Listen: I’d like to see a return to political normalcy as well. I’m willing to take a chance on another election.
I saw a headline in the Jerusalem Post today asking: “Who’s at fault for Israel’s third coronavirus wave?”
I’m not sure we ever really got over the first wave. To me a more pertinent question is “who’s at fault for Israel’s fourth election in two years?”
I’m not going to answer that directly because I don’t like playing the blame game. Politics is complicated. Personal and political rivalries, some of them petty, always get in the way of the common good.
We need to make it clear that nothing’s final yet. The Knesset can still pull back from the brink. Wednesday’s vote to dissolve itself is procedural. It still needs approval from two committees. The Knesset members themselves must vote on it three more times. But if all goes according to the script that’s being written, by this time next week, we should have a date for new elections, probably sometime between Purim and Pesach.
Closer to Purim would be more apropos, considering how most of our elected leaders have spent the last nine months in a dress rehearsal for the upcoming election.
Let’s be upfront about this.
Nobody in the current government wanted the coalition we got stuck with. The only reason Likud and Blue and White joined forces was due to the unfortunate election math following the March 2020 election. Neither of the two big parties could cobble together a coalition of 61 votes. Likud and Blue and White was never a shidduch. It was a marriage destined for divorce. One party is center right and other is center-left. The leaders of each party have worked with other in the past and have learned to dislike and distrust each other. There’s no common ground. They can’t pass a budget. They never wanted to because it was always something they could weaponize to use against the other party. They can’t face up to the fact that the lockdown policy to battle the coronavirus is an utter failure and causes more harm than good.
Naftali Bennett may have resorted to some hyperbole in his Knesset speech before the vote to disband the Knesset, but as political rhetoric, it’s the first shot fired in the upcoming campaign:
Bennett says the state of Israel has turned from the start-up nation to a nation torn with dissension. We’ve gone from a state of innovation to a state of lockdowns. Oh, there’s one thing Israel can take pride in. We’re now number one in the world when it comes to elections.
Well not exactly. Four elections in two years is abnormal, but overall, in 72 years of statehood, Israel has had only 23 Knesset elections. That’s about one every three years. America has a presidential election every four years and Congressional midterms every two years. They’re considered a model of stability. Israel also has a long way to go to catch up with Italy, and its 61 governments since World War II.
But Bennett has been nipping at Bibi Netanyahu’s Achilles heel for a long time now. Netanyahu gets all the credit for being the craftiest politician in Israel, and he is, but even the best of us make mistakes.
Bibi made a major blunder sidelining Naftali Bennett from his coalition after the March election. He’s now paying the price. Bennett’s party is running a close second to the Likud in all of the polls. Yamina’s one-two-three punch of Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Bezalel Smotrich are increasingly seen as a collection of young, dynamic MKs compared to the Likud, whose old guard looks increasingly tired and unimaginative, while insisting that no one knows better than them how to run the country.
Having said that, never count Binyamin Netanyahu out.
While he may have goofed on Bennett, he has scored a TKO of Benny Gantz, boxing him into a corner that even Muhammad Ali couldn’t have punched his way out of.
Let’s be upfront about the following, even if Binyamin Netanyahu won’t admit the truth.
Bibi wants new elections more than anyone.
All the polls show that the right wing, which hasn’t been able to count past 60 ever since Avigdor Lieberman left the fold, could surpass that number, easily now, without Lieberman.
A majority right-wing government could potentially shield Netanyahu from his corruption trial. A right-wing government, if it got gutsy enough, could curb the veto power of the Supreme Court to cancel duly-passed Knesset laws that don’t suit their worldview. A solid right-wing coalition could show more backbone to Joe Biden’s version of America, who’s chomping at the bit for January 20, 2021 so he can start appeasing Iran and the Palestinian Authority.
But Netanyahu can’t come out and say all that.
Right now, he is campaigning for an Academy Award as Best Actor. And he would win, hands down for insisting he wants no part of new elections while making sure that Benny Gantz gets all the blame for it.
Netanyahu is saying: “Benny Gantz needs to step on the brakes. He has to stop the downward spiral to elections and restrain himself from launching personal attacks. We can’t afford new elections when we have to focus on the battle against corona, protect the health of our people and save lives, and nurse everyone’s parnassa back to good health.”
I’ll go one giant step further. Israelis want their lives back. Enough of the lockdowns that don’t work. In that respect, Bennett is correct. Just today, Professor Moti Gerlic an immunologist at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Medicine told Arutz 7 what just about every thinking Israeli has known for months. The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has no relation to how many people are actually getting sick from it. Professor Gerlic says we know more about the virus every day and the treatments are getting better. He even complimented the chareidi sector for reopening schools and conducting life as close to normally as possible without the dire consequences that everyone predicted. He contends 15-18% of the population is at risk of complications from the coronavirus and that the remaining 80-85% percent should be allowed to conduct their lives normally too.
I’d like to see a return to political normalcy as well. I’m willing to take a chance on another election. It’s too early to tell if the polls are correct and that Bibi and Bennett would win about 50 seats between them. Even if they do, there is no telling that Bibi and Bennett will be able to bury their personal animosity and join forces to lead a government. If they can, they will enjoy the support of the chareidi parties, Shas and UTJ, giving the government a solid majority of 65 to 70.
It’s worth a try. What we have now is a government by stalemate. Israelis are tired of the stalemate. They’re frustrated with sitting home, having nowhere to go, and not enough money in their pockets go anywhere and do anything even if everything was open. Let’s try one more election to see if we can break the deadlock.
Exclusive to Mishpacha.com
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