I am writing these words at the beginning of Election Day, although this column will be published only after the election has already ended. It’s possible that by then I’ll be portrayed as an amateur who doesn’t understand a thing about what’s going on in Israeli society. Perhaps there will be those who mock me for pretending to understand the mysteries of the political developments that have been rocking our beloved country for quite a few years now.
I’m prepared to take the risk and face this challenge.
At the end of the election for Israel’s 24th Knesset, once all of the ballots have been counted, and all the calculations have been made, and all the double envelopes have been screened, and all the invalid envelopes were discounted, it will become clear what has been known for weeks now – that Netanyahu was the only realistic candidate for prime minister. He and no one else . But he will not form a government. The attempt to unite all the various parties to form a coalition of at least 61 seats will fail.
In order to achieve this goal, a number of unreasonable and dishonest actions that are now part and parcel of the public-political culture of Israel will have to take place. Netanyahu will offer up the State of Israel for sale to the highest bidder. Security, the economy, civil rights, the equal rights of Arab citizens, the need to protect people who are different and especially the LGBT community, the destruction of the environment, the freedom of the media - all will be put up for sale by Netanyahu.
The craziest appointments will be turned into a currency for traders. The size of the government, the allocation of positions and Knesset committees will go into an unparalleled tailspin. And throughout this process, the crook from Balfour Road will continue to lie and deceive. We’ll go to sleep with one proposed government and wake up to a completely different composition. All of the most improbable, most unexpected and most undesirable permutations will pop up and disappear, then return and fade away again.
After a couple months we’ll know what we already know today – Netanyahu is done. He won’t succeed in forming a government. He’ll serve as temporary prime minister until the next election takes place, after which we’ll begin the rehabilitation and recovery from the dangerous, wanton and toxic political virus that Bibi Netanyahu implanted into the country’s nervous system.
How will this work?
Only innocence and wishful thinking of people who are detached from reality can reach the conclusion that our next government could be led by the Likud gang, along with the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) religious communities and nationalists who support the violent hilltop youth together with Naftali Bennett and his followers, and possibly also with the Ra’am Arab party that might pull through with four seats or might fail, as is already clear now, when this column was being printed.
Anyone who deals with statistics and elementary arithmetic can take the number of seats and add them together and see if they come to a crazy, artificial and random number of 61 seats, but even then it will not be possible to form a government.
Lots of programs are being broadcast on all of the TV channels, radio stations and newspaper editorials written by people who are pretending to be scholars, and according to the many of them there can be a combination that all these different elements of the right-wing can form a government. These combinations will fall apart before they are connected . They will conflict with each other before they even start. They will crash before they have a chance to crash us.
THE ELECTION campaign was conducted all along with the feeling, which was reinforced excessively, that Bennett was the key figure who would determine who would become the next prime minister. Bennett is a worthy man. In the past, he was a brave Sayeret Matkal combat soldier who afterward was an aide to the person who was head of the opposition at the time, and later the new star of the religious Zionism camp.
The religious Zionism camp has never been extremist or even nationalistic. For a short time, it got caught up in the messianic rhetoric of a Greater Land of Israel, as have I and many other people who in the meantime managed to forge a new path and life for themselves and find the right direction for the future of the State of Israel. At its core, the religious Zionism fair was responsible, moderate and fair.
Bennett lost his head from the status that he acquired in the twilight hours. Part of his camp deviated to the Right and became much more extremist, nationalistic, which led the dedicated, good and brave ones to head for the hills of Samaria and Judea, to violence toward Palestinians, and to incitement against everyone who had the courage to warn others about the enormous damage that the lack of a political solution with the Palestinians brought and will continue to bring to the health, security and stability of our country.
The shock Bennett and Ayelet Shaked experienced in the first round of the current election series back in April 2019 forced them to take a step back and reevaluate their situation. For a moment, it seemed as if they were soaring toward new heights that could place them at the top of Israel’s political leadership. But it turned out to be a false alarm. Bennett has never been a candidate for prime minister. Ten seats are not a force that is capable of gathering around him a responsible coalition that has the power to connect the fragments that threaten the unity of Israeli society. The results of the election proved this unequivocally.
Now, Bennett needs to recalculate what his path will be. If what he said about Netanyahu represents what he really thinks, if he and Ayelet Shaked are made from the same material that could one day ripen and become ready to accept a high level of responsibility, then they need to break away from the Likud gang. The worn-out slogans about a true right-wing that is conservative and offers economic solutions that will put loads of cash in the pockets of many Israeli citizens have dissipated. Bennett and Shaked could just up and disappear if they don’t decide to act responsibly and modestly and change direction.
The power Yamina holds following this last election is not the power to form a government headed by the crook from Balfour Road, but the power to prevent its formation, and to enact the law necessary to get Israeli democracy back on track, after the Likud gang, the extremist settlers, and messianic rabbis diverted from the correct path.
THE CONCLUSION is that Bennett needs to join Yair Lapid. And Benny Gantz, who has remained active politically, not because he hasn’t made any mistakes or failed, but because he was decent enough to admit his faults and change direction. And Merav Michaeli, who has been recognized for her credibility, courage and honesty. And Meretz and the Joint List, which has explicitly declared its desire to take part in the shaping of the future of the State of Israel as a Jewish-democratic state that respects its minority communities.
It’s clear that a government will not be formed. What appeared to be a shocking threat a few days ago, is the first step to correcting our ways. A fifth round is inevitable. It’s either Bibi or a fifth round. Going to a fifth round is not a desirable situation. It’s the lowest level we could reach, an abyss that only the nationalistic, racist, divisive government led by Netanyahu and Itamar Ben-Gvir could lead us to.
Candidates who are committed to values that the State of Israel cannot exist without will run in a fifth round of elections. Values such as a democracy that upholds equality and tolerance, where the majority cannot and has no desire to trample on the rights of its minorities, including Arabs, Druze and Circassians. Preserving the Jewish character of the state, which is not dictated by the haredim, but also includes members of all the different religious sectors, namely the Reform and Conservative communities. A state where you can be right- or left-wing, homosexual or lesbian, work in hi-tech or be a municipal sanitation worker. A society that provides opportunities for a life that has a chance for quality education that will preserve the power of the country, a society in which there won’t be any families that live below the poverty line and find it difficult to provide basic necessities for their children.
And the most important thing: A country that wants peace with its neighbors, that is willing to take the initiative to achieve this and is prepared to make the painful concessions that will ensure that it takes place.
None of these issues were discussed in the days leading up to the fourth round. The campaign was focused on only one topic: Bibi. So, let’s say no to Bibi and yes to the State of Israel.