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Lapid’s Government Must Look in the Mirror

Yair Assulin
Yair Assulin
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Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Gideon Sa’ar and Merav Michaeli at the Knesset this week.
Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Gideon Sa’ar and Merav Michaeli at the Knesset this week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Yair Assulin
Yair Assulin

As the time since the last election grows longer and the interviews and utterances from the “change” leadership accumulate, it’s becoming increasingly evident that no one from the camp which, in fact, isn’t really a “camp” and doesn’t really aspire to change, thinks they made any mistakes during the campaign.

It makes no difference who we’re talking about. I haven’t heard anyone say “I was wrong.” That I was wrong in the deepest sense of the word – I was wrong in recognizing the political reality, in adapting a political platform to it and that I was wrong in my analysis of Israeli society and the sentiments that act on it.

Likewise, I haven’t heard anyone say: If this is how the election turned out, then it’s clear I don’t understand something fundamental about the very people among whom I live and about the spirit of the age.

Before we can speak about Ben-Gvir or Netanyahu, or start a conversation bordering on antisemitism about the complexities of the Haredi community – I can only wish Israeli society would go through the same far-reaching changes as they have – it appears that those who really seek change, who really want to struggle for the Israeli soul, must first develop the fundamental tools of self-awareness, introspection, soul-searching and a sober understanding of reality. It’s not about language or a gesture of desperation but a fundamental tool of survival.

Because first and foremost they have to understand: In times like these, times of questioning and doubt, in which our conceptual and existential foundations have crumbled under our feet almost everywhere, anyone who behaves as if they have all the answers and as if they haven’t erred, is destined to fail.

There’s really no reason, and it would be very dangerous, to talk about the override clause or about the justice system or corruption or even the occupation without first asking: What is the context? What is the relevant language? Do we know how to speak it? What is the degree of public trust? What contributes to or harms the struggle?

The results of the last election, as well as the general political situation in Israel and the world, and the global economic crisis (of which Israel remains aloof) are all symptoms of far deeper changes in human consciousness, the way in which people – mainly but not exclusively the young – perceive reality.

The old paradigms are disintegrating and a new set of rules are being established. Values such as democracy, privacy, sovereignty, solidarity and God are being reformulated.

Such a discourse doesn’t give even a small opening to the big questions of our times. Those who speak it don’t really understand the situation that we’re in and certainty have no clear idea of the challenges and complexities we must contend with.

The ability to contend with urgent questions depends firstly on the ability to understand the field of battle, the forces at war and the wider context in which this fight is occurring. What in the past was in this context is no longer true today and even less true in regard to the rapidly changing reality ahead of us.

Before we attack something, we have to understand in depth what has enabled it to begin with, what allowed it to grow and develop, and on what foundations it stands. Nothing ever arises from nothing. Self-awareness and soul-searching are the basic and necessary conditions to engage in a struggle of this kind.

Those who insist on simply blaming others, who refuse to acknowledge their own deep failings and at most are only willing to own up to such and such technical omissions, only intensify the degeneration and, in the process, alienation and disintegration.

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