"I am ripper... tearer... slasher... gouger... I am the teeth in the darkness, the talons in the night. Mine is strength and lust and power! I AM BEOWULF!" Benny Gantz, to himself, moments before launching his election campaign in January 2019
When I first laid eyes on Benny Gantz, back in February 2011, I swear I could faintly hear a lonesome harmonica howling away on a distant wind. I thought, "This isn’t the next chief of staff, it’s the Man With No Name."
Flanked on both sides by Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak (who has since lost weight and sprouted facial plumes) as they sleeved his lieutenant general epaulettes, they in fact looked like the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Gazing upon on him, still clad in my army khaki, brimming with militant masculinity, I rested a grizzled palm on the butt of my rifle and I wished he was my daddy.
Four years and merely one war later, he was no longer our Israeli Defense Father. Gantz sauntered off to ride horses with, I imagined, a buxom blonde woman who greeted him every day at the door by fainting at the sight of his baby blue eyes.
My heart was broken. But we all held on to a little hope in our hearts, and that hope was shaped like a bullet.
- Fact-check: Did Netanyahu challenger Benny Gantz really kill 1,364 'terrorists' in Gaza?
- Lieberman’s 'Up Yours' campaign slogan will target Arabs, leftist demons and Netanyahu
- Netanyahu's party escalates attack on media with billboard blasting journalists
- Forget Netanyahu. Israelis have fallen in love with an incoherent kind of centrism
For years Gantz teased us, with his cocked hips and crooked smile, as he walked towards and away from sunsets. Will he do it? Will he save us from the demonic reign of the Netanyahus, whose appetite for power is only exceeded by their inability to pay for their own meals?
Will he realize his role as heir apparent, a Yitzhak Rabin reborn from the acrid ashes of the Oslo Accords and assassination? Would he finally put an end to this "will they, won’t they" and step up to be the Ross to Israel’s Rachel?
Then, after years of speculation and one too many loser stepfathers, the gauntlet was finally laid down. IDF Daddy was coming home.
Netanyahu plays it dismissive, but the fear is there. He knows a gorgeous general is a threat. This also sent shivers down the spine of tiny dancer Yair Lapid, another handsome contender capable of emitting great swathes of speech without saying anything at all.
"I believe things are stuff, and they should be so, but also other things. This has to continue stopping, and together we will make it better by keeping it the same but different, someday in the future, which exists tomorrow, which is the future, and that doesn’t exist. BDS, Bob Dylan, sexiness, security, Ernest Hemingway," he said, on the day he was born.
However, it’s not all about looks. The jungles of Israeli politics are fickle and prickly, as opinions change by the minute and everyone’s a prick. It’s enough to make one lose his mind, trying to navigate through the uniform nagging of Likudnik gnats, while centrist snakes wriggle and writhe 'round your feet, biding their time for the right (or left) moment to strike.
Up above in the thicket, the beshtreimeled capuchins wield an unruly electorate as they hoot and hurl rotten fruit, and then somewhere, in the silence of the swaying branches, you can sense the languid gestures of the liberal lefty sloths, wagging their flaccid fingers in disapproval. "We dunno what we want," they say, "but we don’t want it anyway." Then they hang upside down and let the moss grow on their lazy, furry bodies.
I, for one, did not mind Gantz’s prolonged political silence, and watching his first campaign videos shows he realizes what must be done to emerge victorious from this choking labyrinth: You must rise above it all so you can burn it all down with napalm.
"Israel before everything. Only the strong prevails. I kill mucho Arabs, green means army, army means strength, Star of David in yo’ face!"
The Left was mortified. They shuddered at Gantz's pride in the rising tally of the Palestinian dead, and winced as the counter on the screen clocks up 6,231 Gaza targets bombed and 1,364 terrorists killed during his time as IDF chief - set against frenzied funeral processions.
I wasn't surprised by their response, but disappointed. To get all bent up in Israel 2019 about a man who gloats about aerial footage of a Gaza blown back to the Dark Ages is asinine. We should know better by now. How else are we going to survive if we don’t make peace with war? Gantz understands this, but sadly, he hasn’t gone far enough.
If he intends to win, Gantz must further conjure the dormant part of his inner Clint. To topple the comb-over mountain towering over Balfour Street for so long, Gantz needs to go Dirty Benny. It’s a part he was born to play. The man looks like he should be asking punks if they feel lucky. He’s already started down the right path. The fire has been lit, now it’s time to scorch the earth.
As Mr. Eastwood once said, "Sometimes the dead can be more useful than the living."
If Gantz truly yearns to be Israel’s next prime minister, this is what he must do - now:
- No more button-up shirts and Uniqlos. From now on, he must wear blouses made from the shrunken heads of his fallen adversaries. The belt will be made from their dried-up ears and the pants will be jeans
- Speak less. Pithiness is strength, and strength is khaki, which is army, and army good. Aim for one word a month. Some good options are: Israel, Iran, Strong, Apocalypse, Kaboom
- Hug at least one Druze a day
- Buy his own cigars, light them himself, put them in his mouth and swallow them whole
- Launch a new genre of softly suggestive political porn showing Israeli generals wearing nothing but full dress uniform as they march through a field of anemones and say things like "deterrence" in a husky voice
- Make more videos showing how he could send Palestinians back to other time periods, not just the Stone Age. Everybody loves time travel
- Remind Israelis they live by the sword, die by the sword, do crossword puzzles by the sword, go to the toilet by the sword, eat a mango by the sword, do a little dance by the sword, make a little love by the sword, get down tonight by the sword
That's it, and with that, I wish us all a very Benny Gantz.
Daniel Gouri de Lima is a news editor at Haaretz and a comedian. Twitter: @GouriLima