Historical processes sometimes occasion tremendous opportunities, or grave risks, or both simultaneously. Good statesmanship knows how to take advantage of the opportunities and to minimize the risks. For example, David Ben-Gurion established the State of Israel at a unique historical moment. On the other hand, Israel missed the opportunity to improve the situation on its northern front at the onset of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Worst of all, instead of leveraging the achievements of the Six-Day War to advance, in stages, toward a two-state solution under circumstances that were favorable for Israel, we developed a pathological delusion of messianism and the “Greater Land of Israel.”
An effort to overcome this pathology should be the main focus of the center and left in the upcoming election. Moreover, this is also the best way to repair our relations with the United States and to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
To that end, an interparty alliance should have been established, headed by Ehud Barak or a similar figure. It’s an achievable goal that had a good chance to win the election and to put Israel on the only right path toward a prosperous future in a Muslim Middle east.
Instead, the leftist and centrist parties clung to their pathology, fixated on “anyone but Netanyahu.” There’s no emphasis on a peace plan, no battle against widening socioeconomic gaps or other ills. There’s nothing but getting rid of Netanyahu, as if this were the panacea for the country’s daunting challenges.
To this I must add, without slighting anyone, that the center-left has no leading candidate with the charisma necessary to attract massive support. No one has the diplomatic skill of Netanyahu on a good day (without his foot-dragging on the Palestinian issue, his deep dive into overinterference in American domestic politics and the behavior that has landed him in court).
It’s hard not to despair over the dangerous malady beleaguering Israeli politics, which is bringing us to the polls for the fourth time in two years. But a small light in the darkness can be found in the example set by Ariel Sharon, who came to a new understanding about our circumstances and began taking steps toward a two-state solution. I believe that Netanyahu too has the potential to do this. He has even said a few times that he stands by his so-called Bar-Ilan speech, in which he voiced support for two states.
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Here is where the tragedy of the center and the left comes in: Instead of promising to support any candidate who is prepared to proceed toward such a solution, they have taken a person-based position, making “no Netanyahu” its key issue. This has pushed the prime minister into embracing the extreme right, destroying any chance that he might come to his senses.
I had though of casting an empty ballot, but that is nothing more than an evasion of responsibility. And so, I shall cleave to “the principle of hope.” Perhaps the center and the left will overcome their pathology and try to talk to Netanyahu, to persuade him to make history and to lead a two state-solution (together with the postponement of his trial), instead of sitting in the opposition, secretly biting their lips in remorse.
With heavy heart and pain in my belly, without knowing whether I grasp at straws or cling to a Cedar of Lebanon, known for its ability to regenerate after a fire, I shall give my vote to Netanyahu.