The Choice Israel Will Need to Make

This week (finally) saw the end of the most embarrassing government Israel has ever had. With it, one of the major coalition partners, the Blue-White party will go to its well-deserved demise. Already seven months ago, when the coalition agreement was signed, speculations were rife if Netanyahu would keep any or all of his promises made in the agreement, in particular the Rotation Agreement, whereby Blue-White leader Benny Gantz would become Prime Minister in November 2021. Netanyahu, already known by friend and foe to be a pathological liar and a politician for whom agreements are fine as long as they serve him, should never have been trusted by Gantz, in particular in a period where Netanyahu is standing trial on corruption charges and he will do anything to disrupt, postpone or cancel the commencement and the continuation of this trial. But Gantz is a classic example of one of the major problems Israeli politics face: the abundance of ex-military who believe that they should have a go at politics. These soldiers, who, as far as anyone will be able to judge, were competent generals, fighter pilots and intelligence personnel, simply do not realize that politics is not the Army, and neither does the Israeli public who again and again falls in love with a general when he sheds his fatigues and decides to run for the Knesset. Gantz, who was Israel Army Chief of Staff, simply was no match for the political fox (or hyena?) Netanyahu, and the past seven months have shown that Netanyahu will have such political novices for breakfast and not even have a stomachache afterwards.

There is no need to go back to all the chicanery Netanyahu used to make the life of Gantz miserable, but it is important to realize that Netanyahu did the things he did only (very) partially to vex Gantz. Most if not all of Netanyahu’s actions, were taken because they would benefit Netanyahu. From Corona to Budget, the “so-called” Peace accords that Gantz was kept in the dark about, Netanyahu sought to serve himself. Not to better the fate of Israel’s citizens. Not to effectively fight the Corona crisis, not to pass the budget so crucial projects could be funded, from defense to social services. No, any breath Netanyahu takes and took, is for the betterment of Netanyahu and nothing else. And Gantz fell for it every time. Gantz kept believing (like the political novice he is, would) that Netanyahu and the actions he undertakes and demands, are for the good of the country and the people. Even after having worked closely with Netanyahu during his tenure of Chief-of-Staff he still did not realize that Netanyahu cannot be trusted to do anything that is not serving his own purposes and goals.

The fall of the government was the direct result of the “nay” vote of some Blue-White Knesset members, who could not put up with the situation any longer, and the defection of a couple of backbenchers in the Likud party, who used big words to explain their “vote of conscience” against Netanyahu, but are probably simply looking for a new political home. Of course, the defection of Zeev Elkin, one of the trusted Netanyahu cronies, may be an insight that the unrest among Likud members, even Netanyahu’s closed allies, goes deeper that was previously assumed, and possibly additional defectors will leave the sinking ship that Netanyahu has become. The fact that Elkin immediately joins Gideon Sa’ar and his new party makes you wonder if also Elkin wasn’t simply looking for a new political home and decided to try his luck with this new right-wing challenge to Netanyahu and the Likud. What was remarkable about the Elkin defection was the ferocity of his parting words to Netanyahu. Where only weeks ago he was praising the Prime Minister and justifying each and every move, in his defection speech he did release a fury of accusations and condemnations of Netanyahu so fierce, that many must have been wondering if this was real, and how come it all erupted so suddenly and so harsh, or was this also no more than political games to establish himself in his new home. Either way it makes Elkin a very questionable politician who does not deserve the vote of any Israeli who wants to see things really change.

And nobody should delude himself that the Netanyahu era is finally at an end. There are still three months until the elections and it is safe to assume that coalition deliberations will take weeks if not months, so the damage that Netanyahu may inflict upon the country may still be considerable. And we might very well end up with a new Netanyahu government where he will continue on his destructive self-serving path as if nothing happened.

But at least there is some hope that Netanyahu will be send home to Caesarea and we will be rid of this dictator. But make no mistake. Politically, nothing will change and right-wing, fascist policies will continue and probably be strengthened. The new party of Sa’ar will be more hawkish than both the Likud and the Yamina parties. Sa’ar and Bennet, who are both gaining strongly in current opinion polls maybe “honest” politicians, which is a refreshing thought in itself after so many years of Netanyahu, but they are both firmly committed to the racist and fascist ideas that have characterized right-wing politics for many years now, and together they may receive the political strength to do what even Netanyahu was not able to do.

So what do you prefer: an honest fascist or a self-serving lying scoundrel?

I hope you found this article interesting and I welcome any comments you may have.

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