So you want the coalition to fail. And then?
I do not understand what all the jubilation is about. Last night there was a rightwing demonstration in which there was joyful anticipation of the fall of the current coalition government. In fact, that was the openly stated purpose of the demonstration. And the fact that Netanyahu gave a speech makes me wonder how much he was its orchestator.
But first, Idit Silman: she did not go home as Bibi victoriously pronounced — she was already home. Home is Israel. It is not a political party.
Why did she abandon the coalition of which she was chair? It was likely not because of chametz in hospitals, the reason she openly gave. If it was, could Horowitz have prevented the breakdown of the only coalition government in which he can ever hope to take part?
Some say that was only the last straw in what she saw as a relinquishment of the policies and values of Yamina, the party on whose list she ran in the election that got her into the Knesset. She said that she could no longer abide by the abandonment of her core values. However, I find myself in agreement with an editorial in the leftwing news site, Haaretz, that questions her values, her moral stance:
A moral person does not drag an entire country back to the political dead-end it had barely managed to escape from less than a year ago. A moral person does not create government paralysis, preventing it from advancing laws and reforms and functioning normally. A moral person does not prevent a country, once again, from passing a budget.
A moral person does not impose another round of elections, or even more than one, on a country that has not yet recovered from four previous rounds. A moral person does not sell out her party colleagues and coalition in return for a safe spot on another party’s Knesset slate and a promise to be appointed a minister.
Perhaps her decision was because of the apparently inordinate pressure she was under on the parts of her husband and her religious community that did not approve of the coalition she helped build. Some say her husband and children were being bullied by the community until she had to do something to protect them. And what does that say about us, all of us?
It may have been because of promises of a ministerial position on the part of Bibi, and if that is so, that is a real shame because Bibi is not known to keep promises (although giving her a ministerial position may be easier to keep than a rotation with Gantz — God forbid — the rotation with Gantz, I mean. I was not sorry to see that promise broken.) Bibi welcomed Silman “home,” back to the “real right.” As if Bibi ever represented the “real right.” The “real right” is most likely Smotrich and Ben Gvir. And they missed their opportunity to have more impact on what goes on in this country when they refused to join the coalition.
There are those who celebrate Silman’s jumping ship as the nail that will close the coffin on this highly unlikely and very unstable coalition. This is no moment of joy for me.
I remember the relief I felt when the coalition actually got off the ground. It was a relief to be able to talk more easily with my leftwing friends as we were wishing success to the same coalition government. There was an atmosphere of hope.
In contrast, many of my rightwing friends were horrified and felt betrayed by the fact that Ra’am and Meretz (and to a lesser extent Labour as well) were in the same government with Yamina. Many of them, as well as many Likudnik friends, called Bennett an usurper, an illegitimate prime minister who had the gall to sit himself in the PM’s chair with only 7 mandates behind him. They were ignoring the fact that such a phenomenon is perfectly legitimate within the electoral system we are forced to live with.
It was a relief to finally have a government that promised to bring order to the chaos of the successive four rounds of elections that brought indecisive results and no budget. It was a coalition that promised to pursue concrete policies and work toward the betterment of our domestic situation and set aside issues concerning our conflict with the Palestinian Authority, accepting the status quo for the present time.
This was mostly respected except by the Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, who imagines himself another Rabin and was conducting himself as if he alone could usher in peace by helping create a Palestinian state that had never before existed in history, ignoring the fact that such a state would present very real security dangers, something that as Defense Minister he should understand. Had Smotrich and Ben Gvir joined the coalition, they could have had more power to help curb Gantz’s perilous behaviours than all their shouting from the sidelines could ever do. But they were in the previous caretaker governments with Gantz as Defense Minister and I did not see them even shouting about what he was doing back then nevermind doing something to hold him back. This makes me think that perhaps their bark is worse than their bite and they may just be ineffectual yapping dogs in fact.
Gantz was my biggest problem with the current coalition government. I had other issues that concerned me. Bennett made mistakes, for sure, and continues to do so. The expenditures on renovating his Raanana home is a huge issue for me, for example. Huge. And incomprehensible. I am also not happy about Yair Lapid rotating into the prime minister position. But overall, I do believe this has been a working government.
In the words of the Haaretz editorial:
This government is a government of compromises, between left and right, Jews and Arabs. But in reality, those who have more often compromised their positions are the parties of the left and the Arab Knesset members, . . .
Everything that is truly important to the left, and in strategic terms also for the United Arab List [Ra’am], was stored away in the political attic. No one touched the Nation State Law. The Citizenship Law passed without bringing down the government. The Palestinians were asked to go missing in order to preserve the coalition. The left sat by quietly.
So first we had “Just not Bibi” and now we have “Just not this coalition” or “Just not Bennett.” When I was a teenager joining protests in Canada my mother would say: “I can see what you are against, but what are you FOR?” So now I am asking the demonstrators and those who are shouting out for the downfall of the government: “What are you FOR? What is your alternative? What do you want to see happen?”
Just saying what you do not want is so easy. Let’s see your plan, your vision, your strategies for making that happen. Convince me that there is something better than the current crazy implausible coalition of mismatched people who I see as trying to make concrete efforts to improve our daily lives. Show me you can turn back the clock on the decade-old negligence that created the problems in Judea-Samaria and the Negev that only now you see fit to shout out about.
And what I would like to see happen? Not likely, but I would like to see Smotrich (if not Ben Gvir) actually join the current coalition rather than work at pulling it down. I would like to see them put their shoulders to the wheel and push from the inside toward resolutions of the problems that plague us. It should not really be a problem to sit together with Meretz and Ra’am; after all, our entire Judaic tradition is a tradition of argument. Since when did we have to agree with each other to be able to work together?
The one thing we all agree with is that we love this country and we want to see it prosper. I do really believe that. (Even Ra’am, perhaps.)