Blue and White mix message of hope with outrage in final message to voters

“We are for hope and hope will win.”

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz addresses supporters, Tel Aviv, February 29, 2020 (photo credit: AVISHAI FINKELSTEIN)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz addresses supporters, Tel Aviv, February 29, 2020
In front of an enthusiastic and good spirited crowd in Tel Aviv Saturday night, the four leaders of Blue and White expressed in turn hope for a new political dawn. They also expressed outrage against what they portrayed as the misdeeds and offenses of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
After fading in the polls over the last week and a half, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya’alon took turns to rally the crowd and energize the party’s activists to regain the party’s earlier momentum.
If this final party rally before the election on Monday is a barometer, Blue and White has decided to persist with their warnings about the alleged threat to democracy posed by Netanyahu and his possible effort to obtain immunity from prosecution, and with a message of hope for less divisive times.
MK Gabi Ashkenazi, the party member in the No. 4 slot, spoke first and berated Netanyahu, declaring “We won’t let hatred win; we won’t let racism win.”
Ashkenazi’s tone was upbeat but his messages were that “there are 48 hours to stop the lies,” and that “one more Knesset seat and Netanyahu will stay in power.”
MK Moshe Ya’alon, as is his wont, denounced and condemned Netanyahu and his government, speaking in dire terms of the need to “save the country” and the prime minister’s attempt to turn Israel into “an extremist Bibistan.”
Ya’alon declared: “We have to stop Netanyahu from getting 61 MKs so that he can grant himself immunity.”
But then came the message of hope, and despite the crowd’s attentiveness to the warnings of Ashkenazi and Ya’alon, the gathered attendees and activists were far more responsive to the upbeat tone of Lapid and Gantz.
“We are talking about hope. It is not some thing. Our outlook is hope, values, change, and being part of something bigger than us all,” Lapid proclaimed.
“Everywhere in Israel people have a different story which is still the same: about people who got up and said fear won’t direct me, hatred won’t guide me, I believe in hope,” he said, and launched into a list of reforms the party would carry out, from amending the controversial Nation-State Law, to permitting surrogacy services for gay men, and for a two-term limit for prime ministers, a pledge which got the biggest cheer of the night.
Gantz started his speech with no small dose of outrage and concern over Netanyahu and his actions, and reeled off a long list of the prime minister’s alleged misdeeds.
But apparently rejecting a “gevalt” campaign about the imminent victory of his political foe, turned to a more positive message.
“We are for hope, and hope will win,” declared Gantz to cheers from the crowd.
“We are the hope. We are for a united and unified society. The time has come for unity,” the Blue and White leader declared, and went on to talk of the hope of “not leaving any child behind,” and of the social reforms he seeks to implement.
And if one thing might give Gantz hope, it is three attendees from Sderot who declared their total dedication to Blue and White’s victory.
Sderot, the cities of the geographic periphery and their residents – the majority of whom are from the Mizrachi community – are seen as a stronghold of Likud support, which constitutes Netanyahu’s political base and cannot be swayed to desert him.
Dvorah Biton from Sderot and her two friends were of a different mind.
“I grew up in a right-wing family; in my family home we had a picture of [former Likud prime minister] Menachem Begin,” she observed.
“If we allow corruption then we’ll end up like Turkey, like Erdogan. They had a democratic state, and when the PM wants to get immunity from prosecution we’ll become a dictatorship,” she asserted in her message of outrage.
Biton concluded her message of hope by saying that, “I want to vote for my children and grandchildren, for quiet [from Gaza]. I decided to stop voting for the past and [to] vote for the future instead.”