Presidential race: The fetid farce's finale

In hindsight, Netanyahu's effort to cancel the race - and if he could, the presidency - looks more like an act of mercy than the act of desperation and hedonism it was seen as at the time.

June 10, 2014 10:29
2 minute read.
Netanyahu, Peres and Rivlin

Netanyahu, Peres and Rivlin. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The best thing about elections is that they eventually end.

That statement could of course be true in any election.

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But it's especially correct about a presidential race in which too many candidates ran, most of the contestants were investigated, and the prime minister intervened unsuccessfully in an effort to cancel the election.

Perhaps it is fitting that the race started off with tears. Bawling MK Reuven Rivlin could not hold back his emotions seven years ago when conceding the last presidential contest to Shimon Peres.

Those tears were the beginning of Rivlin's next campaign. But it was already clear then that he would not be given the presidency on a silver platter.

Dalia Itzik had served as acting president when Moshe Katsav suspended himself to concentrate on his legal fight. She became enamored with the job and had to restrain herself not to run against her mentor Peres, who had lost to Katsav seven years earlier.

The trend of the Knesset's most veteran politicians running continued, thanks to MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Meir Sheetrit. The phenomenon of outsiders like former Supreme Court judge Dalia Dorner and Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman deeming themselves worthy of the presidency was also not new.

But when it looked like Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, solar pioneer Yossi Abramowitz and libel fighter Yehuda David would also run in a field of nine candidates, the fight became a farce.

The farce became fetid when candidate after candidate suddenly found himself facing investigations. Lucky candidates like Rivlin and Sheetrit got off easy with their probes only reaching media outlets and Youtube.

But Shalom's career was jeopardized by sexual harassment allegations against him that were dismissed due to lack of evidence. Even if he is eventually also cleared, Ben-Eliezer's decades of public service have been forever tarnished by the corruption charges he quit the race to fight.

A race that should have been about who was most fit to move into the President's Residence ended with multiple candidates revealing that they own multiple residences.

In hindsight, Netanyahu's effort to cancel the race - and if he could, the presidency - looks more like an act of mercy than the act of desperation and hedonism it was seen as at the time.

By Tuesday afternoon, it will all be over. The fetid farce will be finished, and one of the candidates will be declared the victor.

As tradition holds, the Knesset will wish the winner long life, chanting “Yechi, yechi, yechi!”

But what they will really mean will be “Yucky, yucky, yucky!”

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