The Israeli political world is making headlines every hour, and I’m sure you are confused. So, sit down, relax, and let me explain exactly what’s happening.
The guy who won Israel’s most recent election, really lost, but that’s because he’s not really a guy! (Whoops, that wasn’t politically correct.) Let me rephrase that: If I were to ask you, “Who won the last round of elections?” – you would answer “Bibi”… but that’s not true because “Bibi” wasn’t running. Huh? Let me continue.
The most powerful force in Israeli politics today is the “anti-Bibi” camp or, as they like to call themselves, The Camp for Change. These politicians – Lapid, Sa’ar, Lieberman, Bennett, Gantz (among others) – have vowed that they will not sit in a coalition government led by Mr. Netanyahu. This is the same Netanyahu who made Gantz the Defense Minister – a position he still holds today. This is the same Netanyahu who, a few years back, made Bennett the Education Minister and the Economy Minister and the Diaspora Affairs Minister and the Defense Minister. Bibi also made Lapid the Finance Minister, Lieberman the Foreign Minister and Sa’ar the Education Minister plus the Interior Minister. That’s right: The dreaded, hated, evil Bibi took these nobody politicians and turned them into nobody Ministers! (Whoops, that’s also not politically correct.) Let me rephrase that: Without Netanyahu, you would have probably never heard of people like Lieberman and Lapid; but they hate him. Huh?
The final “Huh?” will undoubtedly come from the fact that in Israeli politics, right is right during elections, but right becomes left after elections. To prove my point, here is an exact (translated) quote from Naftali Bennett: “I will never lend my hand to setting up a government led by Yair Lapid, not even on a rotation basis, simply because I am from the Right wing and he is from the Left wing. I will never work against my own values.” Yet, as you are reading these words, Bennett is indeed lending his hand to setting up a government led by Lapid. But didn’t he say he would never do that? Easy my friend; he said that because he is Right and Lapid is Left, but now that elections are over, Right becomes Left so they are really the same! Understand? Huh?
Okay, let me explain. The most recent Knesset elections were held on March 23. The reason I wrote that Bibi wasn’t running was because of a simple fact: Israeli elections are held between political parties – not between people. Nobody voted for – or against – Bibi; they voted for – or against – the Likud party. Yes, Bibi Netanyahu is the head of Likud’s Knesset list but he was not running separately – and this is the problem. In order to form a government, a minimum number of 61 Knesset members need to join a united coalition. That number has been impossible to reach because many different Knesset factions refuse to enter a coalition with Likud if it is led by Netanyahu. They have stated repeatedly, “We have no problem with Likud; it’s Bibi we can’t stand!” However, since Likud has no intention of dumping the man who brought them to power all these years, the stalemate goes on.
What exactly lies at the center of the “anybody but Bibi” camp? As stated above, the leaders of all these parties owe their political careers to this man – so why do they hate him so much? Has he done such a terrible job? Israel’s economy is soaring, despite the coronavirus, and the Shekel is officially the strongest currency in the world. Bibi was strong during the Obama years and has shown equal strength during the early days of the Biden administration. New roads have been and are continuing to be built across the country, and the overwhelming majority of people praised Bibi’s leadership during the pandemic. Would Yair Lapid or Naftali Bennett have acted differently? Of course not! They would be a carbon copy of everything that Bibi has done, so why the hate? Simple – and my previous sentence answered the question! They would be a carbon copy and not the original.
Lapid, Bennet, Sa’ar, Lieberman, Gantz, and the others are fully aware that they offer no alternative whatsoever. They have the same ideology, the same “place among the nations” vision, and the same dream of coexisting with the Arabs. The only change this “Camp of Change” offers is the guy sitting in the Prime Minister’s seat. They do not come with a plan of massive aliyah – which the Jewish world needs now – nor do they come with plans to defeat Hamas. They are not interested in increasing the Torah learning in schools nor do they have creative ideas in the field of health, housing, or transportation. They will continue every one of Bibi’s policies with one change: the policies YES! The Bibi NO!
It is for this reason why I refuse to call these guys “The Camp for Change” and call them instead “The Camp for Hate,” because that is exactly what they are – and why they will fail. Throughout history, revolutions based on hate never succeeded. Don’t get me wrong: Israel definitely needs many changes in order to become the strong and proud Jewish State it was destined to be; but it will not come through the hands of the Lapid-Bennett tag team.
So where does that leave us? The simple people following the news: What do we need to do? Here’s the answer: Let them play their games and make their speeches. The Jewish Nation will thrive in Eretz Yisrael despite the weak leaders we have, so don’t pay too much attention to them! We will continue to build homes, yeshivos, and communities. We will plant hundreds of thousands of fruit trees, start new businesses, and do everything we can to bring our brothers and sisters home. Politics needs to become like sports: You have a team/candidate you prefer but – at the end of the day – whether you win or lose, you must still go to work and get your job done. Let’s stay focused and build our beloved country regardless of what happens in the Knesset, the United Nations, or Washington, DC. And remember: Whether it’s Prime Minister Netanyahu or Prime Minister Lapid, it’s always Am Yisrael Chai!
Shmuel Sackett is a 100% product of Queens. He was born in Middle Village and moved to KGH shortly before his bar-mitzvah. He graduated from YCQ (1975) and YHSQ (1979). He was Havurat Yisrael’s first Youth Director (4 years) and started the first 2 NCSY chapters in Queens. Shmuel made aliyah in 1990 and co-founded Manhigut Yehudit, together with Moshe Feiglin. His website is www.JewishIsrael.org Sackett is married with 6 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Herziliya Pituach.