Opinion |

Bennett the Wise, Bibi the Wicked

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
Naftali Bennett and Idit Silman in the Knesset.
Naftali Bennett and Idit Silman in the Knesset. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

The wise one. He has suffered poisonous attacks from the bullies on the right and defamation from the pro-Netanyahu journalists. But Naftali Bennett is a wise leader who has – so far – kept together an impossible governing coalition with opposing views and a razor-thin majority, at best.

He has also shown impressive political skill by becoming prime minister while heading a party with only seven Knesset seats, and he has put the good of the kingdom before his own.

He and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman have reignited the economy, passed a budget and achieved high growth and low unemployment. Bennett and Yair Lapid have formed a surprising alliance with United Arab List chief Mansour Abbas. Bennett has revived ties with Egypt, Jordan and the United States, transferred billions to beef up the military, fought terrorism uncompromisingly, dealt with the Iranian nuclear agreement and mediated between Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin.

That’s why it’s funny to hear two-bit journalists blame him for Idit Silman’s treacherous departure from the coalition because he “neglected his party” while addressing all those minor affairs mentioned above.

So let’s be clear. I prefer a prime minister who works for us over one who works for himself and his corruption trial, while focusing on petty politics and big tricks.

The wicked one. That’s easy, there’s no competition. Benjamin Netanyahu has proved how wicked he is by destroying the judiciary and the wider democracy, sowing division and hatred, creating a toxic atmosphere and now, by dancing on the blood of terrorist attacks.

He claims that Bennett is a weak leader and therefore “invites terrorist attacks,” but when he was prime minister the security situation was worse. The communities near Gaza suffered rocket barrages, missiles reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and there were many terror attacks.

We haven’t forgotten the “knife intifada” of 2015 and 2016, or the horrific images last May of Jews fleeing their homes in Lod and Acre, with synagogues, restaurants and hotels set ablaze. Bibi is a security failure. He rejected everything so as not to endanger his job.

He didn’t close the gaps in the separation barrier, he did nothing to prevent illegal Palestinian workers from entering Israel, and he didn’t prevent Hamas from arming in Gaza and Jenin. He didn’t leave the Palestinians any hope, and he didn’t act against the criminal gangs in the Arab community who now have around 200,000 guns. Instead, he blames Bennett for his failures.

The simple one. Silman’s naivety is infinite. She believes she’s guaranteed a spot on Likud’s Knesset slate and she’ll be a minister.

Maybe Defense Minister Benny Gantz should tell her how Bibi violated every agreement they signed. She should ask Moshe Feiglin whether Bibi fulfilled his promise to make him a senior minister. Maybe she should call Likud’s Nir Barkat, who urgently returned home from New York at Bibi’s request to “be appointed finance minister.”

Bibi has conned Silman. His promises are worthless.

He who does not know how to ask. Chili Tropper is an extraordinary culture and sports minister. It’s not that he doesn’t know how to ask. He simply doesn’t ask. He just does culture and sports – and a lot more.

Two years ago he donated a kidney to someone he didn’t even know. Recently he persuaded Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to allow some 100 athletes fleeing the horrors of Ukraine to enter Israel. And he hosted two of them, a gifted 9-year-old tennis player and his mother.

As the person responsible for the torch lighting on Independence Day eve, Tropper has removed all politics from the ceremony, so this year we won’t see shameful politics à la Netanyahu, who forced the Knesset speaker to let him speak at the gala. Tropper convinced Bennett not to give a speech; no video blessing either.

The ceremony will include disabled singers and dancers, and there won’t be any fireworks, so there won’t be any noise to frighten combat veterans who suffer from PTSD. Where can we find more people like this?

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