The New Gantz Is Called Eisenkot

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Gadi Eisenkot (R) chats with his predecessor Benny Gantz during a visit to the Western Wall on February 16, 2015.

A government of experts – the dream of the despairing, the oppressed and the frustrated – already exists in Israel. Most of the ministers are experts, but not in their areas of responsibility. However, when it comes to deception, fraud, swindling and vote theft, nobody is more professional.

What experts does Israel still need when there are dozens of outstanding professionals in every government ministry, with a great deal of experience, whose voice nobody hears?

What medical genius can run the Health Ministry if a third of the population defies the directives, stages mass weddings, floods the shopping malls and holds funerals attended by thousands for its rabbis? Which winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics can manage Israel’s economy without a budget?

And who will guarantee that this expert won’t be the image of Avi Simhon, the chairman of the National Economic Council, whose success is demonstrated by the thousands of “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs in the windows of businesses that have collapsed?

And above all, where will we find the esteemed individual willing and able to conduct this professional orchestra, one who won’t flee within a few hours from the barrage of criticism and condemnations that will be showered on him by all those same politicians who “gave up” their seats for him? The dream of experts who aren’t tainted by politics cannot be fulfilled in Israel, where toddlers drink politics with their chocolate milk.

Because there is no hope for a government of experts in the State of Israel, we seek relief from magicians, shamans and readers of coffee grounds. The latest star in the firmament is former Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

The festival surrounding him is already starting. Surveys are predicting several Knesset seats for him, another forecast posits him as an alternative “whom the public will love” because he’s a general, the measurements department believes that he represents the precise center, neither right nor left, and at Moshe Ya’alon’s hitchhiking post, they’ve already picked him up in their car as number two, even before he has decided where he’s traveling to.

We would do well to recall for a moment Benny Gantz’s long silence before he entered the election campaign, and afterward as well. Gantz turned his silence into a marketing strategy. Territories? Human rights? Democracy? For weeks on end it was hard to extract a clear, sharp and committed statement from him.

They mocked his silence, called him the silent candidate, until in the end he opened his mouth and produced some heart-melting pearls. He wouldn’t join the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he would work to amend the nation-state law, maintain a civil discourse and defend the institutions of law. He promised. We know the result, and there’s no point in pouring more salt on the festering wound that Gantz left in the souls of his approximately 1,100,000 voters.

Now we’re being offered the “return of the warrior” – another former chief of staff who can vanquish the dragon. True, that the fact that chiefs of staff have failed in politics doesn’t disqualify them, but cumulative experience has marked them as a guild full of promises without any cover. Like Gantz, Eisenkot is silent, and is thereby arousing a strong suspicion that what we have here is another clone of a military-political product.

What is his opinion of the nation-state law? The Supreme Court? the rights of Arabs? Distributive justice? Or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What do all the people who conducted the surveys, who gave six to seven Knesset seats to a party under his leadership, know about him that the rest of the public doesn’t know?

The problem is even more serious, because even if Eisenkot starts to reveal his views, and even if his words are balm to our souls, immediately afterward we’ll recall Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya’alon, who with their own hands destroyed the trust in Israel Defense Forces retirees.

The public paid an exorbitant price for the military heroics that entered politics, and received nothing in return. Anyone who wants a functioning government not headed by Netanyahu must not make this mistake again. One magician is not enough for an entire show, and a former chief of staff, as talented as he may be, cannot win alone.

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