It's Not Too Late to Save Israel From Itself

The moderate left and right must work together, seek peace and stop bashing Benjamin Netanyahu, however paltry his emotional intelligence.

AFP

To: The Council to Save Enlightened Zionism

From: The Strategic Adviser

Honorable members,

At your request I have investigated the political situation of that strange country called Israel. As you know, this tiny country has been ruled for a long time by a man with high mental intelligence and low emotional intelligence, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Under his rule over the past decade, this country has been swept to the right and has lost eye contact with reality and heart contact with decency. According to common wisdom, the Jewish democratic state has no chance because mighty demographic forces are changing its face and turning it into a dark, religious and nationalist entity.

But since the members of the council refuse to forgo the chance to save Israel from itself, I have taken a comprehensive survey of this country’s internal and external environment. Here are my findings.

1) Peace is dead. While in the 2001 election campaign even the general who headed the right promised peace, in 2015 the left-wing parties didn’t really talk about peace. The resounding failures of the previous peace moves, the trauma of the second intifada after Camp David, the trauma of Hamas rockets after the Gaza disengagement and the chaos in the Middle East had rendered peace politically dead.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special cabinet meeting to mark Jerusalem Day in Ein Lavan, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Abir Sultan, AP

There’s no way to generate political change in Israel with a strategy based on a dove holding an olive branch. Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat and their friends have become the Israeli right’s main assets.

2) The center is alive and kicking. Unlike the impression created by the news from Jerusalem, Israel has not become fascist. It's not true that most Israelis have extreme-to-racist views. Many Israelis are willing to embrace a policy to divide the land, extract the country from diplomatic isolation and be part of the free, enlightened world.

The onslaught on the left may indeed be horrifying, but there is also an aversion to nationalist and religious extremism. A proper leadership and the right vision could return most Israelis to the center and generate an upheaval.

3) Netanyahu is still very strong, but he’s getting worn out. Two decades after entering the Prime Minister’s Office, he is no longer exciting and galvanizing but tedious and tiring. Israelis love novelty; they’re not comfortable with a political brand that was shiny 25 years ago.

But mistakes by Netanyahu’s rivals are keeping him in power. The groundless notion of “everything’s bad here” is turning him into something that seems positive. The errant approach of “anything but Bibi” is making people feel sorry for him. The left’s blindness, the center’s pallor and the divisiveness, pettiness and sourness portray Netanyahu as someone of stature.

Honorable council members, the conclusion is clear: There is a chance. Israel can be pulled from the brink and marched to a horizon of hope. But to do so it must be understood that the change won’t take place at the police’s fraud squad or in the State Comptroller’s Office. It will take place at the polls.

And to do so Israel’s next general election must feature three forces. The center-left must strive for social justice, the center must strive for unity, progress and the good life, and the center-right must strive for a return to Zeev Jabotinsky’s spirit and Menachem Begin’s Likud.

And there must be communication among the three forces. They must be committed to changing the government, saving democracy and advancing a cautious, moderate peace move. With ingenious and vigorous work together, it is still possible to save Israel.