Benny Gantz, chairman of the Israel Resilience Party.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Gantz, who served for two years
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz spent decades in the army perfecting his aim in regular target practice.
He has now had just over a month in politics to figure out how to target Israelis. His maiden address at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Tuesday night indicated that he hit the bullseye.
In the United States, new politicians are taught to focus on unquestioned consensus American values like motherhood and apple pie.
as the IDF attaché in Washington, appeared to find the Israeli equivalent in his speech, with slogans about the IDF and promises of clean governance.
“There is no more Right or Left but Israel before everything,” the loud speakers repeated ad nauseam, to get the message through that Gantz is the candidate for Israelis who are sick of politics and desperate for someone who can put the country first.
Gantz promised to “bring security with actions and not with words,” he used six different Hebrew words that mean strength and he repeatedly said that he would act “statesmanlike.”
He wants to pursue peace, but he is very skeptical, and meanwhile, he wants to make internal peace among Israelis. He would strengthen the settlement blocs – meaning not the isolated ones – and would never give up control over the Golan Heights.
“United Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital forever,” Gantz said, in the ultimate consensus statement.
To appeal to right-wing voters, Gantz knows that he cannot criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu too harshly, so his first criticism of him was not by name. His first mention of Netanyahu was about him making peace with Yasser Arafat, who Gantz called a mass murderer.
He talked about helping the periphery by building more hospitals in the North and the South. He reached out to Yesh Atid voters by calling for registration of civil unions of couples and public transportation on Shabbat “in communities that want it.”
Labor leader Avi Gabbay refused to mention the Western Wall agreement in his address two weeks ago. But Gantz did, in a gesture to progressive American Jews angered by Netanyahu’s rejection of it.
And the appearance of former IDF chief Moshe Ya’alon at the end of the event made Gantz look like a unifier.
The event ended with blue and white streamers falling from the ceiling after Gantz and Ya’alon sang “Hatikvah” together with young people in back of them.
If Gantz can continue hitting his target, the election could end up becoming more interesting.
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