Too much exercise

This is old politics at its worst, and a sad sign of where we’re headed – to the past instead of the future.

By
December 4, 2014 14:06
3 minute read.
Netanyahu Livni and Lapid

Netanyahu Livni and Lapid. (photo credit: REUTERS,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Exercising the right as citizens to vote in elections is surely one of the crowning privileges of living in a democracy. But it seems as if in Israel we’re getting to be like one of those obsessive workout freaks who just can’t get off the treadmill.

After the last elections in 2012, there seemed to be a palpable sigh of relief that with the entry of younger, “new idea” leaders like Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett joining the government, a change was afoot.

Despite their political differences, they shared a modern approach aimed at bypassing the debilitating bureaucracy amassed over the decades, which has hobbled Israel’s progress in so many areas.

Would the “old politics” Israeli tradition of backroom deals, petty factionalism and political expedience be replaced by good government, whose bottom line wasn’t just survival and self-promotion? Despite the constant tensions between Bennett on the Right and Lapid on the Left tugging at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from both sides, there were indications that headway in a positive direction was being made in some spheres.

I’m not talking about relations with our Palestinian neighbors – their actions and Netanyahu’s inaction and reactions have created a disheartening and miserable environment that hasn’t been felt since the dark days of the first and second intifadas.

But in other areas – mostly social and economic – this government has been on a positive path of reversing decades of policies that have created a middle class which can’t afford to buy a home, and enabled a huge segment of the population to evade army service, instead encouraging haredim to enter the workforce rather than living off the government dole.

There was a feeling, at least, that there were some serious people in the government who were moving the country forward.

However, the onset of new elections has not only stalled that progress in its tracks, it’s paved the way for its reversal.

Once again, we’re climbing onto the treadmill – for an expensive, four-month marathon of electioneering.

It’s unlikely that the next election results will see a coalition forming without Netanyahu at its head, and including haredi parties. Bibi has already laid the groundwork for a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox, by declaring his opposition this week to the criminal sanctions clause of the law for haredi conscription to the IDF.

This is old politics at its worst, and a sad sign of where we’re headed – to the past instead of the future. At this moment in the country’s young life, we are stuck. Just like the political parties, we’re a nation of factions each with its own outlook, priorities and prejudices.

And with each successive election, that division is becoming more apparent.

Thanks to the Palestinian terror campaign against Israel, the likely outcome of the next election is a turn to the Right even more than two years ago, and a coalition whose most centrist partner could be Likud renegade Moshe Kahlon.

Who knows? Maybe that’s what we need at this point in time – a like-minded government without dissent. But it doesn’t bode well for us in either an international setting or a domestic one.

The only silver lining about the collapse of the government? It couldn’t have come at a better time for The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, which is taking place next Thursday, December 11, at Jerusalem’s David Citadel Hotel.

Over 300 ambassadors, diplomats and local and international media will hear Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Interior Minister Gilad Erdan give their views on the upcoming elections. And speakers like President Reuven Rivlin, former president Shimon Peres and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro will undoubtedly base their remarks on the changing political landscape.

The conference will be streamed live on www.jpost.com beginning at 9:15 a.m.

Better make sure we have a healthy supply of sweatbands and towels – it’s going to be a long journey on the treadmill.


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