Left Right out?
In the more than 37 years since I made aliyah I have not felt more depressed before a national election as I am today.
If the pundits and the polls are correct – that’s a big IF in Israel because they are so often wrong – the next Israeli government will either be a Likud coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu (Bibi) or a Kachol Lavan coalition led by absolute newcomer Benny Gantz (Heb. Blue & White).
In my mind that’s a choice between a known party with an OK if not superlative record, rocked by scandal, especially with its leader, and a party formed essentially overnight whose major and perhaps only selling points are “We are not Bibi” and three former IDF Chiefs of the General Staff in the top five positions.
By the way, Gantz is not exactly free from scandal, himself.
“The events of the last day proved again that there are only two groups in Israeli politics. The Bibi Camp, and the Anyone But Bibi Camp.” Akiva Novick
You might notice I have strictly avoided labelling either group Right or Left. Partly, this is because I think those terms are very unhelpful, even misleading, in the Israeli context. Please reread Compass points for my views on the right and left in Israel.
Also because those labels have become a running joke in this election. The Likud publishes ads claiming Kachol Lavan is ‘Left’ while HaAvoda (Labor) publishes ads that Kachol Lavan is really ‘Right’. Who knows? Certainly not Kachol Lavan.
Am I reassured that a party with three former top soldiers couldn’t possibly endanger Israel? Not at all!
Israel’s political history with top soldiers has been less than golden. Ehud Barak, former Chief of Staff and Prime Minister, pulled out of Lebanon in the process deserting our Lebanese allies and now we are facing 100,000 missiles. Ariel Sharon, the man Yitzhak Rabin called “the greatest field commander in our history”, former Head of IDF’s Southern Command and Prime Minister, pulled out of Gaza, which was followed by three major wars and we are staring down the barrel of a fourth.
Yigael Yadin, former Chief of Staff and Deputy Prime Minister and world-renowned archaeologist brought the Democratic Movement for Change (Dash) loaded with prominent personalities into the 9th Knesset and watched it crash and burn in the course of one Knesset term. He also included top soldier Meir Amit in the list. It didn’t help.
There are too many similarities with Kahol Lavan to ignore.
And the list goes on …
Why not vote HaAvoda the traditional anyone other than Bibi party? It’s not that I haven’t voted for them before and their sister social democratic Labour Party in Australia.
Yitschak Rabin, former Chief of Staff and Prime Minister (Do you see a pattern developing?) made the decision that was arguably the most contemptuous of democracy, good government and even proper management in Israel’s history AKA the Oslo Accords and I hold myself responsible because of my vote in that very tight election.
The answer at the time to those who feared what Rabin’s party would do was that a former and arguably Israel’s greatest chief of staff would never return Israel’s great enemy Arafat to a place where he could make war on us. The IDF’s ‘computer’ wouldn’t fall for wishful thinking.
The 25th Knesset was constructed with a single seat majority for the HaAvodah coalition and that achieved by bribing two members of Raphael Eitan’s Tzomet party to defect. Had I known I would have voted otherwise and I strongly suspect enough of similar mind would have made the same decision.
HaAvoda’s current dismal polling may have several reasons but I suspect Avi Gabbai’s announcement that he would continue Rabin’s legacy even after it conclusively failed and the emergence of an alternative ‘not Netanyahu’ party have much to do with it.
So I should vote for a smaller party hovering close to the cut-off point for entry to the Knesset? Hmmmm.
So I am stuck, for the first time in almost forty years in Israel, having to admit that I don’t know who to vote for.
- The Gantz mishpacha: 8 things to know for February 21, Joshua Davidovich, The Times of Israel, 21 February 2019
† Eran Wilkovski, Haaretz