In recent weeks, Naftali Bennett and his Yamina party have re-emerged as the foremost alternative to Bibi Netanyahu’s premiership under the tagline Im Bennett ze Efshar, “With Bennett it is Possible.” As the name of his party would suggest, translating to “rightward,” Bennett is not running against the Netanyahu legacy but as its fulfillment, its next level, it’s necessary next step, to continue down its path where Bibi himself cannot follow.
It is indisputable, in Binyamin Netanyahu’s twelve consecutive years as Israel’s premier, he has achieved a great many things. Under Bibi, Israel’s raging holes in national security were plugged with greater anti-terror measures and newfound friendships with Arab neighbors. Under Bibi, the economic tumult and uncertainty that followed the 2008 US housing crisis and persisted through the 2011 social justice protests have been stabilized with a steadily growing economy.
Take the following question; do you believe that Israel will exist for your children’s children? The vast majority of Israelis today would easily answer yes, without a doubt. Many forget that this confidence, racked with doubts about economic stability and national security, simply did not exist in 2008. That alone speaks volumes.
With this great stabilization of Israel, there has grown an understanding of what is possible and what is not. We have seen terrorism reduced and friendship with Arab neighbors flourish, but under Bibi, there is an educated understanding that much of Israel will remain in its current legal grey-zone indefinitely and the terrorism that still persists, a significant issue for those living in the Gaza periphery and Judea and Samaria, will not subside. We have seen our previously fickle economy stabilize, but under Bibi, there is an educated understanding that its buoyant potential, and the potential to harness the economy to work for the people of Israel, will never be totally unleashed.
If this was a traditional election, with Bibi representing a united right bloc, facing the strongest party on the left bloc for the premiership, I would be remiss if I suggested backing anyone else. However, in this election, Bibi’s chief rival is not some ideological leftist dedicated to bending Israel into his or her ideological vision. On the contrary, Yair Lapid has nearly no chance of securing the premiership, as both Gideon Sa’ar and Bennett have explicitly ruled out sitting under him, a promise that if broken, as showcased most recently by Benny Gantz and Amir Peretz, would equate to political suicide. Bibi’s chief rival is Naftali Bennett.
This is Bennett’s great pitch, what Bibi should do but cannot do, whether due to binding political allegiances, ideological obstinance, a lack of philosophical grounding, or a lack of political imagination and ambition, Bennett will do. 15% across-the-board tax cuts, the creation of an economy that truly works of the people of Israel, sovereignty over all of Israel, an uprooting of government corruption and judicial tyranny, a stronger deterrence against terror, an enduring, fully unapologetic defense of our national identity, all things Bennett will accomplish and execute, all things in which Bibi is relatively insufficient.
At this point and time, Naftali Bennett is not just a more ambitious leader than Bibi, but a more capable one. Bennett showcased his prudence, his good political judgment, during the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, and subsequently vindicated by every wrong step Bibi took in the wake of his dismissal. This is what is possible with Naftali Bennett, not just stability in the safe, quiet status quo, but stability in true, total success for all of Israel.