Wanted: A 'Real Man' (Or Woman) to Lead Israel

The real man, or woman, is whoever brings Israeli society together and leads it into an era in which the multiple axes of injustice are reformed.

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Isaac Herzog and Livni at the Western Wall, December 21, 2014.
Isaac Herzog and Livni at the Western Wall, December 21, 2014.Credit: Tali Meyer
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

Isaac Herzog, the Labor Party’s chief, looks like the left-wing racehorse that’s lagging behind. He’s being hit from the left, struck from the center, whipped again and again to make him charge to victory.

He’s being yelled at to focus on social issues, to commit on the diplomatic front, to address corruption, to comment (and not to comment) on Sara Netanyahu’s antics, to lash out at the right and distance himself from the extreme left, to turn to (and away from) the Arab List, to invite collaboration with Meretz (left), Yair Lapid (center) and Avigdor Lieberman (right) and to commit not to collaborate with the prime minister.

He’s told at once that he must have Shas on board and that he won’t be able to work with the ultra-Orthodox. He’s told to put up more billboards, show more presence, stand tall and fight. People wonder if he’s charismatic enough, if he’s man enough for the job.

But what is charisma in the eyes of Israelis? Who is a “real man”?

Is it Lapid, who last time swept up 19 Knesset seats and then did nothing significant with them?

Is it Benjamin Netanyahu, who will dismantle the state just to build a coalition?

Is it Lieberman, who minces no words in calling for cleansing this country of Arabs forthwith?

Is it Naftali Bennett, who declares that he’ll never apologize for anything?

Maybe it’s Moshe Kahlon, a Sephardi among Ashkenazis, who thinks God is in the details, particularly those of a cellular-phone bill.

Herzog keeps urging us that while no one expected him to win the battle to lead the Labor Party, he showed `em. Not to mention his shot-from-the-hip maneuver to link with Tzipi Livni.

In other words, no one should dismiss him or the political animal raging inside him. Being a man seems to mean taming the beast within you and sharing with a woman on equal terms.

Then there’s Livni, who wants us to realize that a “real man” is actually a woman.

“Just not Bibi,” Livni cries. Someone needs to ask her what she means by that.

Answering the question of “Bibi or not Bibi?” in the past two years, she stood with him. Can we believe her now when she says “not Bibi”?

Election Day is not the finish line of the current political campaign. It’s the starting line. Electoral victory is necessary - but it’s not the same as leading the country.

Even putting together a coalition is not enough. For many years now we have voted in government after government, all of which have led us nowhere.

Bibi is not only Netanyahu’s nickname; it refers to an entire era. “Just not Bibi” cannot refer only to the man; it must include everything these leaderless years symbolized. It should mean removing the Bibi mindset lurking within each of us.

Whoever succeeds in this effort - bringing Israeli society together and leading it into an era in which the multiple axes of injustice, the Israeli-Palestinian, Jewish-Arab and Ashkenazi-Sephardi ones, are reformed - he (or she) will be the “real man.”

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