At the current time, when all of the forces are directed at fighting Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Levin’s vandalism plan aimed at dismantling Israel’s liberal democracy, it isn’t easy to look at the opposition and its leadership with a critical eye. There is even an argument making the rounds that it’s a political camp that devours its leaders and that Netanyahu’s voters are providing him with unlimited political credit, while the leaders of the opposing camp are paying dearly for every misstep.

Proponents of this view cite as an example the magnanimity that Netanyahu supporters demonstrated regarding his long vacation in Hawaii after the government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid succeeded him. By contrast, Lapid, they say, was given a cold shower for spending a weekend this month in Paris.

The truth is that it’s an optical illusion. Netanyahu and Lapid aren’t getting different treatment from their respective political bases and the relationships among the parties in each of the two political camps is based on the needs at any given time. If anyone thinks that Religious Zionism has a strong affection for Netanyahu, I would be pleased to direct their attention to the leaked recording of comments by the party’s leader, Bezalel Smotrich, in which he called Netanyahu a liar. The tape includes it all – from confidence that Netanyahu will be convicted in his corruption case to fantasies over Netanyahu’s death.

Nevertheless, let’s admit that Netanyahu is delivering the goods. After relaxing in Hawaii, he returned to the Knesset and made life miserable for Prime Minister Bennett and sent thugs to demonstrate at the homes of the weak links in the cabinet. He waged an effective and false campaign about how the new government had provided 53 billion shekels ($15.5 billion) to the Palestinian Authority and ultimately kicked the government’s behind.

The problem that the heads of the opposing camp have is that they simply aren’t delivering the goods. If you’re wondering how many of Lapid’s Yesh Atid party’s 24 Knesset seats are an expression of appreciation for establishing his government of change, just ask your left-wing, sentimental friends. Those in the current opposition can be generous, sometimes to such an extent that they gnaw at their own limbs, as the Labor Party and Meretz can attest to, but they can also swallow up their own, as Bennett and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman can attest to.

But this time, Lapid screwed things up in a disgraceful manner, a failure that ended with the current horrifying government. Lapid’s absence from the initial protests against the government’s plans to undermine the judiciary added insult to injury. It would therefore be expected, even required, that Lapid do to Netanyahu what Netanyahu did to his government. But instead of leading, he and National Unity party leader Benny Gantz are trudging along from one test of loyalty to another that the right wing is placing before them.

They – who joined the fray in hounding civil society organizations and accused several of them of being nests of traitors – still haven’t understood that kowtowing to the right won't help – even now, when they are being called inciters of civil war.

Just a week ago, the two directed the Knesset members from their parties to vote in favor of a bill stripping terrorists of Israeli citizenship. I recall how Netanyahu’s opposition scuttled a bill pertaining to the critical Metro light-rail project and even rejected bills paving the way for visa-free travel by Israelis entering the United States.

As Likud lawmaker Miri Regev said at the time, “We decided that we’re a fighting opposition and we want to bring this government down, so there are no stomach aches here. There are no stomach aches for rape cases, no stomach aches for battered women and no stomach aches with soldiers.”

But Lapid and Gantz felt an urgency to prove that they were patriots. Faced with choosing between defending human rights or fascism, they voted with Itamar Ben-Gvir on a wickedly criminally antidemocratic bill to strip Arabs of their citizenship, reveling in praise from the Knesset speaker. And then they set out to protest on behalf of democracy and prayed that God forbid there wouldn’t be a Palestinian flag near them.

No, Lapid’s loyal base tends toward personality worship just as Netanhayu’s loyal followers do – but not all of Yesh Atid’s 24 seats represent Lapid loyalists. As was noted, many of those seats came from left-wing voters as a short-term loan, and Gantz will have a hard time with the camp that they represent. If their leadership is strengthened under such fire – all the better. But if that doesn’t help either, nothing will.

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Netanyahu’s Delivering the Goods, but the Opposition Isn’t

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25.01.2023

At the current time, when all of the forces are directed at fighting Prime Minister Netanyahu and Justice Minister Levin’s vandalism plan aimed at dismantling Israel’s liberal democracy, it isn’t easy to look at the opposition and its leadership with a critical eye. There is even an argument making the rounds that it’s a political camp that devours its leaders and that Netanyahu’s voters are providing him with unlimited political credit, while the leaders of the opposing camp are paying dearly for every misstep.

Proponents of this view cite as an example the magnanimity that Netanyahu supporters demonstrated regarding his long vacation in Hawaii after the government headed by Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid succeeded him. By contrast, Lapid, they say, was given a cold shower for spending a weekend this month in Paris.

The truth is that it’s an optical illusion. Netanyahu and Lapid aren’t getting different treatment from their respective political bases and the relationships among the parties in each of the two political camps is based on the needs at any given time. If anyone thinks that Religious Zionism has a strong affection for Netanyahu, I would be pleased to direct their........

© Haaretz


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