Benny Gantz didn’t show up at the Jerusalem District Court Sunday with Benjamin Netanyahu’s slavish ministers to express mute support for the criminal defendant. But the Kahol Lavan chairman’s response to Netanyahu’s hateful diatribe wasn’t very different from a show of support for the prime minister’s atrocious messages.
The head of the “anyone but Bibi” camp’s decision to serve under a criminal defendant was justified by the need to fight the coronavirus, heal the rift in the nation and prevent a fourth election. What does any of this have to do with Gantz’s decision to stand on the sidelines while Netanyahu was libeling members of Gantz’s bloc by saying that they, with people in the prosecution, police and media, had concocted a conspiracy to oust Netanyahu by fabricating cases?
“My colleagues and I have complete faith in the justice and law enforcement systems. At this time, perhaps more than ever, we as a state and a society must work for the sake of unity and reconciliation.” That’s all Gantz had to say about Netanyahu’s horror show, as if the justice and law enforcement systems – and not Netanyahu – had been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
If there’s anything Netanyahu’s speech proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, it’s that he intends to continue waging political war and stoking political polarization. He’s doing so by feeding the public a warped picture of reality in which the right-wing bloc is sitting beside him in the dock, persecuted simply because it’s right-wing, while the left-wing bloc is the corrupt police officer, the prosecutor, the bought judge and the hangman.
This blood libel – which is being disseminated by every possible means, on television and on social media – slowly seeps into people’s consciousness, poisons the public conversation, sows hatred and will naturally also reap violence.
At the same time, Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and their colleagues in Kahol Lavan and the Labor Party are honoring their deal with a man who is undermining the statesmanship in whose name they entered the unity government. They’re also letting him launch mud-filled rockets at state institutions, incite the public against the police and prosecution, and paint targets on the backs of the police commissioner, attorney general, state prosecutor and others.
They insist on ignoring that Israel isn’t the one lying on the stretcher they picked up, but Netanyahu. Moreover, they’ve calmly accepted the fact that the prime minister is openly inciting against people who until recently were their comrades in arms in the bloc they led until they caved.
- For the Radical Left, Gantz Is to Blame. But He Won, and Netanyahu Lost
- Gantz Says Netanyahu Will Receive Fair Trial, Expresses Faith in Law Enforcement
- What Netanyahu Did During His Investigations Is Even Worse Than the Actual Charges
Gantz must come to his senses quickly. He must stand staunchly on the side of the state institutions he promised to defend with his entry into the government. Such a stance wouldn’t end with a limp tweet but with an ultimatum to Netanyahu: Either stop undermining state institutions or find another partner with whom to destroy Israel’s democracy.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.