Dear Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, I want to share with you the feeling of
frustration that many of us Likud members have been feeling since you took
Until now, this feeling did not cause us to leave the Likud, but
as someone who loves this incredible movement, I do worry of the consequences of
your continued movement away from the party’s traditional
Five years ago, when I received my new identity card after
making aliya, one of the first actions I did was to call the Likud offices in
order to join the party. This was a day of great pride for me, as I felt I was
joining a great movement with an outstanding history, which stood for an
unlimited love for the Land of Israel, a realistic view of international
relations and a liberal view of economics.
In the past few years, your
government has moved away from every single one of these principles. What is
even more shocking is that for the past few decades you have been the most
talented spokesman in Israel for those very principles in your many speeches and
Many Likud members now ask themselves: has our leader changed
his views? Is the Likud still the Likud, or should we start looking for a new
movement to join? After all, the reason why we are a part of the Likud is not
just because of the name tag, but because of those very principles.
terrorists are getting released in order to advance negotiations that will lead
nowhere, this became the straw that broke the camel’s back. That led me to write
this letter, where I show you that your actions are the exact opposite of the
policy you have always promoted.
My greatest hope is that this letter
finds you and convinces you to reevaluate your actions, for the good of our
Likud and for the good of the State of Israel.
No to a demilitarized
It is now public knowledge that you have shifted from your
traditional position of opposing a Palestinian state and have now decided to
support it. The only thing still differentiating you from the far Left on this
important issue is your insistence that the Palestinian state should be
demilitarized. However, one must ask if this difference is actually significant,
or if it is nothing more than spin to keep differentiating you from the
The fact that demilitarization is meaningless is clear from
history. After all, Nazi Germany was demilitarized before it became
No country in the world will go to war against another
country just because it built a military. It would wait for the country to use
its military, and by then it would be too late.
Yet there is no need to
look far to find a coherent argument against the idea of a demilitarized state.
In fact, you have given some of the best arguments on the subject.
past, you indeed spoke of the fact that if we recognize the right of every
minority to a state, there is no end in sight to this demand.
Arabs could wake up and request an Israeli Arab state within the pre-1967
borders of Israel. After all, what is the difference between them and the
Palestinians, other than the fact that they live on different sides of the
armistice line? You also famously came out against anyone comparing the
demilitarization of Sinai as part of the Camp David Accords, to an eventual
demilitarization of Judea and Samaria. Your argument was simple: Judea and
Samaria are close to Jerusalem and to Tel Aviv. Only actual Israeli rule of
these territories will ensure that Israel can have the territorial depth it
needs to push back attacks coming from the east.
This fact obviously has
not changed. We still need territorial depth. If anything, the recent events in
the Middle East teach us that we cannot count on Jordan staying our friend
forever, since it is impossible to foresee events in this region. This only
strengthens your argument! The Netanyahu which the Likud wanted in office would
never have agreed to such a concession.
Therefore, I ask myself, what did
change? Did you change your worldview? Is Prime Minister Netanyahu different
than the Netanyahu we all respected and admired? No to the release of terrorists
One of the most puzzling changes we are witnessing in your opinions is on the
subject of the release of terrorists.
From a very clear “We do not
negotiate with terrorists,” you have now already freed a number of terrorists,
first in the context of the Gilad Schalit deal, and now in the context of
renewed negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
You used to call the
release of terrorists a fatal blow to our attempts to unite the world against
terrorism. After all, if we ourselves release terrorists, how can we ask the
world for a more stringent approach? Your opposition to the Jibril Agreement,
where Palestinian terrorists were released in exchange for three Israeli
prisoners, makes it hard to understand the Schalit deal. However, it makes it
still harder to understand how you can now release terrorists without getting
anything in return! The only thing you are getting is the great “privilege” to
sit at the negotiating table and discuss the creation of a Palestinian state,
which you should not even be pursuing! Mr. Prime Minister, your brother, Yoni
Netanyahu, was killed in a heroic mission that took place specifically in order
to stop the release of prisoners in exchange for hostages.
releasing terrorists now become so easy for you? No to government intervention
in our economic choices
Moving away from security issues, there is another
important area in which the government under your leadership is implementing
policies which are the complete opposite of the ideas you represent. That area
You are known in Israel as one of the rare representatives
of a capitalist neo-conservative worldview. Your liberal economic agenda should
mean less government intervention, more free markets, less government spending
and less government debt.
However, after the social justice protests of
2011, your government started applying policies which are at odds with such
First of all, you implemented “free education from the age of
three.” Of course, the name of the policy initiative hides the fact that nothing
in this world is free. If we give “free” education, the taxpayer must pay for
Also, this means that people who do not wish to send their children
to kindergartens are penalized.
As a liberal economist, you should be
completely opposed to this policy! The fact that the deficit of Israel keeps on
getting bigger, and that your government has expanded the amount you are adding
to the deficit, is contradictory to your conservative principles that promote
There are also tax increases. While keeping income
tax low, the value-added tax keeps on getting higher. A true free-marketer would
cut spending instead of increasing taxation.
THE FIELD of economics is no
different than the other fields we have already explored.
Here too, the
principles you have stood up for throughout your career are not being
Let Binyamin Netanyahu be Binyamin Netanyahu! The reason why I
am writing this letter is not simply to criticize. I want you to know that your
greatest supporters are incredibly disappointed with your performance. If your
political strategy is to widen the support you have in the public, then you
should know that doing so at the expense of losing your base will mean that you
will have no political support left.
The Left will never vote you into
office, and the Right is becoming more and more frustrated with the policies you
But I am also writing this letter to give you another
message. My feeling is that the Netanyahu whom I admired from his writings and
speeches is still there. However, he is afraid to lead. In Israel, it is much
easier to take the direction which the old elites have outlined, rather than to
lead in a new direction. This has been the problem of the Right ever since it
came to power. It won elections, but could not lead.
At this point in
your career, you are probably thinking of the legacy which you will leave
behind. The choice, in my view, is clear. You can be just another prime minister
who did what every other prime minister has done before him. Or you can be a
prime minister that stood on principles and courageously applied them. You can
be a leader. You just need to let the prime minister be Netanyahu! Few people
have the skills to be true leaders.
You are one of those few
The question is: Do you have the willpower? The writer is an
attorney who graduated from McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s
honors graduate program in public policy. He is currently working as a research
fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum.