On Wednesday night, two very important statements were made with regards to the upcoming Israeli elections.
The first was given by Naftali Bennett, who unsurprisingly confirmed his intention to replace Bibi Netanyahu as Prime Minister. While this announcement was expected, it was a big moment for Bennett and his supporters. For those who haven’t been following along, this is the first time that Bennett has actually come forward and challenged Bibi. In the past, Bennett has always endorsed Bibi for Prime Minister, even during his own campaigns. He also made it very clear that though he is running with the intention of replacing Bibi, he is not just an “anyone but Bibi” candidate – unlike many of his other opposers. Bennett and Yamina have a clear platform and ideology that have nothing to do with any other party leader. In the last year, Bennett has really stepped up to the plate and proven himself to be a man of planning and action, even from the opposition, in a way that many other ministers have not. He has made it clear that should he be given the mandate to form a government, it will be without personal agenda but rather with the sole focus of fixing the mess that we are in economically, socially and medically. In my opinion, he came off really well and as of now, I would be proud to cast my vote for him again.
The second, and far more shocking and even important statement was given by Zev Elkin. For those who haven’t been paying attention to the news, Elkin, has left the Likud and joined Gideon Saar’s new party – New Hope. Now some may ask why was this was such a huge moment. After all, we’ve seen a bunch of Likudniks defect and join Saar in the last two weeks. The difference here is in the man himself. Unlike the other new members of Saar’s party – lesser known, younger names in Likud and the government – who have been very clear about their dislike for Bibi Netanyahu, Zev Elkin is a very well known, high ranking member of the Likud and Bibi’s inner circle. Elkin’s speech was extremely powerful and emotional. This is a man who was clearly pushed to the limit of what he could stand by and watch. Unlike the rest of New Hope, Elkin did not get angry or heated. He did not use standby slogans. He did not stand there condemning Bibi for his alleged crimes or anything else. In fact, he gave Bibi credit for all the truly incredible things that he has done for Israel. That’s what made his speech so effective. It was an honest account of everything that has gone wrong in this government in the last 2 years and a condemnation of the personal agendas and ego trips that got us here. I urge anyone who has not yet seen his statement to do so.
The statements were made one after the other and yet they were as different as they could possibly be. Elkin made what can only be seen as the most powerful and intriguing argument thus far against Bibi. It should be very hard for anyone to ignore the words of a man who, unlike most of his new party colleagues, was actually in a position to see what was really happening behind the scenes for a long time. Those who are asking, why shouldn’t I just vote for Bibi again?, will certainly have what to think about after hearing what Elkin has to say. It was a dramatic moment and one that will likely have huge consequences. At the end of the day though, Elkin’s statement still amounts to one thing. New Hope thus far, is no more than another “anti-Bibi” party. The only real difference is that it’s an attack coming from the right. With all of the speeches that have been made and members who have joined, the only real message that is coming through so far is that New Hope is a return to Likud without Bibi and his loyalists.
Having that option to vote for is not necessarily a bad thing. But it can’t be the only thing a party has to run on. No party can survive on being for or against one man. There need to be lasting ideas and values that people can believe in. Right now, Bennett and Yamina have that. They have an ideology and a plan. They have clearly stated that they are committed to creating a government that will work together for Israel and its citizens – with or without Bibi – without personal agendas or vendettas. That is the kind of vision that this country needs right now. We’ve been stuck in a cycle of power grabs and ego trips for almost 2 years now. It would be foolish to blame that on one person. It would be equally as foolish to continue electing the same people who landed us in the mess that we’re in now. The only way out is to break the cycle.