Herzog + Odeh + Lapid + Kahlon + Galon = 63. They show us the numbers and expect the described scenario to become a realistic possibility. However, is it really enough to string together a few words to create a realistic option? More precisely, is it possible, in the current Israeli reality, to envisage circumstances in which Kahlon joins a coalition with the Joint Arab List and without the Likud?
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Kahlon is definitely a cause for optimism on Israel’s political map. “We mustn’t forget that the courts are the last bastion of the weak, and must be as strong as possible,” he has said, revealing that he has a deep understanding of a basic issue that seems no longer so self-evident in contemporary Israel: A worldview is not a grab-bag; its values are mutually dependent and obligate one another. It seems that Kahlon understands that social justice rests on the principle of people being equal before the law, which in turn depends on a strong judiciary. However, if he is truly committed to social justice and equality, he cannot desist when it comes to Israel’s Arab citizens, nor can he avoid a true commitment to solving the conflict and liberating the Palestinian people from Israeli oppression.
One cannot attain justice while ignoring the greatest acts of injustice in the land. Kahlon doesn’t really have the option of focusing only on economic issues affecting Israeli Jews and reaching just solutions for them, since injustice toward Israeli Arabs and Palestinians forces various parts of the system to act unjustly. Ultimately injustice becomes their defining characteristic, tainting everything, be it the justice system, distribution of resources, law enforcement, the army, education and even the creative development of Hebrew.
It’s not only Kahlon. The entire political system in Israel will have to eventually realize that it is on a dead-end road. This is not theoretical nitpicking or a demand for intellectual consistency, but a genuine collision with reality. It may be possible to establish a right-wing coalition, but it cannot survive because a true democracy cannot decide democratically to act against democracy without falling apart. There is a real world out there, and Israel is on a collision course with it.
When Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and the Palestinians announce that the status quo is untenable, it has real implications. It means they won’t allow Israel to go on trying to maintain it. The rules of the game have changed. The decision by Israelis in the last election to perpetuate the status quo says they are ignoring what Palestinians and the entire world are saying. Where exactly will the right-wing coalition of 67 members lead us? Even with 120 extreme right-wing Knesset members, the government will not be able to advance its policies without ultimately being stopped.
Until Israel internalizes the fact that what was in the past cannot continue, that this option is no longer available in the real world, it will continue to swing between repeated cycles of elections and violence. Therefore, a national unity government is a good start, since it expresses the realization that a change in direction by the entire political system is required, and that the dynamic between “right” and “left” that worked harmoniously to maintain the status quo (while harming all political systems and the country’s social fabric) must start acknowledging the reality of life here, which requires new modes of thinking – together – about what is truly possible, and thus essential, to be done.