Do the Right Thing, Herzog, and Join Netanyahu's Coalition

Now that election fever has cooled, Zionist Union must follow up its written support for Netanyahu's position on Iran with actions.

Israel Harel
Israel Harel
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Labor chairman Isaac Herzog.
PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Labor chairman Isaac Herzog.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Israel Harel
Israel Harel

Zionist Union’s recent position paper supporting the main points of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies on Iran’s nuclear program is commendable. The document, while taking issue with the style of Netanyahu’s battle, states firmly that “we are committed to a comprehensive and determined struggle to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons ... and toward that end there is neither coalition nor opposition in Israel.” Finally.

The media party waged a hate campaign against Netanyahu. Additional parties joined in, first and foremost Zionist Union, which also got carried away into using irresponsible rhetoric vis-a-vis the most basic national interests. During the election season, which coincided with the government’s fight against the developing international agreement with Iran, certain figures in Herzog’s party rejected and even dismissed and denounced Netanyahu’s stance, voicing support to Obama’s appeasement.

The foreign media, especially the American media, gleefully seized on the Israeli criticism of Netanyahu on the Iran issue. If half of Israel, including its best-known security experts, believes Netanyahu is exaggerating and in a panic, they reasoned, Obama’s appeasement must be correct.

Now that election fever has cooled, Zionist Union seems to have recovered its balance. The position paper (stressing the party’s commitment to a “comprehensive struggle” against Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons) proves that Herzog is inclined to help carry the stretcher of national interests, as this column earlier advised him to do. The slogan “our strength is our unity” is as true today as always.

Unity in Israel encourages Jews and Israel’s other allies in the United States to persist in this battle. A united Israel that keeps up the pressure, together with a determined majority in the Congress that does not permit the president to ignore the numerous holes that remain in the “understandings” reached with Iran may plug critical loopholes.

Better late than never, as the saying goes. Still, it is impossible to ignore the fact that during the election season, individuals representing large and important groups within Israeli society were incapable of rising above short-term partisan interests, even at the risk of harm to national security. Zionist Union is busy searching for the reasons it lost the election. I suggest they consider their conduct on the Iran issue, among other things. The last-minute return of voters to Likud, that is to Netanyahu, was not only out of “tribal identification” or the incitement against the “droves of Arabs streaming to the polls.” Many voters who were deeply disappointed with Netanyahu’s conduct voted for him again because they viewed the campaign messages of the left, including Zionist Union, as irresponsible, unpatriotic and anti-Zionist.

As expected, as soon as the position paper was released an aggressive attack on Herzog began. Even though he did not announce agreement to a unity government, he was already denounced as a collaborator. On social media, he was called a traitor. Apparently there are people in Israel whose hatred of Netanyahu trumps their fear for the status, well-being and even security of their country. If Herzog were Foreign Minister, goes the lament, he is liable, heaven forfend, to improve Israel’s international image. Truly a disaster. “Let Netanyahu reap the whirlwind,” suggested Uzi Baram.

Let’s assume a storm is approaching. It won’t be directed at Netanyahu personally (he has a fallout shelter). All of us — men and women, young and old — could be victims. Isn’t that the truth? If it is, then doesn’t Zionist Union have a duty to join the government in order to prevent the coming storm? Isn’t responsibility a part of Zionism?

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