So, Was Ousting 'Tyrant' Netanyahu Worth It After All?

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset, on Monday
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Cautiously, hesitantly, we need to begin asking: Was it worth it? Is this the man we prayed for? Two months have passed, a short time, but nevertheless two months. The new government can’t change the world in two months, but it could signal change, a new spirit. After 12 years of what can only be called the destruction of democracy, the new government could at least now signal change – that we’ve gone from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from Benjamin Netanyahu to Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid. For this we fought and dreamed.

Two months have gone by and nothing has changed. The country hasn’t been destroyed, as the Bibi-ists are now shouting, but there’s also been no sign of inspiring change on its way either. It’s more of the same – here an improvement, there a setback. It’s discouraging. It’s disheartening to see that a government which rode to power on waves of protests driven by fear for the future and desire for change is not even trying to be different. Even when it is full of itself, it’s a disappointment. Certainly it should be given more time, but we should be worried: Change doesn’t seem to be on the horizon. Not even a hint of change. We told you so.

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Not a single important speech has been made, not a single new idea has been raised. Let’s face it, nothing new or inspiring has been done. Yes, we again have a state budget, (which isn’t a global innovation), but this isn't a budget that can inspire hope. Again, we get an inflated, absurd, and corrupt defense budget, which crushes any chance of change. Everything else lives in its shadow. It’s exciting to see an increase in mental health spending, but that's pennies compared to what the defense establishment has taken for itself.

Clearly, there’s no difference between one defense minister and another, regardless of which government or party they belong to; in their greed, they are all the same. Likewise, there’s no difference in their policies. In the last few weeks, the army has run wild in the territories in a way it hasn’t in a long time. Soldiers are shooting and killing innocents without blinking an eye, and no one in the new government has done a thing to stop the situation from deteriorating.

Even in regard to Iran, nothing has changed. Instead of declaring that Israel has a new government that has changed direction and supports the already-drafted nuclear agreement, we’re again hearing talk of war and witnessing thinly veiled provocations, which do nothing but bring joy to the hawks. Again we’re seeing a policy of attacking Iran with arrogance and impudence, raising their voices against Iranian aggression, as if Tehran is the region’s only aggressor. War is on the way, as Zvi Bar’el (“How to start a war,” Aug. 4) explained. Who is leading us there? A government that is considered center left.

And the coronavirus: Change? If so, it would have to be deemed a failure. You don’t need to blame the new government for the resurgent virus, but the charade that it's acting differently from its predecessor is outrageous. Netanyahu dealt well with the coronavirus; the new government at best can only hope to match him.

“So why do we have this whole thing,” wrote the poet David Avidan in “Urgent Discussion.” “We’d better do great things.” However, this government is not meant to do great things. History shows that a government that doesn’t start off great will never become great later. Menachem Begin needed just a few weeks to initiate something that would earn him a place in history. F.W. de Klerk brought about the historic change in South Africa a few months after he took office. Here, it’s not going to happen.

We should no longer hope for greatness from this government. Neither its leader nor the parties that comprise it are built for that, it seems. At least in small ways it could bring change, not just by ending the discount on the Rav-Kav public transportation card, which seems for the time being to be its biggest revolution. Release Khalida Jarrar, arrest Mohammed al-Alami’s killers, allow public transportation on Saturday, allow Artem Dolgopyat to marry in this country. Something. Let us know that now is better than in the “dark” years under the “tyrant.”

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