Ego Will Destroy the Bennett-Lapid Government

Uzi Baram
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett receiving his third vaccine dose
Uzi Baram

Like many others, I too support the insane idea that led to the establishment of this heterogeneous government. It is the only possibility of effecting any kind of change. And so, precisely now, when it is contending with economic, security and public health issues, it is vital to guarantee its future through wise leadership and long-term planning.

Naifs believe in the balance of terror theory, which assumes that none of the governing coalition’s components would dare to step out of line and jeopardize it; Likud is pounding at the gates with the specter of an early election. This theory assumes that the shared desire for success will mute any disagreement within the government.

LISTEN: How PM Bennett humiliated Abbas upon returning from Biden meeting

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I dispute this theory’s applicability. The government is made up of parties, and none of them wants to falter or to disappear. The closer we get to Election Day, the more each will seek to strengthen its own identity and the less they will take into consideration the balance of terror.

The durability of the government depends on each of its parts feeling that its success will serve the state on the one hand, and that it will be rewarded for its contribution to the other.

The first principle that will help strengthen the government is to exchange personal aspirations, which place the “I” at the center – a practice that has already caused great damage – with collective aspirations and the concept of “we.” The adoption of this recommendation must start with the prime minister.

Naftali Bennett is not a dominant prime minister. He is first among equals. He must pursue not the personal accomplishment but rather the collective one. That is not an easy demand for a man whose career has not been filled with expressions of modesty and humility, who always had the “solution” to every problem, from eliminating Hamas to eliminating the coronavirus.

Haste and self-aggrandizement are a toxic format for a government of change. Statements such as “I ordered the start of the school year,” “I instructed such-and-such,” “I authorized so-and-so to” represent the defiant focus on the “I” against which the change government was established.

In contrast, the left-wing cabinet members transcended the “I” and gave Bennett their blessing for his meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden last week. An ideological abyss yawns between them and Bennett, but they chose to act as a government of “we.”

The second principle that will contribute to the government’s success is avoiding public arguments. Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s alleged remark that he “does not accept the Health Ministry’s decrees” suits any past Israeli government, but not the current one, which must solve its disagreements discreetly and present a united face to the world.

On this the government will rise or fall: on the ability to check the ego of all its members at the door. This is a difficult brief for politicians, and perhaps it’s normal, but those who chose to join this not-very-normal government must commit to this principle as part of that decision.

I am aware that this government gives greater expression to the values of the right and the new center of Yair Lapid, Lieberman and Benny Gantz. But even they must recognize the right of its members from the Zionist left and from the United Arab List to make their mark on it.

Humility and modesty stand in contradiction to arrogance and condescension, which involve emphasizing the “I,” but they serve a great truth that may prove important in the long run. Maintaining the government is in the interest of everyone who is against populism and incitement.

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