Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerCourtesy
I first met Bibi in July 1985 — 38 years ago. I was in my early 30s, the national executive vice president of the American support group for Likud, then called the “Herut Zionists of America” (now “Likud USA”). Bibi, then Israel’s U.N. ambassador, was our honored guest at our annual Jabotinsky Yahrzeit gathering. He impressed. Younger Bibi was brilliant, insightful, and uncompromising.

Na’ar hayiti, gahm zakanti” — I was young, still a bit foolish, but I have grown older and wiser. Forty years does that. I now am part of a long line of distinguished Jews who no longer completely trust Bibi. But I also am not part of the dross like Avigdor Liberman, Gideon Sa’ar, Naftali Bennett, Zev Elkin, Avichai Mandelblit, and the so-many-others who got so disgusted with what they saw as Bibi’s duplicity (instead of what was widely seen as his reaction to their trying to replace him) that they turned to the Dark Side just to get even with him. I remain true: a religious Zionist, believing in G-d and His Oral Law, committed to shtei gadot, accepting a territorial compromise that replaces King Hussein with a “Palestine” entity on Jewish land east of the Jordan, recognizing as Jews only Jews who are Jews, and devoted to an Israel whose Judaic (not merely “Jewish”) character is paramount.

There is room for compromise on tactics on reaching goals. There is no compromise on principle.

If I really trusted Bibi — but I cannot — I would be entirely copacetic with the temporary delay in passing judicial reform. It has waited thirty years; it can wait three more months. Yuval Levin knows that. So do Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Simcha Rothman, the Kohelet Policy Forum, and others firmly dedicated to the reform.

In fact, there are valuable tactical positives in a three-month delay. Sometimes you agree to play the game to prove the other side are liars. A three-month delay removes any further excuse for the other side to refuse talks. As I have written here before, there is room for smoothing over sharp edges.

-As long as judges no longer can select other judges, it does not matter ultimately if a judge or two or three is included on a selection panel that always outvotes them but keeps them around, like Tevye’s fantasized third staircase “just for show.”

-As long as the Attorney-General is de-fanged, and also the unelected bureaucrats assigned as legal advisors to cabinet members, a three-month pause is fine.

-The override aspect needs to be fine-tuned anyway. Honestly: Religious Zionists are imperiled if a 61-seat Knesset majority comprised of Mansour Abbas’s Muslim Brotherhood squad, Yair Lapid’s dolts, Meretz, Labor, the religion-hating Liberman — and whatever other nukhschleppers (hangers-on) give them a bare majority for three months before they self-implode — have the power to override rulings by a truly fair and balanced Supreme Court.

So there is room to negotiate and to improve.

Any deal that has the imprimatur of Gantz, even if not Lapid, takes the steam out of the Left and its lies that democracy is on trial. On the other hand, if a month or two of negotiations leads nowhere, then the restoration of the judicial reform proposal for its second and third readings has the greater legitimacy of knowing that a fair effort was made. Hitler would not have delayed three months to explore compromise. Neither would have Obama or Biden, nor Ben-Gurion or Rabin. The legitimacy born of a readiness to explore compromise will help with “swing voters” in the next elections.

Many excellent things have emerged already from the chaos. The Left erroneously thinks the chaos has helped them only. But no, the chaos has smoked out Yoav Gallant, and now he may be out as Defense Minister - or not — but will be downgraded in Likud if not ousted. Let him join with Gantz, Boogie Ya’alon, Gabi Ashkenazi, Ehud Barak, and the other politically incompetent and moronic generals whom Israel seems to produce more plentifully than medjool dates.

Better an exposed and weakened Gallant than to have him revered inside Likud as he was a few months ago as a nationalist hero. That illusion benefited Ariel Sharon, whose true essence fooled so many on the right, and he maneuvered the reverence inside Likud to pulverize Likud and lay the foundation for Hamastan in Gaza, while uprooting 8,500 Jews, abandoning synagogues to be desecrated and set ablaze, and forcing families to dig up their deceased and buried loved ones. If only he had been exposed sooner, as Gallant now has been, before he became Likud leader. Thanks to the Left chaos, Gallant now is exposed. He tore down Jewish olive groves and orchards in Samaria, tore down the Or Chaim new Jewish community built in Samaria in memory of HaRav Chaim Druckman zt"l, and ordered that young Jewish patriots be imprisoned indefinitely without charges even after an Israeli court ordered them freed. (Remember the Leftist mass demonstrations in the hundreds of thousands against his dictatorial override of that Holy Court? Me neither.)

The Leftist chaos also has exposed Yitzchak Herzog as Israel’s most partisan president. He is an extreme leftist, as everyone should have known — and many did — before he was elected. He has devoted his entire life to leading the Labor left and to opposing Netanyahu for more than twenty years: working as aide to Ehud Barak (pleading the non-existent fifth amendment over Ehud Barak's monetary campaign shenanigans which he handled) , leading the Labor opposition, even running unsuccessfully for prime minister at the top of Labor’s ticket. He now is exposed as a partisan, and that will prove incredibly valuable as future crises arise.

