The Israeli Government's Politics Are Forgivable, but Not Its Abuse of Trust

Yair Assulin
Yair Assulin
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Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset.
Avigdor Lieberman, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Yair Assulin
Yair Assulin

This text is, more than anything, a call of warning to the present government, which every day that passes uses up a bit more of the fumes of trust on which it exists. We are not talking about substance here, not the shaping of reality or ideology either. On these matters, as the Glasgow climate summit proved for the nth time, politics as it is in Israel and the rest of the world today, and the old order as it is today, do not have the true, far-reaching ability to shape reality in depth and for the long term.

This text is about aesthetics, appearances, what is required of this government so it can continue to be the tenants’ committee in this arena – at a time when the old story is disintegrating. Hardly a day goes by without this government, by its own actions, eroding a little bit more of the public trust it still enjoys. No matter if it’s the appointment of a family relative, or budget shenanigans with the IDF, or coalition payoffs, or some real-estate developer crony who received gigantic favors. Or, as happened this week, the attempt to bypass the appointments committee that rejected Amir Peretz’s candidacy for Israel Aerospace Industries chairman, but nonetheless to bring the appointment to the cabinet for approval, all because of an apparent political deal between Peretz and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

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Little things, every one by itself can be explained away, quibbled over, apologized for. But all of them together coalesce into a feeling that in all things concerning proper management, transparency, making the perceptions of Israel’s citizens the central concern – understanding the great importance of how things look to the public – in all of this, the present government is not really any different from its predecessor.

True, this shouldn’t be a surprise; after all, the more the old order disintegrates, the greater the conflicts of interest between the establishment, the system and the public this system pretends to represent, the more these conflicts deepen. These systems protect themselves, it’s natural, especially when their relevancy is so meager, and they instinctively sense what is being said about them on the street.

Still, this call of warning is worth being heard. Similar things have been written here time after time about the IDF’s greed or its disrespect for its soldiers. The recent survey by the Israel Democracy Institute on how Israelis view the Israel Defense Forces, which revealed that only a quarter of Israelis think the IDF treats its soldiers well, only proves how deep the problem is. Times are changing, human awareness – and of course public awareness, too – is changing.

Anyone who thinks these shady little deals, which are embedded deep in the old politics, in the dingy rooms where these dubious agreements are made, where one hand washes the other, which is based on narrow interests and sealed with big words and nothing but promises – anyone who think these things can exist today in the broadest arena of discourse that humans have ever had, an arena for debate that is critical to preserve and develop more and more, in spite of the fury of those who demonize it precisely because of the enormous public value it brings, and in spite of their great manipulation and money, does not understand the reality in which we live and the context in which our reality is conducted today.

This lack of trust, like gas, is something that accumulates slowly and invisibly. The same goes for alienation and apathy. But their end is to explode suddenly, without anyone really knowing what was the match that lit the fire and why. No society wants fires or explosions. Paradigm shifts require time, unavoidable delays, a slow trickling down. This is the only way that, in the end, new stories come into being. That’s why it’s so important, for now, for the moment, that this tenants’ committee called the “government of change” continue to exist. Consciously or not, this government is part of the bridge between the old days and the new days that will come. It will not last for much longer if it continues to show disdain for the public’s trust, as it is doing now.

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