When Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi took the dramatic step of joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a coalition, I thought I would implode from disappointment and anger. I felt like they had pulled one over on me. During the three election campaigns that took place between April 2019 and March 2020, I took advantage of every opportunity to declare on TV, in newspaper columns and on every radio show that I support Blue and White. I called upon every Israeli who believed there was a vital need for change in our country to vote for Gantz and Ashkenazi. I proclaimed that I would be voting for them. In every way possible I could think of, I tried to convince voters that this was the most responsible and correct way to vote. It was no secret that I was not an active participant in the elections, that I had no personal interests.
I’m not a member nor a candidate of any political party, and considering my personal circumstances, I never will be. It was not a given that I expressed my support for Blue and White as I was not close to any of its leaders. Yair Lapid had cut off contact with me years ago. I had not spoken with Moshe Ya’alon since he claimed that the last few days of the Second Lebanon War were a corrupt media spin that were carried out just so we could have used it as a victory image. I felt that these harsh words were said by a person who was still bitter about not having his term as IDF chief of staff extended by Ariel Sharon. And yet, I have no doubt that Ya’alon is a decent and ethical person, however he is not a political leader. Despite the complete disconnect between me and Ya’alon and Lapid, I still publicly encouraged people to vote for them as well as for Gantz and Ashkenazi – both of whom I know well, even though I didn’t have any specific connection with them at that time.
I admit, I was angry and disappointed when they joined Netanyahu’s government.
The gravest mistake they made was refusing to remove Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser from Blue and White’s list, since the two of them are right wingers. It was clear that, when the time came, they might not give their support if the Joint List were to join any political move. Because of this, and because they are people who are known to keep their commitments, they had no place being on the Blue and White list in the first place. Why they insisted on remaining on this list and not, for example, joining Bayit Yehudi or Yamina, is a question they have yet to answer. How was it that Lapid, Ashkenazi and Gantz were blind to the fact that Hendel and Hauser were not really with them? As I explained already, Gantz made a mistake. We were right to be concerned that Gantz’s lack of experience and the fact that he’s not manipulative like so many Israeli politicians would lead to his possible downfall.
But what would have happened if Gantz and Ashkenazi had not joined Netanyahu and rather leave him on his own as a prime minister? Our country would have looked today completely different in a way that would have disrupted our lives, shaken the country and led us into unexpected situations from which there might not, heaven forbid, have been a way back.
Let’s take for example, the unilateral annexation, or heaven forbid a far-reaching military operation against Syria, Iran or Hezbollah. All of these are legitimate targets, and all three of them pose a real threat to Israel’s security and require the highest levels of readiness and vigilance.
But what would we have done if we had not had responsible leaders like Gantz and Ashkenazi in our government, with much more military and security related experience than Netanyahu? What could have happened and what price might we have had to pay as a country, a society and as a nation if there had not been individuals there to stop the distraught lunatic from dragging us into untenable situations?
What would have happened if Gantz had not appointed Avi Nissenkorn as justice minister, and if Nissenkorn had not been a worthy, solid and determined person who knew how to prevent harm to the legal establishment. If it were not for Gantz, Ashkenazi and Nissenkorn, the State of Israel would look very different than it does today. And unfortunately, the country is different now than it should be, thanks to the gang led by the crime family on Balfour Street that is still in charge.
The enthusiasm with which people are trying to trample Gantz is not acceptable. I am angry that he disappointed us at the crucial moment that could have tipped the scales of the political system. Nevertheless, Gantz displayed rare courage at the beginning, when nobody else was willing to expose or open themselves up to the Likud and messianic Right’s firing squads.
Gantz showed fortitude when he stood next to Netanyahu as the alternate prime minister and stood steadfast under the barrage of fire from extremist elements backing Netanyahu without hesitation in order to protect the values for which our country stands.
INSTEAD OF trying to demolish what is left over from Gantz, I recommend to all the purists and moralists to join forces against the radical right-wing extremists and stop the rise of fascism among Netanyahu’s partners, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, a confirmed Kahanist, who are threatening to climb to the top of the mountain. While many people are busy explaining to us how much Gantz disappointed his supporters, Netanyahu is deceiving us with his new partners – Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, the hilltop youth and the bullies on the Likud’s Knesset list – who could tomorrow end up in key government positions.
Every boundary and redline that has ever been drawn in Israeli politics is being crossed right at this moment. The person who released more than 1,000 Hamas assassins in order to bring Gilad Schalit back home, and who broke every promise ever made, including not negotiating with terrorists who have “blood on their hands” (according to his definition), has now completely fallen off the deep end with the ludicrous release of D, an Israeli woman who decided she’d rather live in Syria with someone she loves (her words).
The subservience to the Russians is shown in the exorbitant price we paid in order to supply Syria with vaccines. (We won’t give to the Palestinians, but we will to the Syrians?) It is not only that: the dramatic secrecy, having all the government ministers sign secrecy documents, phone calls to Russian President Vladimir Putin, sending the head of national security to Russia again and again, private planes, the offer to release security prisoners and send them to Syria even though they themselves do not want to go back. All of this in order to rescue someone who hiked into Syria of her own free will and doesn’t know any secrets of value?
A person would have to be clinically diagnosed as manic to do all of these things. Either that, or he has something very disturbing that he’s trying to hide, that would explain Netanyahu’s motivation for acting in this way, especially considering how the power to censor information is being abused to hide what really happened.
THIS STORY is just a hint of what could have happened if Gantz had not been the alternate prime minister for the last eight months. And this is the kind of behavior we can expect in the intervening period between the upcoming election and the formation of a new government – hopefully headed by someone else – if Gantz isn’t there to keep us safe and prevent catastrophes from taking place.
It’s clear that everything would have been different if Hendel and Hauser had been willing eight months ago to vote in favor of the bill that would have prevented Netanyahu from continuing to serve as prime minister. On the other hand, everything could also have been completely different if Gantz and Ashkenazi had left Bibi alone in the transitional government, in which he would have been free to wreak havoc and destroy everything that is important and precious to all of us.
So, please leave Gantz alone. There are many more important things that need to be done instead of persecuting this decent man, as he struggles to prevent the crook from Balfour Street from receiving the chance to continue with his exploits.
The writer was the country’s 12th prime minister.