The bucket of cold, murky waters poured on the heads of Israel’s citizens by Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz early Tuesday is not supposed to surprise anyone or innovate a thing. Seemingly, and practically, we already learned on our flesh everything that can be learned about ugly, deceitful and narrow politics.
Yet still, as result of one’s naïve character, or maybe because we always cling to hope around here, many Israelis woke up this morning stunned and even insulted. But what do we actually want from the two glorious leaders, this impressive Netanyahu-Mofaz duo? In retrospect, the notion of early elections was anathema to both of them, with Yair Lapid’s new party rising in the polls.
The prime minister found himself pushed into a corner, as usual, and attempted to extract himself via a hasty, needless step – early elections. When he discovered, at the Likud convention, that his in-house foes are more stubborn and threatening than his other rivals, he quickly backed off, caved in, and zigzagged.
It’s hard to appreciate Netanyahu, but one can understand him. Radical Likud members are not like the High Court; one cannot get smart with them or circumvent them. Distant elections, to be followed by the Mofaz show, are quite good for Netanyahu on the domestic front. As to the price of zigzagging – undermined credibility – it’s a minor issue for Bibi. Even among his greatest fans, nobody views him as a man of principle.
While for Netanyahu the PR damage is a slight blow, in Mofaz’s case we are dealing with a freefall into a mountain. Who would dare believe the man who just crushed what was left of his integrity for a single ministerial post without portfolio and the postponement of his electoral demise?
Israelis, pick a side
How dumb could Israeli voters be in the view of an Israeli politician who already deserted a party a moment after declaring that “one doesn’t leave home,” and has now crawled back into a government he vowed to topple and replace? What significance would any agenda to ever be presented by Mofaz or members of the unclear party that drags behind him hold?
Yet this is not only about Kadima. If there is one thing that Israelis can learn from the new, disgraceful alliance between Netanyahu and Mofaz, it is this: We must sober up from our centrist dream. Just like an apartment in a luxury tower, the latest smartphone, or an all-inclusive vacation, many Israelis fantasize about (and then vote for) a nice political Center that would aim to secure everything without shaking up anything or angering anyone.
Yet the successful scheme early Tuesday is the ultimate proof of the infeasibility of this imaginary notion of “Center.” A citizen who wishes to see his or her representatives remaining true to their principles is hereby requested to pick a side: Right, Left, or something else that is blatantly clear; a side that will remain consistent, even if pragmatic, not “flexible” beyond nausea, not volatile, not opportunistic, and not deceptive.
This isn’t complicated at all; are we clear?