With the first hint of a major disagreement breaking out between the two main party heads in the coalition over how to amend and replace the Tal Law and becoming public, it signals the beginning of egomaniac season with a parade of candidates all claiming to be the only leaders who can defeat Netanyahu, turn Israel back from the brink, reestablish sanity, all while healing the divisions and knowing the secret formula that will lead the Middle East into a new age of peace and cooperation which is inclusive of Israel as an accepted and equal partner. This always is an interesting period as we get to hear claims which range from simple statements promising only slight but necessary changes in direction that will, and the next few word are actually some of my favorites, establish a more equitable society closing the gap between the haves and the have nots while establishing a just and permanent peace with the Palestinians pulling Israel back from the brink of war and ending the vitriolic rhetoric of the present government. It never seems to matter that these were the exact same promises given by so many previous governments which were often replaced by the next government which also ran making these identical promises. At least this time the existing coalition which joined Netanyahu’s Likud and Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party with a collection of smaller religious and nationalist parties had not made these promises in the last election cycle, so this time it actually is an offer of an honest and real alternative. The rallying cry in the last election was simply a choice of more of the same or a radical turn and move in an almost completely opposite political and philosophical direction. The choices were more hesitant and tentative governance with Tzipi Livni and Kadima or take the chance on strong governance based on action and nationalistic inspired outlook with little compromise. This may also be the actual choice again this time, but what are the alternatives to Netanyahu which will be offered by his opponents?
The new leader who replaced Tzipi Livni at the helm of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz has announced his intentions with the simple summation of the choices stating, “All the other parties, even Yisrael Beiteinu and Labor, do not have candidates for prime minister.” He gave the promise that, “We will rally all the forces in Kadima. The Israeli public will have to decide between an alternative government under my leadership and the option that Netanyahu will be prime minister for another four years without providing an answer to Israel’s urgent problems.” Now there is a solid statement full of sound and fury while saying absolutely nothing, a purely political statement made to sound strong without any commitment which might require one to actually deliver something.
Labor chairwoman Shelly Yechimovich also announced her intentions to run to be the next Prime Minister with the promise that stated, “…after three years of Netanyahu’s government, Israel has reached unprecedented gaps between poverty and wealth.” She added that the current government gave Israel “…galloping erosion in the situation of the middle class…” along with “…an international record for employment of contract workers.” It’s good to know that the Labor Party remains one of the unchanging stalwarts of the Israeli political landscape.
On the sidelines anticipating a coming election cycle we had a verbal confrontation break out at the Jerusalem Post conference in New York this past Sunday between Environment Minister Gilad Erdan and former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. The exchange came over Environment Minister Gilad Erdan comments condemning former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin who had said that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak are “messianic” and “unfit to hold the reins of power, and giving the public a false picture on the Iranian situation. The one item in the ensuing exchange I completely agreed with and believe is the best solution to this otherwise useless arguing, that they should all just join the list of those running to be Prime Minister and put all their abrasive and accessorial rhetoric to good use and settle this before the voting public.
Well, this is just the introductory period as we do not yet know if the Tal Law discussion will rip the ruling coalition apart. This would be the perfect subject as it potentially could place many of the nationalists who favor universal service in either the IDF or something in national service areas without any exceptions for Torah studying religious Jews nor for Arabs and Bedouins; total and complete universal service inclusive of every citizen. Of course the Arab and Religious parties are not so enthusiastic of this idea. I may as well go out on a limb and express my feelings. There could be a simple addition to the new service law to replace the Tal Law which makes one provision for those who desire to be exempt from any service to their country, to Israel. Anybody should be allowed to refuse service as long as they are also willing to surrender some of the other benefits of citizenship, in particular they would be denied working in any position which requires a security clearance, also forfeit the right to vote or hold public office, and be restricted to treatment at the level of a resident alien though they would not be required to have any special papers such as Visa or Passport to remain in Israel. Citizenship should have a price as well as the obvious privileges.
Beyond the Cusp