The Israeli 'Center,' Aka the Israeli 'Right'

The ‘consensus’ covers everyone like a warm blanket: Everyone goes together to an unnecessary war, everyone adds billions in spending for defense and the settlements.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Avigdor Lieberman and Tzipi Livni.
Avigdor Lieberman and Tzipi Livni.Credit: Natasha Mozgovaya
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

It’s not the economy, stupid. Nor is it the defense. It’s that you people will never overcome the urge to be disappointed.

You’ve already chalked up considerable disappointments in the past, which enable you to make it through tough times. In every election campaign, you secure your right to lament your bitter fate as betrayed voters. If you’re not disappointed, you’re not enjoying yourselves. Will you not despair of hoping in vain this time too?

Hope is better than life, as long as it doesn’t come out of thin air. On what grounds were you tempted to believe that the columnist will promise you a future? On what grounds did you believe that the future lies with “the center”? On more than one occasion we explained that the center is a convenience stop where one visits the restroom, but the road is long and you won’t make it with coffee to go. You need high octane fuel to cover the distance to your destination.

It’s not the zero-VAT on new apartments, stupid, nor the bill about the Israel Hayom daily. It’s not the differences of opinion that brought down the government, whose ministers were actually of one mind. All of its partners, from Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman to Tzipi Livni herself, are a lot closer than they would wish to appear. “Brothers” will sit in harmony in the next government as well. Your same vote will lead to that same government of theirs. Those that were in it will be in it again.

Because the “consensus” covers everyone like a warm blanket. Everyone goes together to an unnecessary war. Everyone adds billions in spending for defense and the settlements. Everyone touts privatization – from land to natural gas. Everyone is in favor of outsourcing workers – from maintenance staff to teachers.

Everyone talks about the middle class, but no one talks about the poor. Everyone is against “infiltrators” from Africa and even the opposition doesn’t object to their detention. Even the Jewish nation-state bill would have passed unanimously, had it not been submitted in its extreme version to deliberately annoy its opponents.

Their map of the country is also the same map, with minor variations: No withdrawal from the Jordan Valley or from settlement “blocs.” The West Bank settlements of Ariel and Barkan are ours, Ma’aleh Adumim on the road to the Dead Sea is ours. Kiryat Arba is Hebron – forever. Gush Etzion and Efrat – forever and ever. And heaven forbid any discussion of Greater Jerusalem and its surroundings. That’s the “consensus.”

Never has there been a government here whose common denominator was so solid. So why are they parting ways in scandal? Not because they’re different, but because they’re alike. Benjamin Netanyahu looks at Yair Lapid, sees his own image and is filled with disgust. Both have good reason for mutual loathing. If only they had changed the sitting order around the cabinet table and the head of Yesh Atid wasn’t stuck in front of Netanyahu, the crisis might have been averted.

One could shudder at the thought that someone like him – a TV anchor and friend of millionaire big shots – would one day sit on his chair. Were I the house philosopher, I wouldn’t mock Lapid’s forelock as Steinitz did. Steinitz’s boss, after all, invests quite a bit of effort in his hair.

Until March 17 they’ll continue to deal with the who and not the what and the election campaign will smell like a sty. It won’t be “decisive” or “fateful,” because you still don’t have the sense of a last-minute emergency. As if it’s OK, at the moment, to swing in the “national consensus” hammock and enjoy life.

If these elections have any value, then the real choice is between the “extreme right,” which doesn’t believe in human rights or the High Court of Justice, and the “extreme left,” which believes in equal rights for all. It’s between a nationalist-religious front promising nothing but blood feud and a Jewish-Arab front to save our people and theirs.

It’s between annexation and staying loyal to Herzl’s vision of our homeland.
But you’re serious people, not extreme ones, people who wish themselves many more years of disappointments and groans.

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