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Yair Lapid Photo: Yaron Brener
Yair Lapid Photo: Yaron Brener
 
 

Yair's torch

Op-ed: Elections show Israelis have had it with PR stunts, want new breed of politicians

Emanuel Rosen
Published: 01.24.13, 10:06 / Israel Opinion

The 2013 national elections produced a confused Knesset, but also a very clear message: Many Israelis from both the Right and Left, particularly the younger voters, have had it with the spin doctors and the zigzagging; they are less impressed by eloquent speeches and impressive body language and are waiting for something different, new, fresh and clean. They are waiting for people who say what they mean and mean what they say.

 

Netanyahu released the last spin into the air a moment before the polling stations opened. Kahlon, Bibi promised, will lower the cost of housing. The plan was obvious. The public believes Kahlon, so maybe it will not think this is a trick but a real revolution in housing prices. But most of the public does not believe anymore. The vast majority of Israelis despise these tricks.

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The Next Knesset will be short-lived, but it still presents hope for change. Now the onus is on those who created the impression among their voters that they represent a different kind of politics and different values. Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, and to a certain extent Shelly Yachimovich, will have to live up to the high expectations they themselves created. Their test was not the elections; their test began the day after the elections.

 

As opposed to the gimmicks of past elections, this time we can expect that maybe things will actually be different. Lapid is creating a broader agenda than his late father promoted; Bennett is not the Pensioners' Party gimmick and Yachimovich is projecting something more serious than the centrist party of the past.

 

On the eve of the elections Bennett promised that his party would not focus solely on the settlements; Lapid vowed not to serve as a fig leaf in a rightist government and Yachimovich said she would not join such a government in the first place. Those who put their trust in these three leaders want to see them make good on their promises, but even more so, they really want to see a new breed of politicians; politicians who mean what they say when they talk about lowering apartment prices; they do not want another pathetic public relations stunt.

 

The high voter turnout indicates that even within the indifferent and desperate Israeli public there is a growing desire for an Israeli version of Tahrir Square.

 

To make certain that this aspiration is not limited to a few demonstrations at the square or casting ballots, Israeli politics need a new generation of leaders. The giants - Begin, Rabin, Sharon and Peres - were replaced by Netanyahu and Barak. And despite Bibi's third term, the Israeli public, from all sides of the political spectrum, is signaling that it is waiting for something different.

 

From this perspective the next elections, which most people believe will be held in no more than two years, will be fascinating. They will put Lapid, Yachimovich and Bennett to the decisive test, and perhaps introduce a few newcomers as well. The disgusting coalition talks of the coming weeks will produce an uncontrollable government, but maybe we can still hope that something new has begun. It has yet to mature and cannot bring about real change immediately, but is exists and will try to prove itself the next time around.

 

 

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