Ehud Olmert: Merav Michaeli is the change Israel needs in 2021

I’ve come a long way from being part of Betar, which was founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, from being among the founders of Likud and through all of the positions that I’ve held over the years.

LABOR PARTY leader Merav Michaeli speaks at a party conference in Hod Hasharon on Sunday. (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
LABOR PARTY leader Merav Michaeli speaks at a party conference in Hod Hasharon on Sunday.
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
The upcoming election must end with a clear-cut outcome – an outcome that will enable the formation of a government that will stay intact for more than six months and that will bring back a measure of sanity and stability to our country. That will enable us to deal with all the troubles and difficulties within society that we have been experiencing in this government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A government that caused rifts and hardships in society cannot be the same one that heals it. Therefore, the first goal must be to bring about the removal of the person who currently holds the position as prime minister.
In the eyes of many people, Netanyahu is a dangerous criminal, a man devoid of any moral standards, a sick miser regarding everything connected to his private finances and a wasteful squanderer when it comes to national resources. He cannot even pay for two cups of coffee while out campaigning for the upcoming election. 
There’s always someone stuffing into his back pocket a few bills that probably came from the party’s coffers so that he can appear like any regular guy. But he’s not like other people. He never pays for the presents that he “buys” for himself, for his wife or his children. Neither does he pay for the presents he supposedly purchases for the people of Israel, with the help of his uncle and his family. 
But, Bibi isn’t just a pitiful miser – he’s a contentious instigator. In the past, we faced quite a few confrontations between parties and opposing worldviews. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s greatest leader, incited against Herut and Maki, Israel’s Communist Party, when he said that every coalition was acceptable, unless it included the Herut Party, which was led by Menachem Begin, or the Communist Party under the leadership of Moshe Sneh. There were times when the state security agencies followed and wiretapped rival parties that were in the opposition. 
There were other incidents in later years, too, when election campaigns were rife with violent clashes between Likud and Labor supporters. These clashes led to rifts and hatred between different sections of society, especially during the bitter and violent “Chakh’chakhim” election of 1981. 
Of course, the short history of our country has been rife with conflicts between the religious, secular and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sectors. 
In all of these years, there has never been a prime minister whose central goal and greatest efforts were invested in planned incitement, argumentativeness and a conscious effort to create violent confrontation between the various sectors that make up our society. Except for one: Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu – the miser, actor, narcissist, crook, liar and coward – is first and foremost an inciter and agitator. He’s a cold-blooded quarrel monger who wants to see his political base physically clash with the people who are protesting against him, even if these clashes lead to the spilling of blood. And I allow myself to say that he hopes that blood will be shed. The more blood spilled, the more he believes that he will maintain his powerful position and that his reign will remain intact. 
The slogan that has accompanied each of the last four elections, “Just Not Bibi,” is an abbreviated version of a longer sentence: Just not division; just not hatred; just not incitement; just not abusing state resources for personal needs; just not transferring decision-making power to your crazy wife (regardless of whether there is an agreement or not – everyone sees the reality); just no more quoting tweets made by the deranged son who has yet to earn one penny from a day’s work and who lives on taxpayers’ money and just no breach of trust, fraud and deception on the most sensitive matters, such as purchasing submarines. 
“Just Not Bibi” is the essence of all topics that we want to remove from our national agenda. It would be an error to claim that this struggle is based on hatred and personal jealousies. This is a struggle against hatred and incitement, which are the creation of one individual who is fighting for his life at the expense of ours. 
The question of who you should vote for, therefore, is not so complicated. There’s no need to go into all the minutiae of the political positions or priorities in social matters. 
People on the radical right who do not support Bibi can vote for Gideon Sa’ar and his friends who all fall to the right side of the Likud. They have a significantly different worldview from mine. Therefore, I will not vote for them. But anyone who wants a fair-minded, honest right-wing government that supports a democratic state should vote for Sa’ar, Benny Begin and the rest of their list. 
Anyone who wants a centrist government that is fair, organized and disciplined that can contribute to the stability of society and restore us to normalcy should vote for Yair Lapid. He’s not a friend of mine, and I won’t be voting for his party. However, Lapid has proven that it’s possible to survive these crazy politics with consistency, loyalty to basic principles such as public decency and being willing to pay a heavy price in your personal life to reserve the right to ask for the public’s trust. 
If he’d been willing to sharpen his party’s messages, to take unequivocal stances on weighty political issues and shown a little generosity toward the haredi community and not flip-flop back and forth between extreme hatred and occasional tolerance, it’s possible that by now he’d already have changed the face of the political map. 
Anyone who is angry at and disappointed with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz for the mistakes he made and his lack of judgment will not vote for Blue and White. But anyone who still wants to give another chance to this decent guy who has paid a heavy personal price – perhaps even too heavy – for the dramatic mistake he made, but didn’t give up his integrity and sense of mission, which brought him to politics at a crucial moment in time and that contributed to significant changes on our political map, surely will want to see Benny return to the Knesset, even with fewer seats than he previously had. 
Quite a few people will vote for Avigdor Liberman. I know how he intimidates many people who have become accustomed over the years to hearing accusations about him, that have supported his image as a powerful, violent and unrestrained man. But, anyone who does not indulge in unwarranted hatred needs to vote for Liberman.
He’s been consistent and reliable over these two difficult years and he keeps his word. It’s easy to disagree with some of his positions, but you cannot ignore the fact that perhaps more than any other candidate he’s the one who, with his own body, stopped Netanyahu from forming a stable coalition. Liberman proved that he is more fair, consistent and committed than most of the people who have attacked him. That will certainly stand to his credit in the upcoming election. 
For the first time in my life, I will be voting for the Labor Party. I’ve come a long way from being part of Betar, which was founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, from being among the founders of Likud and through all of the positions that I’ve held over the years. 
This isn’t, however, the proper time to be obsessed with the past. The time has come to show courage, to face the present and prepare ourselves for the challenges of the future. I am choosing Labor because of Merav Michaeli. She is a woman who is honest, consistent, courageous, and has proven it over the last two years. She is determined to bring back the basic values that led to the establishment of the State of Israel and to making it a center of public discourse. 
She’s neither right-wing nor left-wing in my opinion. She’s just an energetic woman who is not a loathsome type of politician. She’s exactly what’s been missing and seemed to have disappeared and gotten lost, and then came back to inspire us once again with her hopefulness.
Michaeli will not be voted in as prime minister in the upcoming election, even with my support, but when she votes in the upcoming Knesset, I will feel that my hand is lifting up right alongside hers.