Opinion

Israel's Finance Minister Needs to Learn a Lesson

Moshe Kahlon enabled the establishment of the worst government in Israel's history - and someone who lives with pyromaniacs shouldn't be surprised if they torch his affordable housing.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon at a joint press conference with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, March 19, 2017.
Ofer Vaknin

If Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon thought his smile would help him avoid Benjamin Netanyahu’s jealousy and anxiety complexes, he was wrong. Even if he submits to the prime minister’s every whim and prostrates himself before him, including by promising to personally lock the gates of the new public broadcasting corporation’s home on Jerusalem’s Kanfei Nesharim Street, he’ll quickly discover that the effort was in vain.

Netanyahu has apparently concluded that throwing the country into an uproar would be good for all his various problems – with the police, the attorney general, the U.S. president, the settlers and even his wife. And the most convenient candidate through whom to set off this explosion is Kahlon, the weak link.

After a similar maneuver two years ago, Netanyahu’s Likud party won 30 Knesset seats. Next time, maybe he’ll get 40.

All this isn’t necessarily terrible. Kahlon needs to learn a lesson. He enabled the establishment of the worst, most unrestrained government in Israel’s history – more like a loud pub than a government – and someone who goes to sleep with pyromaniacs shouldn’t be surprised if they torch his affordable housing.

Admittedly, it will cost us billions of shekels. But since we’ve apparently been sentenced to new elections, let’s at least enjoy them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks at his watch in the Knesset.
Emil Salman

Is there anyone, aside from those who are sucking down state resources for the benefit of their own communities, who thinks the current government’s continued existence is beneficial for any reason? This government must be thrown into the paper shredder, and the sooner the better, so that it doesn’t continue doing damage.

Recent developments make it clear that we’ve reached the finish line. It’s customary to say that Israel is always a decade behind America. But with regard to the strengthening of the radical right, we were evidently 20 years ahead of most Western democracies.

We didn’t know at the time that we were serving as a light unto the nations, but Netanyahu’s rise to power in Israel preceded, and perhaps portended, the processes that led to U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, the rise of Marine Le Pen in France and the weakening of Angela Merkel’s government in Germany. And perhaps there’s no choice but to let this process, in which ever expanding segments of society are gradually rebelling against the worldview fashioned by the Western progressive left since the 1960s and 1970s, play out to the end.

This harsh reaction against the left demands serious soul-searching, not just in Israel but throughout the Western world, because its destructive result has been a race toward a world of dangerous right-wing values. Yet because Israel preceded the right-wing wave that has now hit most Western countries, their citizens would benefit by watching us to observe its death throes.

Calling early elections for the third time since 2013 – that is, three elections in four years – clearly indicates a very deep leadership crisis. The Netanyahu government has apparently and inevitably reached the inherent crisis stage.

The internal collapse of Netanyahu’s leadership, even if Likud voters don’t understand what happened and continue to support him, shows that the cycle of rule by the radical right is nearing its end. But it would be better for it to end with Netanyahu and Likud losing at the polls, or with Netanyahu resigning because of the criminal suspicions against him, instead of with all of us being dragged by Netanyahu’s internal chaos into war, with its pillars of fire and smoke, and/or the destruction of the most important institutions of democratic governance.

Thus we must not let this process play out until its tragic climax. The attorney general ought to think very carefully about whether it’s right to leave Israel to the horrifying last act we can undoubtedly expect in the theater of the absurd dictated by Benjamin Netanyahu’s collapsing reign.