Next week will mark one hundred days since the establishment of the Bennett-Lapid government. It was customary in the past to treat this period with generosity, with the understanding that a new government deserves some minimal amount of time for learning the ropes. This period was known as the hundred days of grace. This time, things have been reversed. There were indeed one hundred days of grace, but the beneficiaries were the citizens of this country, courtesy of the new government. As expected, the new government did not enjoy even one moment of goodwill on the part of the opposition (just recall the swearing-in ceremony).
In the opposition’s footsteps came broad swaths of the media, which had grown accustomed to eating out of the hand of the opposition leader during his endless term in office, flattering him while constantly catering to his personal, family and legal interests. It is therefore particularly important to remind ourselves of reality as it is, not as reflected in hysterical TV studios or on manipulated social media.
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The new government was labeled a “government of change.” Well, let’s note the changes one can see. Government ministries have resumed working for the citizenry. Cabinet members in charge of these ministries are interested in serving the public, not just their voters and close associates. They look for solutions, re-examining the issues, working hard rather than prattling ad nauseam in the media.
The person leading the government is acting like a first among equals, favoring team work. He isn’t occupied with fostering a North-Korean-style of cult worship and has not adopted the manners of royalty. He doesn’t rush to take sole credit for successes and shirk any responsibility for slipups and failures. He doesn’t employ a bevy of “communication advisers” whose sole role is to sling mud, slander and besmirch. He doesn’t attack journalists or incite people against them.
He doesn’t take his wife to every ceremony or on every trip and his son doesn’t constantly issue foul tweets against other politicians and media personalities. In truth, no one actually knows who the prime minister’s son is.
The current government kept its word and did not yield to the insane blitz of coronavirus prophets of doom, led by a raft of TV hosts and commentators, who appointed themselves global experts in epidemiology even when faced with a new and dynamic epidemic that the entire world is still studying as it unfolds. This is a government that insisted on opening the school year while refraining from imposing a populist lockdown, including during the period of the High Holy Days. It initiated a rapid and impressive campaign of booster shots, refusing to choke off the economy and bring it to its knees. These are great achievements.
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This government is not constantly occupied with a divide and rule strategy; its senior members are not involved in endless incitement, in sowing internal dissension and in inventing scapegoats and imaginary foes. So far it has not been dragged into over-reactive and provocative moves in the wake of localized security-related events such as the death of a Border Police officer on the Gaza border and the breakout from Gilboa Prison. Even though the cabinet includes three right-wing parties, it seems that no one there is impressed by the unbelievably insolent demands for embarking on a war, made by high-ranking settlers such as Israel Harel and Oded Revivi (“Heat things up"; “Calm is one of Israel’s maladies”).
This is a government whose very establishment constitutes a breakthrough. It is the first coalition in Israel’s history which includes an Arab partner. That’s a historical precedent.
This government won’t be able to deal thoroughly with the two ticking time bombs on Israel’s horizon. Not with the Jewish-Palestinian conflict, in the form of the occupation of the West Bank and the siege on the Gaza Strip, and not with the growth of the ultra-Orthodox community to dimensions which in a generation or two will put an end to the Zionist vision of a progressive and democratic state ruled by law. But in its first hundred days, this government has bestowed on us two gifts which we had forgotten even existed: a little sanity, a little quiet.