#29 Gaby Ashkenazi - The game changer

Careful to not engage in politics now, the future might hold meaningful and important roles for Gaby Ashkenazi.

Gabi Ashkenazi (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Gabi Ashkenazi
Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi has been the board chairman for the past five years of the Rashi Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation dedicated to assisting the underprivileged in Israel, particularly children and youth.
But it is his future, not his present, that makes him worthy of this list. Ashkenazi is seen as the ultimate game changer, whose entrance into Israeli politics could carry the party he decides to join to victory.
Ashkenazi is not a fan of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, according to a September 3 report, mysteriously spoke to the editor of the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom just before it went to press with a headline bashing Ashkenazi a few years ago.
Netanyahu saw him as future competition for the premiership, a role that late president Shimon Peres groomed him for.
Ashkenazi disappointed many in the Labor Party when he decided not to seek its chairmanship in the July 4 Labor primary. The deadline to join the race passed without him even knowing about it, proving he did not even consider running.
A day after Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein announced his decision to close the file against Ashkenazi in the Harpaz Affair in January 2016, a Midgam poll taken for Channel 2 found that 41% of Israelis preferred Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 16% were for Ashkenazi, with 43% declining to choose either or saying that they did not know.
The poll found that 28.8% believed Ashkenazi had the best chance to defeat Netanyahu, higher than any other potential candidate at the time.
Since then, Ashkenazi became one of the leaders of Pnima, an organization that is seen as an incubator for future Israeli leaders and exposes them to different sectors of the population to learn about their problems.
So whether Ashkenazi is asked to form a bloc of parties that runs in the next election or becomes No. 2 in an existing party, he is a force to be reckoned with and a name you are likely to be hearing plenty of in the near future.