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What Israeli Voters Should Keep in Mind When They Return to the Ballot Box

B. Michael
B. Michael
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Gadi Eisenkot, Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa'ar speak at a news conference for the National Unity party on Sunday.
Gadi Eisenkot, Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa'ar speak at a news conference for the National Unity party on Sunday.Credit: Hadas Parush
B. Michael
B. Michael

In the run-up to the November 1 Knesset election, it’s befitting to offer a survey of the possibilities that still remain to the enlightened voter.

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Let’s start with Likud. There’s something ridiculous about the excitement that gripped people at the sight of the party’s slate, post-primary – as if a reshuffle in the order of its bullies would change its character in any way. As if David Amsalem’s sewer mouth would produce pearls that are even more putrid thanks to his high position on the ticket. Will Miri Regev add a few more decibels, or May Golan lose a few? Will Amir Ohana comprehend any better the meaning of the word “responsibility” as a result of his leap up the list?

No. Likud will remain the same Likud. A sect of foolish followers of a contemptible man, a bunch of cynics craving respect and power.

Meantime, another Likud has been born – the National Unity Party. Pretty much identical to the original, but a bit more polite. Leading it is Benny Gantz – a Hardal (Haredi Zionist) Lite. He is followed by Gideon Sa’ar – deep right. Third is Gadi Eisenkot – still an enigma. Following them are Matan Kahana – Hardal Lite – and Zeev Elkin – deep, deep right. Not exactly the party that will separate religion and state, end the terror of the settlements or hurry toward liberation from the occupation. But it’s absolutely the party (even if it swears that it won’t) that would be inclined to join up with Benjamin Netanyahu and/or his colleagues, in exchange for some kind of rotation deal.

To the list of parties that ought to be anathema to enlightened voters should be added Ayelet Shaked’s opportunist camp, that Smotrich-Ben-Gvir trash can and the bloc of egocentric parties: Shas, the United Arab List and United Torah Judaism. They will sell themselves to the highest bidder but are expensive to maintain.

Now let’s move to the other side – the side of “change.” That’s supposed to elicit hope and enthusiasm, a shift in direction and moral transformation. The problem is that the leaders of two of the parties of “change” suffer from a strange speech impediment. They are incapable, under any circumstances whatsoever, of pronouncing the word spelled out by the following letters, in the following order: O-C-C-U-P-A-T-I-O-N. Attempts to force this word from their mouths cause them respiratory distress and terrible verbal seizures.

Anyone who cannot say the word “occupation” will probably continue to ignore it. Therefore, Yesh Atid and the Labor Party are also not deserving of the enlightened voter’s support.

So who’s left? Purportedly just Meretz and the Joint List. As usual. But an intriguing little spark continues to flicker somewhere below the 3.25 percent electoral threshold: Eli Avidar. The man who has been everything: intelligence officer, businessman, diplomat, commentator, publicist, Knesset member representing Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, adviser to Ariel Sharon, Knesset candidate for Likud, very knowledgeable about Arab culture, demands the inclusion of the Joint List alliance of predominantly Arab parties into any coalition government. He has lashed out at the dishrag of the “government of change” that evaded keeping its promises to immediately pass a law disqualifying a criminal defendant from public office. He has a big and eloquent mouth and is among the few who know how to put insolent right-leaning populist television anchors in their place.

He has established his own party, Free and Democratic Israel. I haven’t managed to find its position on the decisive three issues – settlements, religion and the occupation. In short, he has all the necessary ingredients for “respect him and suspect him.” But also, everything necessary in order be intrigued by him and to keep an eye on his words and his actions. Who knows, maybe something interesting is taking root. Maybe not. But even a small touch of original color in this colorless election cycle that we unfortunately face will be welcome.

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