Middle Israel: The next government's record

Our hopes are modest: that the next administration will have no idea what police investigators seek, what judges ask, how courtrooms look from within and how witnesses sound from without

2706-middle (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
As the curtain finally rings down on the Kafkaesque production that Israel's 31st government has constituted, the most sensible way to bid it farewell is not to look back to its own legacy, but to look ahead and predict its successor's record. Here it is: Israel's 32nd government will not appoint an indicted embezzler as finance minister, a convicted sexual offender as deputy prime minister, and will not have an alleged recipient of cash envelopes at its helm. Instead, the next government will only include able, accomplished, scrupulous, humble, daring, accountable, balanced and visionary people. It will therefore not leave smart people like former Ben-Gurion University president Avishai Braverman, former IDF chief scientist Prof. Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael and former Hebrew University rector Menahem Ben-Sasson languishing outside the cabinet room, while crowding it with nonentities like former secretary Ruhama Avraham, union hack Amir Peretz and liar Estherina Tartman, who publicly claimed degrees she never earned. The next government will also not invent a redundant bureaucracy like the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, and will generally not toy around with entire agencies according to passing, personal and glaringly immaterial considerations. That is why it will never in its right mind even contemplate restoring the Ministry of Religious Affairs just to make Shas happy, nor will it allow an organization like Nativ, which is intended to handle post-communist Jewry, to spread its wings to a flabbergasted Germany just to make Avigdor Lieberman feel good. Surely, Ehud Olmert's successor will not wage a war with no aims, plans, equipment and commander. It will certainly not expose a third of the country to six weeks' worth of shelling that would damage thousands of homes and displace hundreds of thousands, without verifying that the population is ready to sustain such a challenge, and the army to repel it. Naturally, it won't engage in a devil's dance with Hamas in response to incessant rocket attacks on Israel's internationally recognized borders. Instead, it will strike swiftly, elegantly, suddenly and silently. Babbling, of the sort that for the 31st government's transportation minister was a way of life, will have become a distant memory from an exotic past. For the next administration will not have us shedding tears daily with Karnit Goldwasser and Noam Schalit; it will be too cautious to breed agonies like theirs in the first place, and too clever to be paralyzed in their wake should they still happen. Not only will Israel's 32nd administration be blessed with much better people, and therefore avoid the kind of criminal escapades, political cynicism and military misadventures that have been the hallmark of the 31st, it will also be far more serious as a policy maker. For Israel's next rulers will not allow their education minister to bury a blueprint that would have introduced merit into our school system, and it surely will not have such a plan replaced by a union's vision that rather than eradicate the existing system's substandard management enshrines it, mixing good and bad teachers and raising their pay regardless of performance. Israel's next government will also know how to deal with ultra-Orthodoxy's bullying of the national interest. Unlike the 31st government, it will not surrender to this or that rabbinical circle's insistence that thousands of converts be humiliated, betrayed and stranded on Jewish history's margins. Instead, it will recall Ariel Sharon's exclusion of ultra-Orthodoxy from his cabinet in 2003. Israel's supreme strategic goal for the next decade, he explained back then, is to get here within a decade another million immigrants who declare their Jewishness and are prepared to join us here in our fighting and creation. "The ultra-Orthodox," he said, "are standing in this vision's way." Israel's next government will find it easier to concur with this simple and clear analysis that most of us share, for the prosaic reason that unlike the 31st government it will not be led by someone whose children are oceans away from the battlefields where Israeli patriotism has yet to become an oxymoron. Since Israel's next government will have a clear mind besides its clean heart, it will also not shoot policies from the hip. Its leader will not introduce one morning out of the blue, without consulting any partisan, military, legislative or governmental forum, a sweeping plan for Israel's departure from vast lands. Nor will the next prime minister appoint a justice minister for the sake of sniping aimlessly at the judiciary, without even just informing his own party - never mind consulting it - that he is embarking on yet another crusade, in its name and at its expense. Of course, the next prime minister will harmonize with his or her foreign minister, and never even remotely contemplate not sharing with that Number Two projects like secret talks between the prime minister's personal aides and the representatives of an enemy country. Surely, the next government will hear nothing of restoring the child allotments that Shas is now demanding as ransom for several more weeks of backing for a government that has long lost even the kindergarten population's respect. For the next government will be attentive to the people's modest expectations that its leaders will not ask all day "what's in it for me," that they will not say "who is this nothing, anyhow," that they will not spend their nights vowing "it's me or him" and their days boasting "bring them on," that they will not ask "how much do you want" and that they will have no idea what police investigators seek, what judges ask, how courtrooms look from within and how witnesses sound from without. This is not to say that our next leaders will be perfect, inspiring or even merely well-accomplished. It's just that they will detect the public's loss of faith in its elected leaders, and set out to restore the standards of morality, decency, humility, conscientiousness, impartiality, patriotism and business-mindedness that once went here without saying. Well, hopefully. www.MiddleIsrael.com