An open letter to Avi Gabbay

Avi, you and your advisers are wrong, dead wrong!

WHAT IS Avi Gabbay up to? (photo credit: REUTERS)
WHAT IS Avi Gabbay up to?
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Dear Avi Gabbay,
If I wanted an insincere leader who says whatever he thinks his target audience wants to hear at the time, well to be honest, I would probably vote for Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid. He’s better at it than you are.
You see Avi, the Left has not forgotten what it is to be Jewish. In many ways the Left reinvented what it is to be Jewish. The secular Zionists who established and built the State of Israel created not only a new country, but also a new kind of Jew, indeed many different types of Jews. And that is the beauty of modern Israel, the national homeland of the Jews, with a place for all Jews, be they religious or secular, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, whether they believe in God or not, whether they keep the mitzvot or not.
Yes, Avi, you can be Jewish and not believe in God! One might argue that it is the extremists within the Orthodox monopoly, the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) communities and the National Religious communities, who have forgotten what it is to be Jewish, as they abandon the tenets of Judaism, preferring to pursue self-interest and extremist agendas, which fly in the face of Jewish culture, Jewish values and Judaism itself.
Your strategy to win the next election seems to rely upon pandering to the right wing and the religious.
You tack right in the hope of attracting centrists and disillusioned Likudniks. I see comments from your supporters in the party saying don’t worry about his comments, they’re not for us. He needs to attract those on the right. He needs to placate the religious.
Stay quiet, don’t rock the boat. Gabbay knows what he’s doing. Look at the polls.
I suggest you ask your predecessor as to the reliability of polls.
Avi, you and your advisers are wrong, dead wrong! Your strategy indicates a serious lack of respect for, not to mention understanding of, the electorate. The people of Israel see through your wholly transparent and cynical ploy. They understand that you need their votes and now know that you will say almost anything to gain their support. That won’t work! The electorate are cynical toward politics and no wonder. They have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lying to them. They have Lapid lying to them, they have Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, and the haredi and Arab parties lying to them... and now they have you. If they are going to vote for lies, deceit and more of the same, they will more than likely vote for the devil they know.
Someone best explained to me the problem of the Labor Party thus: The Labor Party is selling something in which it doesn’t believe and doesn’t believe it can sell what it genuinely believes in. And so it has been for far too long now.
The electorate is crying out for genuine leadership and it was my hope that you could regenerate the party and the Center-Left to deliver to the people of Israel a credible alternative, so desperately needed by the country.
Israelis want that alternative. They really do. Israelis want to see conviction once again in their politicians.
They want to see leaders who put the interests of the whole country before those of narrow interest groups and their political careers. They want to see politicians who understand that they in fact work for the people and not the other way around. They want to see dynamism and creativity. They want to see honesty and integrity. They want a brave new approach to the challenges we face as a country. They want authenticity.
Of late, the much publicized political change in countries across the globe has been achieved (for better or for worse) by those who dare to be different, those who have boldly stated things need to change, that the status quo is no longer acceptable, those who have offered and fought for an alternative vision with which voters can identify and which excites, energizes and drives people to action. Real change will never come from offering more of the same or a “me too” approach.
The political fight in Israel is no longer about Right and Left, rather it is a struggle between those who believe in a vibrant Jewish democracy for all its citizens and those who have indeed forgotten what it is to be Jewish, who promote fear and division and who peddle their own bastardized version of Judaism, willing to sacrifice the democratic nature of our country and true Jewish values, at the altar of their own extremist ideology and self-interest.
I urge you to stop, take stock, be brave, be different, be authentic and deliver a genuine alternative.
Yours sincerely, Gary Cohen
The author is a writer and award winning film maker.
Originally from Scotland, he is based in Israel, working on a variety of film and writing projects.