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You Call This a Government of Change?

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Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid in the Knesset, June 2, 2021
Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid in the Knesset, June 2, 2021Credit: Emil Salman

One can understand those who are experiencing relief or even joy today, on the assumption that a new government is about to be formed. It’s harder to join in the pompous and childish exaggerations, which describe Israel as going from darkness to light, and from slavery to freedom, as if it’s Alexander Lukashenko who had fallen and not Benjamin Netanyahu.

Both camps are guilty of hysterical exaggerations: Netanyahu’s departure is neither the end nor the portal to heaven. The camp that despised Netanyahu, ignored his achievements and focused on his lifestyle and failures, will jump with joy into the city pool tonight, so I’m sorry to be a party pooper. But the Netanyahu government will be replaced by another right-wing government. Israel will wake up to a new day that will be too much like the previous one.

One can understand the happiness at removing Likud from power, given the multitude of its clowns and muzzlers and its government, which in recent years has been a one-man show. Seeing Miri Regev disappear from our lives is a sublime moment. The new government will have a more efficient and impressive team of ministers, some of whom will try to do their job more decently. It’s pleasing. But over everything hovers a black and oppressive cloud: The right is replacing the right. A right without Netanyahu will replace a right with Netanyahu, and both are cruel. No serious leftist can rejoice in this.

Just before the left is also tempted to believe the Bibi-ists’ campaign of threats, of this “extreme left-wing government,” one must return with great sorrow to reality: The right will have unrestrained rule over this government as well. It represents neither unity nor change – it is right wing. The process of forming this government heralds what will come next: No one courted Meretz and Labor during the coalition negotiations; they were in the pockets of the big boys. They threw them the transportation and health portfolios, and offered a few bribes to the United Arab List, which can hardly be called left-wing.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid will travel the world for photo ops with statesmen, charming all those who so desperately want to see Israel as supposedly different. It will be another illusion like the ones disseminated by Shimon Peres, Lapid’s predecessor in the role of Israel’s beautiful face. This will not only be because of the government behind him, but also due to his own positions: Lapid is right wing. He will agree with almost all the moves of this right-wing government, why should he complain? On crucial issues, brother Bennett will implement brother Lapid’s policy, and vice versa. What fraternity!

It would be best not to say too much about Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Israel has never had such a right-wing and rotten finance minister. Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will be the face of the government’s evil. Here there won’t even be the appearance of compassion and humanity, let alone equality, toward the country’s non-Jews. Defense Minister Benny Gantz is already strangling Gaza as no one has strangled it before.

And all this will be presided over by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose belt already has one notch from a terrible war in Gaza, for which he pushed and incited because of the kidnapping and murder of three young Jews in the West Bank, and which he’d be happy to repeat. Iran, the nation-state law, the rule of law, the defense budget and the settlements will be dealt with just as under the previous government. In the Evyatar outpost, the last wild weed as of now, they can already break open the champagne. This extreme left-wing government will support them as well. It’s a bad-news government.

The remnants of the miserable Zionist left will longingly observe what is happening from the visitors’ gallery. No one will take them seriously, and rightly so. They have no options. Nitzan Horowitz will protest, Merav Michaeli will threaten, and the cabinet secretary will record it in the minutes. In this government they are out of their league.

I wish that all this weren’t true. I wish it was just the irritable grumbling of someone who always sees the worst. Unfortunately, there’s no chance of that.

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