Do not underestimate the Left’s gift exposing the likes of Gallant and Herzog. If only Bennett and Matan Kahane had been exposed as manifestly before the fourth round of elections, today so much of Israel’s territorial waters and natural gas deposits would not be in Hezbollah’s hands, and Lapid’s highest political attainment would have remained getting to shine General Gantz’s shoes. Instead, thanks to Bennett’s duplicity (“I will not sit with Lapid. I will not sit with Labor. I will not sit with Meretz. I will not sit with Abbas”) Lapid rose to be Israel’s shortest-serving prime minister.

It cannot be said that the Left chaos exposed the one-sided Leftist hegemony over Israel’s media: Channels 11, 12, 13, Yediot (Ynet), Maariv, and such. Everyone already knew it. The rare presence of an Amit Segal here, a Kalman Liebeskind there, as tokens of “balance” was obvious already. Yes, it is great to have them as rare voices of pro-religious conservatism. But the mainstream media’s alliance with the Left already was known. They gave hundreds of thousands of dollars of free advertising for the Leftist chaos events, even as they barely covered 100,000 pro-Reform demonstrators. Back in 2005, they failed to cover anti-uprooting demonstrations and failed to call attention to the tyrannical suppression of freedom as even youngsters were arrested without charges just to get them off the streets.

Even the words used by the leftist media promoted deceit. In 2005, they used the term for “disengagement” (hitnatkut) when the proper terms to have used would have been “uprooting” ('akirah) and “destruction” (heress) and "expulsion" (geirush). In the present, they often refused to use the word for judicial “reform,” preferring instead the word for “revolution” (mahpeikhah). And Miriam Adelson exposed her limits, too.

The Leftist chaos also has exposed which Knesset members stand firm and which bend. Yuval Levin never blinked, and Rothman was just an iota less firm. Smotrich and Ben-Gvir proved to cynics they can hold high office without selling out — and that they can do so within parliamentary rules. There was no dissent within Otzmah Yehudit or the Religious Zionist party.

On the other side, Likud Central Committee members got insights into David Bitan. Yuli Edelstein broke ranks. And Gideon Sa’ar, Bennett’s Justice Minister who gave Israel the power-obsessed tyrant Attorney-General, is definitively exposed along with Elkin and the other hopeless “New Hope” colleagues, as unworthy of returning to Likud after Bibi. They once called themselves Likud right-wingers, and Sa’ar even contended for Likud’s top spot. They now are exposed as Gantz’s cohorts, not Marxists, just mush.

Alas, Bibi himself cannot be trusted. It is sad, but maybe these past three months have proven, in his defense, that there is no way to govern Israel other than to lie to everyone around you. So many in power eventually will lie anyway. Sharon eventually will lie. Bennett eventually will lie. May as well “cut them off at the pass” and lie before they do. Maybe there is no choice. So, under normal circumstances, Bibi problematically cannot be trusted to bring the judicial reform issue back on the table at the next Knesset session in July.

But there is an important difference this time to restrain Bibi.

This is Bibi’s last stand. A dozen Sitting Bulls encircle his Little Bighorn. With four indeterminate elections behind him in three and a half years until he finally got his 64-56 majority, partly because Merav Michaeli was smitten by G-d with the irrational decision to sell out Meretz, Bibi knows that, if his government now falls, it will take five more elections before a new government is elected. He knows the Likud Central Committee will not give him five more tries. His trial will be in its sixth or seventh year by then, and it may even have ended with a corrupt conviction on bogus charges with perverted evidence mysteriously defended by a lawyer devoted to politics over client. (Is any part of that “justice system” not toxic?) So Bibi cannot let this government fall. This is his Masada. And Ben-Gvir and Smotrich can be relied on to hold him to the fire. If either breaks from the coalition, Bibi breaks. That recognition will keep him honest as in the Talmudic notion of coercing someone into saying “I want to do the right thing.” Talmud, Bava Batra 48a, Yevamot 106a.

This is the blessing of the madness of the five elections in under four years. Bibi now knows conclusively that he no longer has the option of his good old days, of bringing down his own government believing he can campaign charismatically and amass even more seats next time. This is Bibi’s last stand. It is a delight to have an honest Bibi at the wheel, who can be trusted to bring judicial reform back onto the table in three months. Smotrich and Ben-Gvir not only have earned trust through this round that they will bring down Bibi’s government if he falters on judicial reform, but — even better — Smotrich and Ben-Gvir will be keeping an eye on each other, too. If one blinks, the other sweeps in his votes.

Ah, Deh-Mo-Kraht-Yah (Democracy)! Such a beautiful thing. As H.L. Mencken famously wrote: Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

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