Herzog Is Making a Big Mistake

There is no reason to waste resources and energy on toppling a government that was legitimately elected and which represents the majority of Israelis.

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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The election result was all about ethnicity, and revenge was served up cold at the ballot box.
The election result was all about ethnicity, and revenge was served up cold at the ballot box.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

Isaac Herzog is making a big mistake.

“We’re heading for the opposition,” he declared the morning after the effort to unseat Netanyahu failed. “We’ll be a worthy alternative for an extreme right-wing government whose days are numbered.”

The only right thing to do in the opposition at this point is to wait, not count the days of this government but let it serve its full term of four years – and not one day less.

It is said of former Labor politician Yitzhak Ben-Aharon that after the upheaval of 1977 when Likud first came to power he said that the people of this country need to be changed. That is untrue. His biographer Yael Gvirtz, who listened to the original interview, has clarified that he only said that he doesn’t respect the people’s choice.

That is also wrong. One cannot believe in democracy and not respect the majority’s choice. True respect for the people’s choice means letting the chosen government remain in power for a full term, with Netanyahu as prime minister, Lieberman as defense minister and Bennett as foreign minister, Dery as interior minister, Miri Regev as education minister and Uri Ariel as housing minister.

We are faced with an historic opportunity. Yariv Levin, perhaps also a cabinet member in the incoming government, already declared right after the election results: “We will rule without fear.” He should have no fear – the right should be allowed to rule Israel guided by its values and world view. There would be something undignified, disrespectful and undemocratic in constantly trying to topple this government.

One cannot contact the designated prime minister and congratulate him, which Herzog hurried to do like a dutiful little child, and then concoct plans to topple him. Herzog and Lapid are required to let Netanyahu lead. They must not dream day and night of bringing about early elections. They must not dare dream of joining him, not now and not throughout his entire term. No one invited them to the party, they’re not wanted. They should remember this during the negotiations for forming the coalition, when Netanyahu summons them for empty talks, meant only to exert pressure on his “natural” allies in a bid to soften their demands.

These words are not written with bitterness or cynicism, but clear-headedly and soberly. There will never be another way of sharply focusing the choice facing Israeli voters on their way to the ballot box. This applies to the spheres of diplomacy, security, economics and social issues. There are no shortcuts here – even obtaining an academic degree takes a few years. The opposition does have a responsibility to perform its duty in the Knesset and outside it. The media must fulfill its role as well. However, the right must rule here unfettered. Its representatives and voters are only required to obey one democratic principle: Take responsibility and bear the results, for better or worse.

And the camp that lost? It can grieve, but not whine. It is not a “persecuted minority” or a species that’s dying out.

This whole talk of “tribes” is getting wearisome. We’re talking of a very large minority that has to rehabilitate itself, reorganize and open its ranks to new members and new voices. Meretz has concluded its historic role. Yesh Atid is now a superfluous party. The Zionist Union failed miserably in mobilizing voters from the center and the moderate right.

It’s time to unite these elements under the wings of the new democratic Israeli party, making supreme efforts to absorb into it Mizrahi Jews, immigrants, kippa wearers and Arabs who oppose the path of the right wing. This requires serious political efforts, and there is no reason to waste resources and energy on toppling a government that was legitimately elected and which represents the majority of Israelis. Give them four years.

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