Opinion

Naftali Bennett Has Made Itamar Ben-Gvir a Political Pariah

Kahanist Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma Yehudit, January 15, 2020.
Ohad Zwigenberg

1. Ben-Gvir. The big loser in the race for the Knesset is Itamar Ben-Gvir. In the end he received two punishments instead of one. It was fun to see him lamenting on television about having to take the picture of the murderer Baruch Goldstein off the wall of his living room, and yet still be ejected from the Yamina Knesset roster.

MK Naftali Bennett, who turned Ben-Gvir into a political pariah, deserves credit. He was not willing to bring a Kahanist onto the joint list of the religious Zionist factions. He argued with Ayelet Shaked, because she was prepared to consider doing it, and just before the deadline for submitting the rosters he withstood brutal pressure by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who wanted to get the Kahanists’ votes.

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Netanyahu doesn’t care about racism, messianism and anti-democracy. It doesn’t bother him that bringing Ben-Gvir into the Knesset also means bringing in the rest of Kahane’s disciples: Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein. That’s why it is so important that Ben-Gvir stay outside.

Who knows, perhaps God will harden his heart and he’ll run to the end, get 80,000 votes and thus the right-wing camp will lose two fateful seats, which might mean an end to the age of Netanyahu.

2. The salary carnival. Once there was balance in the economy. If you went to work in the public sector, you’d enjoy total employment stability and excellent social conditions, but your salary would be relatively low. Today the balance has been upset. In the public sector you enjoy higher wages than in the private sector.

This week the report came out on salaries in government companies in 2018, and it turns out that the man in charge of work assignments at the Haifa Port makes 87,000 shekels a month ($25,185) while the deputy CEO of the Israel Electric Corporation makes 81,000 shekels a month. The average salary in a government company is 23,000 shekels a month, which the average wage in general is 10,000 shekels a month. Scandalous. So why should it come as a surprise that more and more young people want to work in the public sector? The fat man is getting fatter and the thin man (the private sector) is collapsing.

3. Bezalel Smotrich. Last week I wrote here about the transportation minister, who carried out a reform in taxi fares, and I ended with the hope that he would not give in to Netanyahu, who wants to torpedo the reform under pressure from the taxi drivers, who threaten not to vote Likud. Smotrich boasted to the drivers: “You won’t move me from my stance with curses and threats.” But this week it turned out that he did move, did he ever. He agreed to a “compromise” with Netanyahu, by which until after the election, drivers can choose between the old rate and the new one. This is the worst of both worlds. Each drivers will choose the most worthwhile rate for him, and as a result the public will be fleeced. The opposite of the biblical Balaam: He came to bless and found himself cursed.

4. The Gamla Waterfall. This week on Tuesday, a friend of mine decided to go north to enjoy the flowing streams and frothing waterfalls. He wanted to see the Gamla Waterfall, the highest in Israel and he got there at noon, after a drive of two and a half hours. But then, at the gate of the nature reserve, he was in for a surprise. The representative of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority told him curtly: “The waterfall is closed.” “Why is it closed?” he asked. “I drove for two and a half hours.” “There’s a problem with the bridge because of the rain,” she said. “But the rain stopped last week,” he said, in despair. “Why didn’t you call first?” she scolded him. “Who should I have called? The bridge? The waterfall?” he thought, his head sinking. “Can I at least tour the Gamla ruins?” he stuttered. “You can’t. There’s not enough time. We close at 1.”

That really beats all. They prevent access to the main attraction, and close in the middle of the day. But that’s the way it is with a government monopoly. Service and entrance fees are not important. After all, there’s always government funding to take.

Something similar happened to me last year and the nature authority hasn’t improved since then. Attention please, CEO Shaul Goldstein.