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David Ben-Gurion Photo: Knesset website
David Ben-Gurion Photo: Knesset website

Best of a bad lot

Op-ed: Upcoming elections illustrate severe leadership crisis Israel is experiencing at a crucial time in its history

Eitan Haber
Published: 01.20.13, 20:58 / Israel Opinion

Years ago an American defense secretary told an Israeli defense minister over lunch: "We send our finest attorneys to handle the billion-dollar deals with Israel – such as the plane acquisitions - and who do you, the Israelis, send? A few clerks."


The Israeli scratched his head and replied: "First of all, as far as we're concerned they are the 'best of a bad lot.' And secondly, if our attorneys are not as good as your attorneys, does that mean we will not get the planes?"

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"Yes, you will still get them," the defense secretary said, "but at what price and under what conditions?"


On Tuesday millions of Israelis will vote for the 'best of a bad lot,' as there do not seem to be any first-rate leaders out there. As usual, we will all pay the price.


The upcoming elections will demonstrate the severe crisis the State of Israel is currently experiencing. It is not an economic or diplomatic crisis; it is not a crisis with the Americans and the world and it is not related to the ticking bomb in Iran or the revolutions in our neighboring countries; rather, it is a leadership crisis. On Tuesday, millions of Israelis will vote for the 'best of a bad lot.'


It's not that we yearn for the leaders of the past, but let's take as an example someone who did not even present his candidacy for prime minister. Aryeh "Lova" Eliav achieved so much in his life, yet he never made it to the Prime Minister's Office. Yigal Alon, Moshe Dayan, Pinchas Sapir and many others also did not become prime ministers despite their most impressive achievements. Each had an incredible life story and vast experience. But the resume and experience of the leadership that stands for election on Tuesday can be summed up in just a few lines. There is not one candidate who people can support wholeheartedly and without hesitation. This week we are voting for 'the best of a bad lot.'


Therefore, there is a moral problem with the general call to go out and vote "regardless of who or what you vote for." If we believe the State of Israel deserves a great leader, a person we can only dream about, then what is the moral validity of the demand to vote for Mr. or Ms. "best of a bad lot" on Tuesday? Why vote for someone who lacks experience, and perhaps talent? This person may determine whether we will live or, God forbid, die in the coming years. Is this how we make a decision when buying a car? Or a bicycle?


The problem with the current leadership crisis in Israel is that it comes at a crucial time, when the reality around us is changing drastically: The strengthening of extremist Islam along our borders; Israel's growing isolation in the international arena due to its own actions and failures; the economic crisis in the world and in Israel; the internal problems we have yet to resolve, and more.


The State of Israel needs a leader who is a combination of David Ben-Gurion, and Menachem Begin, "Lova" Eliav and Moshe Dayan, Yigal Alon and Yitzhak Rabin, Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz and Professor Jacob Talmon, S. Yizhar and Uri Zvi Greenberg. For now we will swallow one of those pills people take before flights and go vote for the 'best of a bad lot.'



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