and television career and Volodymyr Zelensky, who is an actor, comedian and director.

While the world`s choice of leaders is changing from political players who spent their whole career in government ministries to those who are coming from different fields such as television and business, Israel remains the same.

In the last elections held in Israel, despite Netanyahu`s numerous rivals, such as Benny Gantz, a previous military general, Yair Lapid, a previous news anchor and Naftali Bennett, a previous Hi-Tech entrepreneur, Benjamin Netanyahu who is an experienced politician got elected for the fourth continuous term. Moreover, the voices heard regarding those “non- political” candidates were: “He stammers in interviews”, “He has no experience as a politician” which in addition to the elections results indicate that most Israelis believe that to be prime minister, you need political experience and know how to “play the game”, like Netanyahu.

Israel`s history also repeats itself, although in a different way than the world`s, which is familiarization with the current reality. As in the past, David Ben Gurion- Israel`s first Prime Minister served as leader for 13 years and today, Benjamin Netanyahu is almost comparing his term of service. Israel remains with the same attitude as time goes by. Israel stays in its comfort zone.

However, Israel is also facing now a new phase when untimely- elections are being held after Netanyahu did not succeed in forming a government. Israel can now connect to the worldwide phenomena and choose an “external- politician” leader, a leader who does not necessarily know the “rules of the political game”.

So, why choose an “external- politician”? an external and new perspective from a different background, can lead to a positive change. It is customary to say in Israel that “a momentary visitor sees every injury”. If Israel wants changes in everyday life, it will have to be preceded by an initial one. In addition, politics is everywhere. It can be said that we are all politicians. After all, what is politics? Politics is human activity, which exists in every field. Whether it is politics within the family, the military world, the business world, it is everywhere. Therefore, all candidates who do not come from the political world also know, how to play politics.

However, a change could be seen as a risk in a complicated country such as Israel. Israel faces many risks, and security is a vital and central interest that is very present in the Israeli public opinion, who is unwilling to compromise on this issue. A different leader can lead to different policy, and uncertainty can be frightening. There is a feeling in Israel that it is best to play it safe and choose a candidate who knows both the rules of the game and the players.

Even though the scenario seemed unlikely, two months after the last elections Israel has a second round. As it is possible to choose in the upcoming elections a leader who did not come from the government offices, it will not be easy. The candidates have a second chance and they must learn their lessons quickly and know how to use the next election campaign to show the Israeli`s that they are worthy and that even though they may be less experienced, they can lead the country.

Politician is a dirty word in the world, and in Israel?

About the Author
Shir Beeri is a third- year student for Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya and a fellow at the Argov Program for Leadership and Diplomacy. In addition, Shir is the Director of Community Relations at "Big Brother" Organization for Lone Soldiers. Shir served in the IDF armored corps as an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier) training officer. At IDC, she participated in the European studies program and volunteered on the content team of MICS (Media in Conflicts Seminar), advancing to serve as the head of MICS 2018.
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