Polls show that the Israeli public favors Prof. Dan Shechtman, a Nobel Prize laureate in chemistry and one of the most famous Israelis in the world, as the next president of the State of Israel. The public opinion's support for him equals or exceeds the support for political candidates.
Especially now, after the president's election process has been contaminated and degraded, his nomination appears to be the only one capable of preserving the dignity and prestige of the presidency.
The heart of the public, surveys show every time, has had enough of politicians, and especially of Knesset members. The credibility of our house of representatives is in the ground. Prof. Shechtman is far from politics and from the commotion, he is not well connected and looks like a president on behalf of morality.
The fact that not a single party supports him, and that it took him a long time to gather the 10 signatures from MKs which he needs in order to present his candidacy, only strengthens his image.
The second argument which works in favor of Prof. Shechtman is the image of outgoing President Shimon Peres. Peres is popular today not because of his opinions or stances, but because he creates a lot of respect for Israel as the president. The Israelis – from all denominations, classes and groups – are proud of their president. Peres restored the presidency's lost dignity.
So when the Israeli public examines the presidential hopefuls, it's clear that only one person can slip into Peres' shoes without any difficulties and appear on stages around the world as a wanted and respectable international personality. This person is Prof. Shechtman.
All the others are infected with an affiliation to a certain political camp, including MK Reuven Rivlin who supports a Greater Israel and whose travels around the world could spark protests. The protestors wouldn't dare interrupt Shechtman; his lectures at foreign universities are already attracting masses.
New national list of prioritiesWhen the political candidates are asked what they would like to do when they become president, they reply with worn out and unbinding slogans. Shechtman, on the other hand, has a clear agenda: He wants to be a president who will make education his top priority. A president of education.
Therefore, he is clearly perceived as a candidate with a new national list of priorities – which was the leading slogan of the social protest. He is far from the coalition games. He will be devoted to these two missions, which he is already dealing with now: Improving education in general and education for the weak in particular, and glorifying Israel around the globe.
Political experts are convinced that Shechtman has no chance of getting the majority of the votes at the Knesset. The fact is, they say, that it took him until the very last moment to collect the 10 signatures needed to approve his candidacy. Shechtman's difficulty in gaining those 10 signatures does indicate that the politicians fear the entry of an apolitical candidate into the ring. But the moment he is in the ring, the considerations will change.
When they stand alone behind the screen – as it is a secret ballot – without the horror of their party leader or faction hanging over their heads, many Knesset members may vote for Shechtman, if only in order to be able to look in the mirror later than night without feeling ashamed. If only in order to be able to tell their children proudly during the traditional Friday dinner: This time I voted according to my conscience. And if only because more than being Knesset members, they should be Israeli patriots.
Prof. Dan Shechtman is free of populism. He is a man of science, he considers things logically, he is careful not to judge hastily, he is modest, he does not preach, he does not incite, he does not attack verbally, he does not hate and does not cause hate.
Many Israelis believe that swearing him in as the State of Israel's president will signify the victory of new politics.
I believe so too.