Opinion |

Rinawie Zoabi, Next Time, Act Like Menachem Begin

Zehava Galon
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Meretz lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Meretz lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, on Sunday.
Zehava Galon

A few words about conscience, values and politics. I understand MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, as well as MK Idit Silman. Both have their own “synagogue,” to which they return after their work in the Knesset, and there their friends and families scold them for their participation in a government that operates contrary to the values that each of them represents. “I wanted the party to condemn the conduct of the police at the funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh; no such letter was sent,” wrote Rinawie Zoabi, rightly, in her letter of resignation.

We knew in advance that in a government like this, which is the fruit of cooperation among all the groups unwilling to sit with Kahanists, there is no possibility of a situation in which the policy that is adopted will suit everyone all the time. Such a government, if we want it to continue to exist, requires painful compromises by all its partners. Clearly these compromises cause tough ethical dilemmas for the partners.

“I can’t lend a hand to harming the Jewish identity of the State of Israel and the people of Israel,” said Silman when she announced that she would no longer support the coalition. We have to understand the pain of Rinawie Zoabi and Silman, but in the final analysis, compromises are part of the rules of the game in politics.

Therefore, with all our understanding for their conscientious misgivings, I firmly reject their conduct. Rinawie Zoabi entered the Knesset due to the decision of the Meretz convention and with the votes of Meretz members. Netanyahu once complained that a “left-wing Terah” (Eliezer Goldberg, when he served as chairman of the advisory committee on senior appointments) was disrupting his plans.

I replied that if that is the situation, he wouldn’t survive for two hours at a Meretz convention – the same convention that parachuted Rinawie Zoabi to the position. She didn’t earn it during long years of hard work and running for office like other MKs on the list, who flaunt the surveys that they say prove that the vast majority of Meretz voters support a continuation of an “Anyone but Bibi” government.

The mandates of Rinawie Zoabi and Silman don’t belong to them. Silman was brought into the Knesset on the Yamina slate only due to the decision of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. She didn’t run for the position, she has no group behind her. And both she and Rinawie Zoabi didn’t even do what basic decency requires: to inform the head of their party about the decision not to support the government.

And therefore, with all the empathy and understanding, they have to be told: If you’ve reached the conclusion that you can’t any longer, you must resign from the Knesset and allow the next in line on the slate to enter. It’s also legitimate for you to look for parties that will better suit your world view.

Rinawie Zoabi reversed her decision on Sunday, and announced she will return to the coalition. I hope that, in the future, you won’t turn yourself into a type of Orli Levi-Abekasis; Someone who systematically steals the mandate she receives and puts it into the nest of others. That’s not the way. There will be no glory in that.

You wrote in your letter that you can’t any longer. You have used the words of Menachem Begin when he reached the end of his political career. I well understand. I was really there.

But if you ever find yourself grappling with this questions again, behave like Begin: Resign. Prove to all of us that your goal is not a Knesset seat or a job, but that you acted out of pure ideology. And in that way you will be able to allow yourself to return in the future, and more importantly – you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


From the cover of 'Shmutz.'

'There Are Similarities Between the Hasidic Community and Pornography’

A scene from Netflix's "RRR."

‘RRR’: If Cocaine Were a Movie, It Would Look Like This

Prime Minister Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid's Journey: From Late-night Host to Israel's Next Prime Minister

Lake Kinneret. The high water level created lagoons at the northern end of the lake.

Lake Kinneret as You’ve Never Experienced It Before

An anti-abortion protester holds a cross in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court Leaves a Barely United States

Yair Lapid.

Yair Lapid Is the Most Israeli of All