Opinion

Netanyahu's Party Prioritizes Loyalty Over Talent. I Pity the People He Attracts

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Culture and Sport minister Miri Regev is the most important person in politics today. It’s not her ideological voice that makes her important. Channel 2 journalist Amnon Abramovich’s story about her confessing in the past that her “views match those of the Labor Party” was later confirmed by another journalist. More than just being an ugly political anecdote, this is testimony to her cynicism: She’s now willing to support territorial annexations, which will carry a bloody price.

Regev certainly didn’t acquire her small amount of power due to integrity. Nor is Regev a ground-breaking politician; even after years in the ruling party, she has no real achievements of which to boast. Rather, Regev is important because of what she doesn’t have, and because of the enormous hunger for power that has filled this vacuum within her.

And she is not unique; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling party Likud is full of similar people. But she attracts more criticism, some of which verges on chauvinism and racism. (In the past, I’ve actually defended her against misogynist innuendos).

It’s even possible to pity her – a woman who clawed her way to a ministerial post by any means possible, only to be sent into the killing fields of the television news studios to recite talking points dictated from above. One can only imagine the pressure she is under, her cautious sniffing around the shifting centers of power, her hope that one day this will pay off and she will be able to move up another level, only to be sent with a more important title to recite talking points dictated from above.

Regev could be tossed out on the roadside at any moment. Her blind loyalty has been milked to the maximum; it’s no longer wanted. And another empty vessel will be sent in her place to fight the prime minister’s wars.

Small-minded managers promote small-minded people. That’s why Regev, Amir Ohana, Yoav Gallant and other Likud MKs are first and foremost testimony to the person who has surrounded himself with them.

The criterion is loyalty, not talent. That’s true with regard to the state comptroller, and it’s also true with regard to the national security adviser, who was once sent to persuade Rabbi Chaim Druckman to urge ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked not to resign from the cabinet.

Very few people can survive in this cruel world, in which people are asked to negate themselves completely, to eradicate any vestige of independent thought. To some, however, this sacrifice is less important.

Yet they are responsible for public life. Regev was put in charge of the state’s involvement in Israel’s cultural life, a field that demands the delicacy of a surgeon, but which she turned into an ideological mouthpiece for the right-wing Im Tirtzu movement. Former minister Ayoub Kara was entrusted with the communications portfolio, and Gallant was housing and construction minister: These people hold influential positions, and they have a daily impact in our lives. But for them, these positions are just empty titles on the way to the next empty title. And that is how our lives look as well.