First, correction of a typo in my last posting: I wrote, “Had Israel existed in the 1930s, we would not have lost 6,000 of our people in the Shoah.” But – yikes! – I inadvertently dropped three zeroes and apologize for this. Let no Holocaust denier claim that I said it was not six million.
As to the question of who knows which way is up: There is a WHOLE lot of confusion, not just in Israel, but around the world, with regard to this.
While I make light of it, just a tad, to help us all keep our sanity, in reality this dysfunction is no laughing matter.
The person here at home who is the most confused – suffering most severely from directional dysfunction, as it were – is Avigdor Lieberman; and I do not make this observation with any generosity of spirit.
Lieberman imagines himself to be the person in control with regard to formation of a government, and, at least until very recently, he has given the impression of reveling in his presumed power.
But he has lost it. It is not clear that he even knows any longer what he wants to accomplish. Consider:
He has come out with “demands” he has placed on Likud and Blue and White. He would join Blue and White, he indicated, if it adhered to President Rivlin’s proposal for a modified unity government. But in that event, no one would need Lieberman.
On the other hand, he would join Likud if it separated itself from the haredi parties. This is something Netanyahu has no intention of doing. In any event, there would be no gain to Likud – as the haredi parties have almost double the mandates of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu.
And then again, he indicated that if Likud were to be uncooperative, he might join with Gantz and help make a minority coalition with Arab support from the opposition. But the Arabs have already said they would not support any government that included Lieberman.
It is exceedingly unlikely to happen, but see here for an explanation of how a minority government would work:
All in all, the picture is not a pretty one.
The tragedy is that if Lieberman truly had the interests of the nation, and not his own presumed interests, at heart, he would join with Likud and there would be a governing coalition.
The only real political news is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has appointed Naftali Bennett to be Minister of Defense. He was approved by the Cabinet on Sunday. This is an interim position, but I do not know when I’ve seen Bennett looking so happy:
Bennett, who has long coveted this position, will be a very good defense minister for the duration. This is in spite of the fact that Netanyahu’s reasons for appointing him were purely political:
Gantz had been attempting to break apart the rightwing bloc by luring the New Right, a faction of Yamina, to join Blue and White. And so Netanyahu took action to prevent erosion of his bloc. He met with Bennett, chair of the New Right, on Friday. In addition to the appointment of Bennett as defense minister (an appointment blessed by Yamina head Ayelet Shaked), it was announced that Likud and the New Right would form a joint faction for the duration of the current – 22nd – Knesset, and would be working together.
Shaked made it clear that this was not a merger of the two parties, which each remained independent.
We have less than two weeks until Gantz’s mandate to form a government runs out. There are other options before heading to a third election, and somehow – is this a hope born of desperation? – I believe a solution will emerge at the 11th hour. Our politicians know that the people of Israel will not be forgiving if their inability to form a government sends the country back to the polls yet again.
Before moving to other issues, I want to share an article. I have written before about the fact that I am convinced the investigative proceedings against Prime Minister Netanyahu that may result in an indictment are politically motivated. Here you have a brief description of those charges, and the weaknesses inherent in them. More than weaknesses in the cases against the prime minister, the charges themselves are a threat to democracy and the nature of a free press.
One of those cited here, Prof. Avi Bell, a member of the defense team, is someone whose opinion I deeply respect:
A week ago Friday, November 1, in the evening, Israel was once again bombarded by rockets coming out of Gaza. Ten rockets were launched at our south, in two separate barrages – eight were intercepted by Iron Dome and one fell in an open field. The tenth hit a home in Sderot, causing considerable damage; thank Heaven, there were no injuries.
When tallying “damage,” however, it is important to recognize the emotional/psychological burden for those Israelis who live in the area of these attacks. In this regard, a report about a severely traumatized five-year-old Tahel Dahan, who lives in Sderot, went viral. When a siren goes off, she hunkers down on the floor in a fetal position, frozen in place, shaking and refusing to move.
During the course of the night, Israel responded with air attacks on a number of military targets inside of Gaza: military compounds, training compounds, weapons productions sites, etc. One Gazan was killed.
Reportedly over 100 sites were hit, but this sort of action does is not impressive: It inflicts only very moderate damage on Hamas and does little to change the basic equation. In fact, these attacks are not actually intended to do serious damage, as that might trigger an escalation. They are intended primarily as a warning, which is why terrorists in the area are allowed to leave before action is taken.
At one time I would have railed against this half-action, which does not weaken Hamas. While I still think more might be done, at the moment I get it:
There is an effort to avoid escalating the situation with Hamas because there are far more serious threats confronting us that require focus elsewhere. I have been writing for some time about the increasing threats from the north, and that situation continues to deteriorate.
We have been warned that Iran is increasingly emboldened to act in the region. There were no serious consequences for Iran either with regard to its attacks on international oil tankers or its attack on a major Saudi petroleum facility. And the US is pulling back in Syria, lending the impression that Iran may be able to act with impunity.
In late October, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi (pictured) warned that “the situation is tense and precarious and poised to deteriorate into a conflict despite the fact that our enemies are not interested in war.”
Security Cabinet meetings have been called to discuss this situation, and the prime minister has warned that Iran is seeking the means to launch missiles against Israel from Yemen.
Add to this the fact that Iran, openly and defiantly breaching the terms of the Iran deal, is now enriching uranium at 5%. Less than a week ago, Netanyahu declared (emphasis added):
”Iran expands its aggression everywhere. It seeks to envelop Israel. It seeks to threaten Israel. It seeks to destroy Israel…
“I repeat here once again: We will never let Iran develop nuclear weapons. This is not only for our security and our future; it’s for the future of the Middle East and the world.”
And all of this is before I mention the unrest in Lebanon right now, and in Iraq, where Iran has a hand in attempting to quell the violence.
And what’s happening with our erstwhile leaders here in Israel? They are so consumed with partisan politics and political animosities that they cannot put together a government and garner all necessary strength to protect Israel and act with alacrity.
Yes, this is a case of not knowing which way is up. But it’s more: it’s a busha, a disgrace. I say this with a heavy heart.
See Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) on this subject:
Israel is blessed with many, many good people – people who do think of others and know precisely which way is up. It buoys us when we keep them in mind, and in the end we will be saved because of them:
Meet David, who is a paratrooper in the IDF. In his free time, volunteers as a medical clown.
And Esther Wachsman. It is now 25 years since her son, Nachshon Wachsman, was kidnapped and killed by terrorists. At an event marking the day, last Thursday, Esther spoke, providing inspiration for us all (emphasis added):
“I tell the Jewish people that as much as I almost collapsed at that time and all I wanted was to get into bed and put the blanket over my head, I had six other children that needed their mother. I made two weddings and a bar mitzvah that year. There are two words that I want to tell everybody and maybe you can learn from me: ‘I chose life.'”
Blessing upon her.
Nachshon’s father, Yehuda, also had important words in remembering the loss of his son 25 years ago (emphasis added):
“While Nachshon was in captivity, many people went to the Western Wall – of all denominations, religious and secular – and prayed for his rescue. There was great unity among the Jewish people.
“This is what I wanted our leaders to learn from this – that we must unite in order to establish a government in the near future – to remember the era of Nachshon.”
Last Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the Knesset:
“Israel has received many requests for assistance, mainly in the diplomatic and humanitarian realm. We identify with the deep distress of the Kurds, and we are assisting them through a range of channels…We are proud of our taking a stand alongside the Kurdish people.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.