Why Blue and White is the logical choice for Anglo voters

Benny Gantz was personally involved in all of our lives.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is seen during the preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset on December 2, 2020. (photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/YEDIOT AHARONOT/POOL)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is seen during the preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset on December 2, 2020.
Recently, Gil Hoffman ran a story suggesting that all of Israel’s political parties “tell Anglo voters not to vote for them.”
Hoffman is one of Israel’s most thoughtful political commentators, but I would argue that this time, he got it wrong. There is one party, Blue and White, which actually offers a natural home to English-speaking immigrants – veteran and new. Here’s why.
Let me start with a personal testimonial. Way back in the previous century, I moved to Israel from the States on my 20th birthday. Within 33 days, I found myself an infantry soldier in the IDF. My company commander in the paratroopers was the youngest officer to reach this rank in the history of the brigade – Benny Gantz. Along with me was a ragtag group of new immigrants, about half of whom were Anglos, trying to keep up with the rapid-fire Hebrew and master the rapid-fire machine guns.
Gantz made it his personal mission to see that all the new immigrants under his command completed the grueling training regime. Depending on what the situation called for, he would alternately berate at us and console us. Even those Anglos who hardly spoke Hebrew (and there were several) were given a buddy who translated for them, so they knew when they should toss the grenade or jump out of the airplane.
Gantz was personally involved in all of our lives. When my sister decided to get married in Boston with a week’s notice, he somehow found a way for me to get on a plane and be there. It worked. Every one of us finished the advanced training and donned the red beret. Today, most of us are still living in Israel.
It should not be surprising, therefore, that when Gantz established a political party, he took special interest in immigration and immigrants in general – and the Anglo-Saxon community in particular. Just consider a few basic facts:
His No. 2 candidate in this year’s elections, the indefatigable Pnina Tamano-Shata, has been an exceptional aliyah and integration minister, taking advantage of her brief year of tenure to implement a decade’s worth of reforms.
As someone who made the long trek from Ethiopia to Israel when she was three, naturally she addressed the many pressing needs of Israel’s Ethiopian community. But she didn’t stop there. Among her innumerable interventions that specifically benefited Anglo immigrants were reducing unreasonable demands on young doctors who wish to make aliyah from English-speaking countries, helping small businesses run by immigrants, and expanding support for Hebrew training during the Covid crisis.
From its inception, Blue and White has had a disproportionately large representation of Anglos among its leadership.
For most of the year, Michal Cotler-Wunsh was a Blue and White parliamentarian. She delivered, assiduously addressing many challenges facing English-speaking immigrants.
If you go back a generation, then Chili Tropper, the iconic educational leader and now Blue and White minister of culture and sport, hails from an all-American home. Blue and White minister and former Yeroham mayor Michael Biton is married to Ilana, the daughter of an American Conservative rabbi.
BUT THE real reason that Anglos should vote for Blue and White has nothing to do with our powerful Anglo DNA. The real reason is that we constitute the only party with the commitment to decency, moderation and inclusion that is so desperately needed to bring harmony to our increasingly polarized nation.
We all know that Gantz “fell on the proverbial grenade” when he decided to join Netanyahu in a unity government, given the unprecedented health and economic crises. But at that time, the last thing the country needed was a fourth round of elections. As expected, Gantz did the right thing, rather than opting for political convenience. He put the country first.
I have heard all the cynical, disparaging critiques about Gantz’s naiveté. But for me, his record during the past year is extraordinary and reflects the best of Anglo-American values: an uncompromising commitment to preserving the judiciary and Supreme Court independence; preventing unilateral annexation while maintaining the prospects of peacefully resolving the conflict with Palestinians. And, as defense minister, he oversaw the safest year in Israel’s history.
No less important, he showed that even in Israel, top national leaders can have integrity. And that is something that goes far beyond tokenism; that is simply leadership.
The writer is a Tel Aviv University professor and veteran environmental activist. He is running on Blue and White’s slate for the 24th Knesset.