Opinion |

Israel's Upcoming Election – the Con Men's Reality Show

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and alternate PM Benny Gantz at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and alternate PM Benny Gantz at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 17, 2020. Credit: Adina Valman / Knesset Spokesperson's Office
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

We’ve reached the decisive stage in the Ninja competition of the 2021 politicians. A series of new, glittering, well-oiled and enthusiastic stars is beginning to flex its muscles before embarking on the obstacle course. As in “Survivor,” already now they are joining groups and tribes, and cover singers of familiar slogans to become popular with the judges and the viewers of “A Star is Born” (the local version of “American Idol”), who only have to press the right number on their cell phones.

But a closer look reveals that most of them are not really new. They are refugees from previous reality series, like Ofer Shelah “from Yesh Atid,” Gideon Sa’ar “a Likud refugee” and along with him members of the tribe – Yifat Shasha-Biton, Zeev Elkin, Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel. The spotlight is directed to the sidelines for a moment, illuminating the new discoveries who have passed the preliminary auditions, such as Ron Huldai and Gabi Eisenkot, and from the depths emerges the figure of Tzipi Livni, like the fairy godmother from a fairy tale.

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The pollsters have already started out and they are presenting the column diagrams and the pie chart showing the division between the right and center blocs (the left hasn’t been a bloc for a long time). And this dreaming team hopes that we, the community of the battered, the scarred, the depressed, the unemployed, the bankrupt, will believe them again. As though these were no longer the con men who try their confidence tricks on us again and again, and who have yet to be punished.

If we were talking about rank-and-file con men, TV presenter Haim Etgar would already be pursuing them and screaming, “How can you do that to unfortunate people, the disabled, the elderly, the handicapped?” but you can’t pursue ministers and lawmakers like that in the street. These are VIP con men. There is no clause that legally prohibits vote stealing, false promises to the public, fraudulent legislation, betrayal of a platform or political adultery.

The law does not prevent a politician from being a fool, a manipulator, a liar, or an incompetent – and there isn’t a single one of them who does not suffer from one or all of these defects. There isn’t a single one of them who didn’t commit these serious offenses, which only due to a legal lacuna are not punishable. With the exception of the candidates who are still inside the wrapping, anyone now trying to present himself as the new, or at least the improved thing, was a member of a party or a government that brought the country down to the abyss, and now is observing from the cliff and offering his towing services to the injured survivors who are crying out from the bottom of the wadi.

The next election campaign will revolve around feelings of bubbling anger and revenge. Not “for” but “against.” This election is based on a total lack of trust in the system and the candidates. The choice to be offered the public is between the bad and the less bad, between those who deserve serious punishment and those who deserve it less.

The main question that will guide them is whether to vote for those who deceived them only a little and to distance those tainted by serious crimes; whether to grant another trial period to someone who promises that this time he will behave differently, who isn’t a habitual criminal and who promises that he won’t steal the votes of the electorate – or perhaps it’s better to hand the victory to a known criminal, who can’t surprise us.

This election is personal, free of ideology and hollow chatter about lofty ideals. The main purpose is to remove the criminal leadership that has taken control of the country, and to give our votes to the person expected to have the best chances of carrying out this mission.

Ideological elections are a luxury that only democratic countries can afford – not countries that pretend to be democratic, and in which the reigning ideology is the cult of personality and the survival of the dictator and his ruling party.

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