Is it time for a change in Israeli leadership?

If Labor had been in power so many decades, it is quite possible that the same systemic diseases, rot and corruption would have set in, perhaps without the private pretensions of a would-be royal family

Lord John Dalberg-Acton (1834-1902) (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
Lord John Dalberg-Acton (1834-1902)
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)

Behind the one-man show that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is a government. Beyond foreign and defense policies, which are intrinsically linked for Israel, the government should be seen as a corporation, with executives entrusted to various departments or ministries.
The electoral system in Israel inevitably leads to a coalition and the coalition inevitably leads to bargaining over which sector represented by which party can get more money. Thus the coalition government ends up as party fiefdoms. Suddenly, as ministries are used as sweeteners to buy the loyalty of their parties, ministers immediately begin to tilt their budgets in favor for their new fiefdom. They are both executives managing or mismanaging a department.
Worse, the number of ministers and deputy ministers in Netanyahu’s government has burgeoned to 28 in total. These 21 ministers and seven deputy ministers cost a fortune: cars, offices (often both in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), home rentals or hotels, secretaries, drivers, assistants, spokesmen, overseas flights, expense accounts and whatnot.
How can the Knesset function decently as a legislative body of 120 when almost one quarter of its members are bought and paid for by the prime minister. In times of coalitionary need, the holy of holies in Israel: the ministry of defense and the sanctuary of education have been peddled cheaply as though the ministry was a revolving door for always ambitious and sometimes unscrupulous politicians.
Imagine you are an idealistic young officer in the IDF, knowing of the dangers and threats to your soldiers and yourself – imagine what you must feel when the top civilian who is to a great extent responsible for your life and limb is shunted in and out of office by a cynical political boss. Imagine you are a senior officer who must salute a politician who may just as well be a stopgap or a wannabe – all to keep the Likud in power.
Imagine you are a school principal or a devoted teacher, suddenly receiving undemocratic and slanted curricula changes while budgets are shifted in favor of one sector. How much idealism and devotion is required to instruct and inspire children and adolescents in spite of the anti-educational ministerial appointments.
The Likud has been in power most of the past four decades. The honest prime ministers, such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, were mainly concerned with foreign and defense policy, although Begin did care as well for improving the lot of the underprivileged. In the almost three decades of Bibi-ism, rot and corruption have set in. Ministers are indicted; hostile ministers of justice try to force the legal system into a Polish-Hungarian model of lack of independence; immunity is granted by the Knesset in a case that should have gone to court. The minister of police tries similarly to control the police force politically while the police themselves show rampant racism and sexism.
The hospitals are overloaded while the minister worries about the special treatment for an important rabbi’s wife and the safety of an indicted multi-multiple sex offender. The Interior Ministry is manned by Shas followers who have never seen any light from the Enlightenment and the Religious Services Ministry has become and supports the workings of rabbis out of touch with modernity and democracy. King Bibi himself crawls on his hands and knees to the fascist-like followers of Kahanism to beg them to do his will so he can continue in office and never face trial.
If Labor had been in power so many decades, it is quite possible that the same systemic diseases, rot and corruption would have set in, perhaps without the private pretensions of a would-be royal family. And this article would thus be titled “Why not to vote Labor.” But it has been Bibi’s non-Revisionist Likud that has been in power and privilege, lo these many decades.
It’s time for a change, for a new lot to take over for four or eight years – limited to two terms, whoever the prime minister may be. There are those in Blue and White experienced and honest enough to lead the government, both in defense and foreign policy and management. Some of its leaders seem competent and even idealistic.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord John Dalberg-Acton wrote in 1887. The Bible faced corrupt judges and leaders thousands of years ago. It is time for a change. The time is now. The place is the polling booth. Israel needs change.
The writer held senior positions in the offices of prime ministers
David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol and was world chairman of
Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal from 1978 to 1988