In addition to the smokescreen of campaign promises (which have or have not been kept), the hoarse throats (of politicians and demonstrators), protests (paid for or not) at the homes of elected officials, and endless fake news, there is one simple fact: Naftali Bennett formed an impossible government in order to put an end to existing electoral chaos and bring some sanity and stability to governmental activity and the public sphere.
This fact has not received enough resonance in the public's consciousness. Because nowadays, the lot of a politician has nothing to do with the objective level of his accomplishments. He can succeed beyond all expectations, but in the media and public opinion an entirely different impression will be created by his political enemies – some doing it better and some worse. And Netanyahu knows how to do this better than anyone.
He knows, with Machiavellian cynicism, that the masses are impressionable, can be manipulated emotionally and he also knows that the masses do not dig down to the roots of things. They don't have the strength, time or critical know-how. They are busy with millions of things and have to manage to survive on their salaries. From this viewpoint, the people need a just, merciful and caring leadership. One that tells them the truth. We do not have this kind of leadership today, but there was hope that leaders would at least have limits, red lines of some sort.
But Netanyahu has no inhibitions. He is willing to take any step, use any sentence or idea with intensity and wisdom, each of which can destroy an individual's – or an entire country's – life. His desire for power is shocking, and his inner psychological makeup is embarrassingly clear: because he thinks that he brought the country great accomplishments, he can do as he wishes. He can awaken all the dark forces, fan the flames of hatred by himself or by means of loyal others, and disturb the rest of rivals in front of their homes from dawn to dark.
In the face of this well-oiled machine we have Bennett, far from perfect, but recognizably someone who wants to improve our lives. He, too, has a considerable ego, political ambitions and venom in his eyes. But he is not someone who will sell the country for his own personal interests.
He is troubled by millions of national problems, while forced constantly to put out political fires. If we factor in the fact that he is working in an explosive site, the man is in an impossible situation. When he attempts to remind us that he put a stop to the electoral chaos, or that we must try peacemaking gestures, no one listens. Everything is erased immediately by the sophisticated propaganda machine led by Netanyahu, and by his seconds – Smotrich and Ben Gvir – and their loyal followers.
But I hear his words. And I believe him.
Bennett, a true patriot, lacks Netanyahu's oratorical skills, he has no disciplined North Korean army, but on the other hand, he does have red lines. He will not sell Israel's interests in order to rule, he will not organize an army of incitement and divisiveness.
Perhaps he will be eliminated politically, but he will go down in history more significantly than Netanyahu. Netanyahu achieved impressive gains in foreign and economic spheres, but leaves no record of lasting values. On the contrary, his political legacy is destructive, whether due to incitement and the fostering of schisms or in the total failure of his internal policies including governance in the Negev or Galilee, controlling regulatory bureaucracy and improving the efficiency of public service. He knew that opposition to changes would lead to protests that might cost him votes and preferred to do nothing.
In fact, Bennett has already made history. He is the first who was willing stop governmental chaos at risk to his own future, the first who established a government made up of left and right, the beginning of unity and national reconciliation, the first who realized that incitement and national divisiveness are existential dangers.
This is what Bennett understands: if a religious Zionist, haredi, leftist and rightist cannot fight together in one tank – we are lost. This is much more important than the Abraham Accords or economic prosperity. If there is no feeling of unity, then the feeling is let someone else fight for me – I have enough to do.
Even if Bennett disappears from the political stage, the future belongs to people like him. Netanyahu, by now, belongs to the past.
Shmuel Lerman is a writer who lives in Bat Ayin, Gush Etzion.
This article was translated by Rochel Sylvetsky from the Hebrew Makor Rishon weekly