Saturday, April 01, 2023

The current political situation in Israel feels like “Groundhog Day,” with each election round causing surprise, then frustration and finally cynicism. But just like the Bill Murray character who broke the cycle by changing his behavior, so can we.

We can keep voting the same way we have voted until now, but then it shouldn’t surprise you if no change occurs. Alternatively, we can reevaluate our perspective and learn from previous mistakes. That, perhaps, might bring about a different reality.

Living in a country constantly at war, Israelis are used to placing security high on their list of considerations. But in reality, there is little difference in how different politicians have approached security while in power. Avigdor Lieberman’s policy did not differ much from Naftali Bennett’s, or Netanyahu’s from Lapid’s. Each had the same considerations and each received dictates from the security establishment.

The economy is another worrying issue, but no party has so far made any exciting announcements on the matter. The magic solutions that politicians talk about to lure in potential voters have already been tried and failed or are already being implemented.

The only essential difference between the parties is political. If the U.S. pressures Israel, be it on evacuations or settlement building, the left will cave in. The right has more leverage. As you have probably noticed, I do not use the words “principles” or “ideology.” The incessant election rounds have proved that very few politicians still possess them.

Therefore, before the November 1 election, we should think about what officials would do under pressure. Would they cross the red line? Would Haredi lawmakers resign if an LGBTQ law is introduced? Or if a future Palestinian state is discussed?

Another particularly disturbing matter is the connection between religion and state. Former Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana’s reforms were supposed to redeem all aspects of the issue: kashrut, burial, marriage and divorce, LGBTQ and the treatment of women. Had he succeeded in implementing his plan, Israel would be a different place today.

Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party appeals to many right-wing voters, because it includes religious lawmakers Ze’ev Elkin and Kahana. The problem is that they have joined Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, who openly support the establishment of a Palestinian state.

I say this with sorrow: If the ideological gaps are of no concern for them, it is not ideology that leads them.

By Karni Eldad/Israel Hayom via JNS


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