Sunday, May 30, 2021

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

Naftali Bennett - the next prime minster of Israel? (TOI)
For the first time in many years, it seems like Benjamin Netanyahu may soon be out of a job. From the Jerusalem Post

Barring last-minute unforeseen circumstances, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett will announce in a meeting with his faction on Sunday that he has agreed to form a coalition government with Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, sources in the faction who spoke to Bennett told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night.

Bennett informed Lapid of his decision on Friday. They agreed that Bennett would serve first as prime minister until September 2023, after which Lapid would take over until the term ends in November 2025. But sources in Yamina said there are still some disputes with Yesh Atid that remain unresolved.

Final coalition deals will be signed by Monday and submitted to the Knesset. The swearing-in ceremony could take place as early as Wednesday... 

Ethics mean very little to Israeli politicians it seems. at least not as much as political power. That is the only way this unholy potential coalition can be explained.  It is more than obvious that principles have little to do with this pact with the devil. (Who that devil is in this deal depends o which side of the political aisle one is on.) But clearly this coalition would never happen if it were based on political ideology.  The 2 principle coalition partners could not be too much farther apart. The sole purpose of this coalition  to get rid of Netanyahu. 

Naftali Bennett’s right wig party stands for settling all parts of Israel - including all of the West Bank. Lapid’s left of center party believes in a two state solution.  That Lapid is willing to make Bennett the Prime Minister first in a rotation agreement tells you just how much they hate Netanyahu. And how much they crave power.  

Ethics? What ethics?! Hatred of Netanyahu apparently transcends ethics. Which is ironically why they claim Netanyahu is unfit to lead the country. They say he is unethical. (Takes one to know one, I guess.) 

It is true that Netanyahu has lied to his colleagues so many times that no one trusts him anymore. That is what unites them. 

But what about the voters? I’m not so sure they are on the same page with respect to Netanyahu. At least not enough to remove him from office.

Clearly a lot of voters do hate him. But just as clearly- not all. More people voted for his party than for any other party.  Those who hate him - hate him more for his politics than his ethics - or lack of them. All the cries about his corruption is just a cover for why they really hate him. 

The left hates him because he is a right winger. And many on the right hate him because he is not right wing enough. But that hated has not filtered down to the typical voter. That is demonstrated by his consistent success at the polls where he gets a plurality of votes. 

I believe that a lot of Israeli voters will vote for a party because of who they want to see as their Prime Minister. If that is true, Netanyahu got nearly double the amount of votes in the last election than his closest rival. There is a reason for that. A reason that overlooks Netanyahu’s politically ‘double-crossing’ ways. 

I think I understand why that is. 

Like him or not - he has had a steady hand running the country for a long time. I know that there are a lot of people on both sides of the political aisle (and on both side of the Atlantic) that will vehemently disagree with that and absolutely can’t sand him. But as I said, I think that is for a variety of reasons that are mostly political or just plain dislike of his arrogant style of leadership. The point is that he got to be PM because he got more votes by far then anyone else and was always in the best position to form a coalition with like minded smaller parties. 

He may have technically violated Israeli law by accepting gifts as prime minster. But I believe it is exceedingly rare to find someone so ethically pure that no dirt can be found on them. It’s nice to be ethically pure and support only ethically pure candidates. But in the world of real politics if the ethical lapses are relatively small you choose your leaders based on the best interests of the country. 

Netanyahu may have been a liar who never kept his word to his colleagues. But to the best of my knowledge he didn’t lie to the public when it came to polices that mattered to them. Meanwhile he led his country out of socialism into a free market economy; kept Israel strong both militarily, and economically; and had a foreign policy that made peace with four Muslim countries. All of that is why he lasted this long.  

I for one will be sorry to see Netanyahu go.  I cannot imagine a bigger policy shift than what will happen when Bennet gives up power to Lapid at the end of that first year. Whatever his flaws - you knew what you got with Netanyahu. Who knows what Bennett and Lapid will be like?! Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.