I wrote this at the end of a relatively quiet week. Knesset members from the Likud didn’t insult bereaved families (on the contrary, MK Miki Zohar reconciled with the family of fallen soldier Hadar Goldin), no one attacked Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and everyone condemned the stone-throwing in Yitzhar. Even the reports about the Likud’s drag campaign were not that dramatic. Ugly election campaigns are a matter of taste. The important thing is whether the statehood required from the leadership takes over the next day, or whether a new campaign begins.
The good news is that the state has never been in a better diplomatic and economic situation. The days of 1967, before and after the war, were characterized by boycotts, an existential danger and a shaky economy. Today’s Israel is an island of stability.
The bad news is that tribalism is a political tool which has span out of control. David Ben-Gurion fought the Jewish people’s traditional tribalism through state education and military service. A melting pot. Today’s politics, which encourages tribalism, has reversed that trend. It’s what Culture Minister Miri Regev is doing, what the post-election campaigns are doing. It’s the essence of the failure, regardless of whether the excuse is the Israel Public Broadcasting Corporation, Yair Garbuz or Breaking the Silence.
If you’re looking for the reason, you’ll have no trouble finding it: Too much political success. Everything the Right predicted has been fulfilled: Don’t give them guns—they gave them, and we got rivers of blood; don’t bring Arafat back—he’s a terrorist; Gaza will turn into an incubator for terrorism. Ben-Gurion Airport is within the missile range. They said these things and did the exact opposite.
Netanyahu’s strategic outlook is correct. Most Israelis understand today that there is no one to talk too. This perception is allegedly worth 60 Knesset seats, not 30. But this is where the problem lies. A black and dark hole threatening the government when the truth is required.
Join the Likud in masses
The lack of governance in Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods. The building freeze—and the defrosting declarations. The cooperation with the Palestinians. It all comes down to the Qalqilya issue as a microcosm. Two cabinet meetings were apparently held on the issue. In neither of them were maps opened to present the Palestinians' vision in 2035. Had the maps been opened, they would have understood that Qalqilya and Tulkarm are actually a bad choice. Whoever travelled on Highway 6 and saw a large Palestinian flag hoisted over Tulkarm understands. Whoever went in there to conduct arrests understand it even more concretely.
The discussion on the Palestinian Authority’s image in two decades from now—an expanded autonomy or a state minus—has not been held and won’t be held, for fear of a decision and criticism. That’s how they deal with one city instead of the entire Judea and Samaria region, and when the questions arrive they panic and suffer from amnesia.
Last week, a senior Bayit Yehudi member showed me the construction freeze list in Jerusalem. It’s a long list. The municipality hands it over to the Prime Minister’s Office, and the approval fails to arrive. That’s the procedure. One of the clauses that caught my attention was a master plan for the Jewish Quarter—an area of consensus. In the last elections, the Likud warned that Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog would bring the Israelis to the Western Wall in armored personnel carriers. If any of them would freeze construction in the Jewish Quarter, there would be mass protests today.
US President Donald Trump’s eagerness, by the way, to send Jews to the region as peace envoys makes no difference. There have been Jews and non-Jews of all types here. In the end, the Palestinian and the Israelis are the ones left. The Palestinians dream of 1948, the Israelis can’t afford to return to the 1967 borders, and everything else is wording. The only thing that might disrupt the plans is a night which King Trump won’t be able to sleep, and the legal rope will make him search for a documented history, like a Nobel Peace Prize. All Israel needs is for Trump to sleep well at night.
With this database, it doesn’t matter who will be prime minister and which party will be the ruling one. At the end of the day, the diplomatic results will be similar. Naftali Bennett is Bibi, Bibi is Yair Lapid, and Lapid is Isaac Herzog. And they’re all the same in terms of the options on the table. It’s the same old thing under a different cloak.
So in order to distinguish between them and recruit supporters, the political base theory developed, followed by Netanyahu’s battle over Bennett’s voters instead of over the centrist voters, as we were used to in the past. And so tribalism has turned into a monster, which is only growing.
There are only two possible solutions for this situation, which is threatening Israel’s social fabric: One is a party that will become an alternative to the Likud. The kind of right-wing party the Likud used to be. Bennett is not there yet and the rest as separated and scattered, fortunately for Netanyahu.
The second option is to play outside the rules of the game: To join the Likud in masses—the new, the old, the forgotten Likudniks, or any other definition—to create power centers inside the ruling party. Why? Because that’s what the state needs. This should be done by anyone who needs it and anyone who cares about the fact that we have returned to the days of Sallah Shabati.
Forget about Jason Greenblatt, Jared Kushner and peace with the Palestinians. Here are a few words worth joining the Likud for: Statehood, unity and peace. Yes, peace between Jews.