With election day on Tuesday, April 9, in Israel, will Benjamin Netanyahu win his fourth consecutive bid (and fifth overall) to become Israel’s prime ministe Or will he be displaced by a ticket headed by Benny Gantz, two other former chiefs of staff, and former journalist Yair Lapid?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus provides a synopsis of the parties and process. Haviv Rettig Gur has a more comprehensive overview at Mosaic.

Netanyahu called for the elections in December.

Times of Israel editor, David Horovitz, wrote an extensive case against re-electing Netanyahu. Horovitz framed his argument with the question, “Is Netanyahu good for Israel?” And the only conclusion he allows you to draw is “no.”

Horowitz the prime minister’s main rival to make a viable point against another term for Netanyahu: “Benny Gantz, noted in an interview with this writer last week that the IDF, the Mossad, the police and all other such hierarchies change their leader every few years, ensuring that they evolve effectively with a constant injection of fresh thinking and vigor.”

However,  he ruined it later, by citing Gantz again: “Gantz has warned that Netanyahu is setting Israel on the path to becoming something like Turkey, where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gained ever-greater control over law enforcement and the media and “is protecting himself from investigations and from other efforts aimed at preventing corruption.”

This was irresponsible of Gantz and of Horowitz for quoting uncritically. I know prosecutors are accorded a lot of respect in Israel, but they are also human. Netanyahu knows from personal experience. When he was first elected Prime Minister in 1996, at least three of his choices were nixed because of investigations into his preferred candidates by an out of control prosecutor.

In 1999, after he lost his initial bid for reelection, Netanyahu was investigated, though the charges were eventually dropped. But these investigations (including the ones that currently threaten Netanyahu) are accompanied by frequent leaks prompting a lot of the public to prejudge the case. I fail to understand why Horovitz and other Netanyahu critics aren’t outraged by these abuses. Given his past experience, I can’t imagine why Netanyahu wouldn’t be more than a little combative about another trial in the court of public opinion.

My former boss, David Hazony, writing in The Forward, boldly predicts that Netanyahu will win again:

Israelis know death is always lurking just on the other side of bad political choices. They have lost people because of politics. And the last time they picked an ex-IDF chief of staff and political novice to run the country, in 1999, they got the Second Intifada, they got coffee shops and buses exploding, they got utter impotence in the face of rampant violence.

People died, real people, whom they once loved but now could only remember.

Whereas Horovitz wrote that Netanyahu has “alienated large parts of Diaspora Jewry,” Hazony noted, “I’d much rather have Israeli security policy dictated by the intifada-traumas of Israelis than the Holocaust-traumas of American Jews.”

Put a little differently, Netanyahu appeals to Israel as it is; many of his critics want someone for Prime Minister who appeals to their view of what Israel should be.

If Gantz wins tomorrow and gets re-elected two or three times, don’t be surprised if, in seven years time, pundits will be complaining that he is alienating Diaspora Jews.  In the end, if he is elected, Gantz will be elected to serve as Prime Minister of Israel, not some American perception of what Israel should be. And there will be no shortage of people in the future who will not forgive him for doing just that.

[Photo: IsraeliPM / YouTube ]


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