Benny Gantz is the only one who can form a coalition - opinion

If Netanyahu fails to reach 61 seats in the Knesset, the ultra-Orthodox may rethink their approach and realize that Gantz can build a government.

 Benny Gantz at the announcement of a merger between Blue and White and New Hope, July 10, 2022. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Benny Gantz at the announcement of a merger between Blue and White and New Hope, July 10, 2022.

We are just after the holidays and at the beginning of the new year – a fresh start. Ironically, we look ahead to yet another holiday, but perhaps not a celebratory one. We find ourselves in a polarizing political situation, just a few days before the fifth election in four years.

This election period and political campaigns are creating an atmosphere of division, of opposing camps. Priorities appear distorted, with politicians setting foundations for new walls or adding blocks to existing walls of division. 

My parents instilled in me the belief that we should always choose to build bridges rather than walls. 

Bear with me on this analogy. 

It is true that sometimes, some walls, some protective walls must be erected: against injustice, against violence, against hatred. But our primary intention and obligation should be to build bridges, in spite of any complexities or challenges along the way. The prospect of living in a gray, walled-up world is too somber to give up hope for bridges of peace between us and among us. 

 DEFENSE MINISTER and leader of the National Unity Party, Benny Gantz, attends the Jerusalem Post/Maariv conference in Tel Aviv, on Monday.  (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) DEFENSE MINISTER and leader of the National Unity Party, Benny Gantz, attends the Jerusalem Post/Maariv conference in Tel Aviv, on Monday. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Hate, by the way, is not only the product of extreme positions but also of extreme styles of delivery. 

In my opinion, we must not distinguish between the two. 

After an ugly incident that took place in the Knesset plenum not long ago, a certain party leader said that when choosing between substance and style, he chooses substance. Why must we choose? Why can’t we insist on both our words and the way we deliver them? 

Choosing between substance and style

We often deal with complex issues, sometimes even controversial ones – but we shouldn’t be handling anything by hurling personal insults at one another, or by violently knocking out our opponents. Even our opponents are our brothers and sisters. They will always be our brothers and sisters. When anyone loses sight, they need only look back at our founding fathers. It is Menachem Begin who once shouted, “We are brothers! And brothers – they don’t knock each other out.”

Today in particular, when we face internal turmoil and external challenges, the State of Israel needs balanced, responsible leaders. Leaders who understand and are equipped to face the magnitude of our threats, but also leaders who know the weight of their words and the way they are said – whether in the Knesset plenum, at home, or on the streets of Jerusalem. 

Benny Gantz is a leader of this kind. Benny Gantz is the right leader for Israel at this time.

Can Gantz be the right leader for Israel?

He has both a great commitment to unifying the nation of Israel and exceptional experience and capabilities in the war against our external threats – of which there is no shortage. 

The only political figure capable of rescuing Israel from the ceaseless cycle and trap of repeat elections is Benny Gantz. He is the only leader with whom parties from across the political spectrum will agree to sit – in a unity government. This is not to say that it will be easy.

If Netanyahu succeeds in gaining 61 seats in the Knesset, it is likely that the ultra-Orthodox parties will prefer to join him. On the other hand, if he fails to reach this number (which so far appears to be the case), then they will rethink their approach, and quickly realize that the only one with whom they can build a government, is Benny Gantz. Not only does Gantz aim to build bridges from his position of leadership, but today, at this critical point in time – he can act as a bridge between political camps. 

Today, Benny Gantz is also the most experienced security figure. Of course, there are additional candidates with honorable military service and experience, but in such challenging regional and global times, we cannot gamble, nor compromise on Israel’s security. Israel should be led by the most qualified person. 

Shouting, of which there is much in the Knesset unfortunately, does not reflect strength. On the contrary, Gantz’s strength is in his quiet, thorough, professional demeanor – his ability to thrive under pressure and to take unimaginably tough decisions on security issues, in a manner that is unmatched by any other politician. This is what Israel, that is what our children and our home need, in face of the enormous security challenges that lie around us today and that may develop in the future. 

This upcoming election is critical, and not only in terms of building a stable and broad national unity government that can competently handle security challenges. It is also a critical time for the Jewish character of our state. 

The choice is between a Judaism in which synagogues are open to all and a Judaism that closes the doors of its synagogues to those whose beliefs may differ. 

It is between a Judaism with Zionist chief rabbis, Tzohar kosher authority, conversions in the spirit of Beit Hillel, recruiting religious women to the IDF, and above all respecting those who disagree with us. These are profound tenets of an inclusive Judaism. 

The alternative is dark: a Judaism that rejects others; humiliates, mocks and shames individuals; that pushes people away from the books that in fact unite us all. 

Hate and Judaism do not go together.

For those who seek a Jewish, pluralistic, secure, stable, prosperous Israel – with room for all of us – the right choice in the upcoming election is the National Unity Party, led by Benny Gantz.

The writer is the culture and sports minister.