Arye Dery and Moshe Gafni, the Keys to Change Are in Your Hands

Uzi Baram
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Israel's Interior Minister Arye Dery speaks to Moshe Gafni during a meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem September 13, 2017.
Uzi Baram

Arye Dery and Moshe Gafni, I’m asking you please to immediately demand the canning of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Do you like the right more? Support a suitable replacement, who is less in love with himself and can exert self-restraint. After all, you can see how Netanyahu, who is gripped with paranoia, is letting the collective madness take over all that is good. So stop him, now.

I know both of you well. I served with Dery in the Rabin government. There were years in which we shared a joint objective. Those days are long gone. Still, Dery knows quite well that Netanyahu has changed his colors and is very dangerous, while Gafni can attest to the lies about the one-year budget.

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Both of them are sure he has lost it. You see how he comes to cabinet meetings spitting out abuse and spreading lies invented by his malicious associates. I’m turning to you because you bear responsibility for prolonging this situation.

It is true your voters are closer to his positions than mine, and you may well ask, what is my motive to bite the hand that feeds me? Still, I believe – and perhaps many of my readers will disagree with me – that your long service in government and the Knesset allows you to differentiate between “good” and “bad” and “the worst.”

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Turkish President Recep Erdogan both keep up the appearance of democracy, too. Their countries hold elections and it was possible to replace the mayor of Istanbul. However, both of them have killed off the soul of democracy in their takeover of the media and legal system.

I assume you are thinking that this evil will not reach you; after all, you always determine the balance of power. Neither do participants in the national conversation view you as defenders of democracy. But I think there is no group that democracy protects more than your constituents. Giving expression to the interests of those who elected you is possible only in a truly democratic regime. Your voters can fall victim to the arbitrariness of an all-powerful ruler. Anyone who becomes an autocrat also becomes insensitive to all others because his power keeps growing.

You know after all that Netanyahu isn’t really trying to improve the economic situation or fix the problems of the health system. He cares for nothing other than his personal survival. For this, he is ready to steal the fourth election using false justifications, and he is convinced you are in his pocket. Don’t let him. Don’t be the enabler that helps him push Israel in the same direction as Hungary and Turkey are headed.

I’m not turning to you in the name of my ideology; after all, we don’t share a common world view. I’m asking you in the name of the responsibility and experience you have. You are not part of the reckless group of ministers eating out of his hand. You are public leaders with vast experience. You can – and need to – take action. Don’t believe the nonsense about a bogus unity between the bloc of the “underprivileged” and this culture of lies and fraud. Give expression to the cries of so many who are calling out at this time.

I wouldn’t have put this request to you in writing if I hadn’t felt that the words of the prophet Jeremiah – “It is a time of trouble unto Jacob, but out of it shall he be saved” – so characterize the horrors of the times. Don’t let the illusions blind you. The protest will grow stronger because it has an internal truth. Netanyahu will never be wise enough to internalize its lessons. I am convinced that the keys to change are in your hands.

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