The Day After Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 30, 2019.
REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

It’s 11:00 P.M. and Netanyahu has no coalition. Not for lack of trying. He promised Pnina Tamano-Shata to see to the aliyah of the rest of the Falashmura, three committees against police brutality and a rotating premiership. (For the latest election polls – click here)

He promised Lapid the ministries of finance, defense and strategic preservation of Diaspora Jewry. He even tried to win over Moshe Ya’alon – with promises to build the Defense Ministry in Ramallah and convert the Jordan Valley into an aircraft carrier. But there’s no point rehashing all that. Now he has to pack up.

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Somebody has brought boxes, and he has used them to pack up the plastic yard chairs, just like the last time he lost a home. Urich popped in for a minute, to explain to him how to tweet from the phone – “a final gesture” –but then he left, the cell phone went off and now it’s asking for a password.

Yair is nowhere to be seen, either. He thinks he saw Avner passing him the wanted ads. He must have been hallucinating. He called Riklin from the landline. The line is still busy. The attorney general and Regev aren’t answering either. He hasn’t been able to reach Sheldon for days. Maybe a communications satellite crashed. It happens.

He’s hungry. Not a single cook is left. Sara asked him to order something but all the people with the cash have gone and it will take two weeks to order a credit card. Milchan and Mimran are gone. Milikowsky sent a postcard from the Seychelles.

With some people – no matter how much you give them, all they do is take. He made his famous ptitim (riced macaroni) recipe and almost burned down the kitchen. Shimron suggested that he enroll in a life skills course. He shouted at him, and for a moment he felt better.

There was a moment, at the dramatic press conference, when everyone was still there, and the journalists, too. “The Arabs committed election fraud,” he bellowed, “for the sake of their friends from the IDF general staff.” But it only got play on Channel 20, which gave it a good effort anyway, while the other channels were already obsessively discussing possible coalitions. Horowitz wants to be Education Minister.

Litzman did call. And Dery. They’re worried about obtaining immunity. We’ll promise the attorney general the ambassadorship to Malta, he was trying to reassure them as the calls abruptly disconnected.

On the Knesset channel, Amir Ohana is walking about in a state of shock. Regev is whispering something to Benny Gantz. “But Gantz is crazy,” he suddenly hears himself yelling. “He’s unfit.” Reflected in the mirror is a man who is no longer young, shouting at the television news.

“Anyone but Bibi” is no substitute for values or a worldview. But for a decade now, holders of high office in Israel have been appointed on the basis of their loyalty to a single family; media channels exist on a loyalty basis; loyalty became a substitute for skills and then for integrity.

Netanyahu didn’t invent lying and slander, but he honed them for a defamation campaign of his own. He didn’t invent groveling, but has benefited from it to an unprecedented degree. He didn’t invent corruption, but has (allegedly) made it his life’s work.

And today we have the chance to get rid of him. How big of a chance? I don’t know. But it’s worth the effort. Go vote for the sake of each of the years that you watched Netanyahu poison Israeli politics. Vote because of the gang of little people he promoted to make himself appear bigger by comparison.

Vote for a country in which journalists don’t take orders from the official residence on Balfour Street. For a country that serves you, rather than one obsessive man’s assorted paranoias and complexes. Vote for the values that you believe in, and the people who have fought for those values. For me, it’s the people of the Democratic Union with a Meretz ballot slip.