Would a Likud Government Without Netanyahu Be Worse Than the Current One?

B. Michael
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Israel's top coalition members in the Knesset in Jerusalem, last month.
B. Michael

It’s awkward to admit it, but more than anything else the new government reminds me of Murdoch the Palmachnik from Dahn Ben-Amotz and Haim Hefer’s collection of tall tales, “A Bag of Fibs.” For those unfamiliar with the Scriptures, a synopsis: Murdoch and the guys take a boat out on Lake Kinneret at night, bringing a gas lantern with them. The guys say to Murdoch, “You have no character.” Murdoch says: “I have character.” The guys say: “If you have character, let’s see you throw the lantern into the lake.” Murdoch takes the lantern and throws it into the water. “Nu, what do you say now?” he asks them. “You have no character,” the guys say, “you listen to anyone.”

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So it is with this government of Murdochs. It listens to anyone. Provocateurs want a march? Here’s a permit. Residents of Israeli Gaza border communities are angry? We bomb Gaza. Haredi Zionists demand payola? Building plans for settlements are immediately approved and a deal goes through for another theft. The police are going berserk? The hilltop criminals are carrying out pogroms? Apartheid, religious coercion, anxiety and exclusion bloom like flowers? The government doesn’t know, see, hear or smell it. It’s prepared to throw any lantern into the lake, to make everyone think it has character.

But even more, this government recalls the Mapai governments of Israel’s first decades: an ineffectual “central” core, surrounding by a Haredi party that only cares about disbursements; a subversive, Haredi National Religious Party; a Russian ultranationalist party and a bourgeois right-wing party. There’s and even a type of Ahdut HaAvoda: a loyal representative of the agrarian chauvinism school of Yitzhak Tabenkin and Yigal Allon (the former a leader of the Greater Land of Israel movement, the latter one of the major perpetrators of the Nakba). It’s exactly Mapai-Alignment-Labor. Exactly what brought us to where we are. The same movement that invented “another dunam, another goat,” and that to this day has not recognized that it is long past time to slaughter the sacred goats and return the land to its owners.

From the start, no one pinned much hope on this government. It had one sole purpose: Ousting Benjamin Netanyahu from rule for long years, in the hope that the squawking flock that surrounds him would go with him. But it hasn’t even done that. The draft law barring a criminal defendant from serving as prime minister has disappeared, whereabouts unknown. That in itself is no surprise. The new prime ministerial duo knows full well that its passage would quickly end the government. The company of moles comprising the coalition would stampede to Likud in order to take control and form a proper right-right government.

Here’s a heretical thought: Would a Likud government without Netanyahu really be worse than the current government? It might be preferable. After all, in terms of policy it would not be dramatically different. Both will lead Israel to ruin – one out of criminal stupidity, the other out of malignant cowardice. But isn’t a government of abomination that looks like an abomination preferable to a government of abomination that is well-groomed, polite, smiling and false? Perhaps an ugly face, as befits an ugly policy, will pull the world out of its long silence and persuade it to kick us back to the straight and narrow? After all, it’s our only chance for salvation.

In any case, it would behoove the elected government to fulfill its mission and quickly pass the law that will free this country from Netanyahu once and for all. It promised this. That’s why it was elected.

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