Israeli Leftists, Enough With the Generals

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Gadi Eisenkot, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, in Tel Aviv, January 2020.

After he enthusiastically promoted Benny Gantz and didn’t learn his lesson, Raviv Drucker is now once again proposing the new false messiah of the left: the next general in line, Gadi Eisenkot. Does anyone even know anything about the ideology of this discharged Israel Defense Forces soldier? In order not to end up, for example, with another “left-wing” leader who supports legalizing outposts? Who cares? According to journalist Drucker, he has to lead mainly because “he has the potential to attract more voters and is the most suited of all to contend with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on matters of foreign affairs and security” (Haaretz Hebrew edition, November 30).

The center-left’s penchant for the military brass is already turning into a parody. In spite of all the failures in the near and distant past, the members of the camp continue to choose for themselves theoretical and artificial leaders who are compressed into a mold that has been shaped in advance. While seizing on to the past images of Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, they are fantasizing about a senior defense official so that there can be no doubt about his patriotism, and are thereby falling into the trap so well prepared by the right, which has worked hard to undermine the nationalism of the left.

They are ignoring the political experience that Rabin and even Barak accumulated before they ascended – on foot, and not by parachute – to the leadership of the government. They are ignoring the fact that politics is a profession, and acquiring experience at it is essential to actually implement an ideology and policy. Anyone who has kept track of Kahol Lavan behind the scenes in the past year knows how blatant is their lack of political experience and how damaging it is to them.

It is self-evident that the military fantasy prevents women from heading this theoretical leadership. The imaginary next candidate will never be someone whom people don’t see in these circles in any case, and thereby they are perpetuating the existing situation. Even worse – in the current political arena, in which strategic partnership with the Joint List is more necessary than ever, placing another former chief of staff at the forefront only makes it difficult to implement this option, instead of advancing it.

Those same people who anoint leaders, who are excited by former chiefs of staff, are usually even happier if this general is also Mizrahi by chance, and perhaps even religiously traditional. Here too they are ignoring the fact that the political identity of leaders is not necessarily to be found in their literal identity, but rather in what they represent symbolically. It’s sufficient to recall Menachem Begin and to look at Netanyahu.

But more than anything else, it seems that the self-appointed nominators of candidates are being overly analytical in their situation assessment. Let’s see who’s around, on which list we can stick him, which vague messages will we give him to recite, and how many Knesset seats will that bring, based on which survey.

This approach will always fail, because it completely lacks the secret ingredient in the recipe, the one that leads to major revolutions: passion. A man or woman who attracts masses of people to the light of a vision. Because of the path they portray. Because of the breadth of experience they’ve acquired, and which led them to these conclusions. Because of who they are. Because of their desire to lead and to change. Not because someone chose them in a laboratory based on their resume.

The left is now in need of Jewish-Arab partnership, ethical leadership with a clear vision, and ability on the ground based on practical political experience. The left does not need another general from the boring list of names. And if one is already proposing specific names instead of pointing to a desired path to be followed by those who are ready, one might at least challenge the social imagination with somewhat more ground-breaking proposals.

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