Opinion |

This Election, It's Good Guys vs. Bad Guys

Uzi Baram
Uzi Baram
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a cornerstone ceremony for the Mobileye campus in Har Hahotzvim on August 27, 2019.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a cornerstone ceremony for the Mobileye campus in Har Hahotzvim on August 27, 2019. Credit: ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP)
Uzi Baram
Uzi Baram

After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s shocking attack on Channel 12 television, it’s clearer than ever who the good guys and the bad guys are, and the current election revolves around this choice. True, not all the good guys are very good and not all the bad guys are very bad, but you can distinguish one from the other clearly and comprehensively if you ditch the purism and look reality square in the face rather than at an angle. (For the latest election polls – click here)

It’s not an impossible dream for the right-wing bloc to win 61 Knesset seats. It’s true that most elections are termed “fateful” and “unprecedented,” but never before has such a benighted, dangerous bloc been formed here. Its formation was driven by Netanyahu’s desire to escape justice, and along the way to destroy the power of the legal system and do to the Attorney General’s Office what he has already done to the State Comptroller’s Office.

>> Read more: Support for Lieberman in liberal Tel Aviv? What we learned from talking to voters across Israel

He is hoping that a single redemptive event – a victory on September 17, with the help of a handful of Kahanists who have always been objects of derision and scorn – will help him carry out his plans. Itamar Ben-Gvir, he believes, could change the expected course of history and enable a prime minister facing three indictments (subject to a hearing) to remain in his job.

Nevertheless, Ben-Gvir is just the jewel in the crown of the governing coalition that Netanyahu seeks to form. Likud has lost any trace of independence. It’s willing to subordinate itself to the Kahanists, and also to Yamina party ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Rafi Peretz, who seek to establish a state based on religious law here, one nourished by messianic and prophetic dreams.

Their vision has no place for the current law and justice system, which represents secular values that would only distance the coming of the Zionist ultra-Orthodox redemption. And they will be joined by former justice minister Ayelet Shaked, who seeks to undermine Israel’s foundations as a state governed by law.

Opposing them is a large group that seeks to defend our secular civic institutions and prevent the creation of a state subject to Jewish law, one that would be based on a warped interpretation of Judaism in the style of Peretz and Smotrich.

True, this group isn’t homogeneous. It has no real common denominator with regard to the conflict with our neighbors or relations between Jews and Arabs within this country. But it’s time for us to learn to separate the wheat from the chaff. Anyone who opposes the tendencies of Netanyahu, Shaked and Ben-Gvir deserves complete support from the entire bloc.

Therefore, in this election, I’m refraining from settling accounts with people and trends that aren’t to my taste. I’m not bothered by all the rightists who have joined the Kahol Lavan party, because they are genuine allies on the important issues facing us in this election. MK Yoaz Hendel isn’t Gilad Erdan or Miri Regev. He disagrees with leftists’ views on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but he’s our partner in the desire to protect the principles of democracy.

I have the same favorable attitude toward Orli Levi-Abekasis. Even though it’s impossible to say she holds left-wing beliefs, she is with us in the battle over the country’s soul. That goes for Ehud Barak as well. All the unsettled accounts with him from the past, including those of Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh, are misleading, unnecessary and reflect an inability to properly distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

This election requires all of us, Jews and Arabs, to take a clear and combative stance against the right. “Combative” isn’t an empty word. It means seeking to significantly increase voter turnout in both the Arab and the Jewish community.

It’s good guys versus bad guys. This isn’t a cliché. It’s the reality we’re situated in.

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