Editorial

An Escalation With Iran, and Israel’s Opposition Is Silent

Benny Gantz gestures during a meeting of Kahol Lavan officials in Jerusalem, June 3, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

In Israel there is no opposition; this disturbing realization is becoming clearer. In the midst of a confrontation between Israel and Iran, which is spilling over in the Middle East, Israelis are only hearing the opinion of the government, which isn’t being challenged for a moment by those supposed to be an alternative in the upcoming election.

At a time when the military is attacking targets linked to Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and military chief Aviv Kochavi are providing details about attacks, contrary to Israel’s traditional policy of ambiguity, the public is denied a discussion on the objectives and risks of the fighting.

The opposition is remaining silent in the spirit of the sacred “quiet, we’re shooting” doctrine. What was stressed as an advantage of the Kahol Lavan party – the three generals in its top leadership – is now becoming a major disadvantage. When the cannons roar the former army chiefs remain silent as if they were still in uniform and only supposed to carry out government policy.

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Apparently Kahol Lavan’s leaders have forgotten that they were discharged from the army quite a while ago and now it’s their duty to offer the public a policy that represents an alternative to Netanyahu’s – yes, even when it comes to security, even in times of fighting and especially during an election campaign.

Timeline of events over the past week amid an escalation in the Middle East involving Syria, Iraq and Israel.
Haaretz

Netanyahu has maneuvered Israel into a course of unprecedented escalation against Iran. Some of the actions are interpreted by the enemy as a violation of the rules of the game and even a declaration of war. In the north, Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries have been deployed in force, and the level of preparedness has been raised – as the number of lethal attacks in the West Bank has increased, and the growing friction with Hamas in Gaza is once again making the lives of residents near Gaza intolerable.

Israel can’t let itself be led blindly by any leader, especially someone mired in 57 pages of criminal suspicions of corruption. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Netanyahu’s considerations are irrelevant, but in a functioning country there are supposed to be checks, balances and monitoring mechanisms, as well as alternative ideas and strategies. That’s the role of a functioning opposition: to present the people with an angle different than the one presented by the government.

Instead of unnecessary spending on media consultants and videos, a serious opposition should be informing the people about the great dangers awaiting them under Netanyahu’s rule, and presenting a significant alternative. But Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz prefers to cheer the military on Facebook and instead deliver a threat to “the Iranians and their allies in the region,” while his deputy Yair Lapid suggests “exercising disproportionate power” in Gaza.

We can only imagine what the right would do if it were conducting an election campaign from the opposition under such circumstances.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.