Analysis: A tough choice for Gideon Sa’ar

Now that his dream job is within grasp, Sa'ar must decide if to run.

Gideon Sa'ar (Center) says goodbye to the Knesset, November 3, 2014.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Gideon Sa'ar (Center) says goodbye to the Knesset, November 3, 2014.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Life was so much more simple three months ago for Gideon Sa’ar.
He announced his retirement from politics at a well-attended pre-Rosh Hashana toast, and then weeks later left his job to spend more time with his family.
Since then, his infant son David, who he said he wanted to see start walking, took his first steps. The proud father put cute pictures up on Instagram.
But now Sa’ar’s dream job is within his grasp. A poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and Maariv Sof Hashavua published Friday found that the public preferred him to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A Midgam poll on Channel 10 Tuesday night predicted that Netanyahu would lose to a Labor list that would include Tzipi Livni. If Sa’ar led Likud, he would do just as well as Netanyahu.
Likud activists are calling on Sa’ar to save the party he genuinely loves.
Strategists are saying that even if he loses a Likud leadership race to Netanyahu, it could set him up as his heir apparent. They say that sometimes it helps to lose to win in the long run.
All Sa’ar needs to do in the first round of voting in a Likud race is join the other two challengers, MKs Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon, in preventing Netanyahu from winning 40 percent of the vote. Then Feiglin and Danon would unite behind Sa’ar in a runoff race that would be very winnable.
But on the other hand, running is a great risk. Winning is not guaranteed, and even if he did emerge victorious, Netanyahu could then rebel and split the party.
Since Sa’ar left politics, Netanyahu built his political base by moving to the Right, while Sa’ar lost the Interior portfolio, which is a powerful post.
He has made clear that his decision will not be connected to the journalistic career of his wife, Channel 1 anchorwoman Geula Even. Media reports on Tuesday that she had been suspended from her job pending his political decision were incorrect.
There is not much time left, especially if the Likud central committee votes Wednesday to advance the race by a week to December 31. The deadline to join the race is Sunday at 2 p.m.
If only it were simple.