Benny Gantz
Benny GantzPhoto: Ariel Hermoni/IMoD

For several election cycles, it seems the main concern of those debating the issues has been, and remains, yes-Bibi versus no-Bibi. And they insist that Ayelet Shaked, leader of the newly constituted Zionist Spirit (ZS) party, join everyone in addressing that matter clearly and directly.

However, that is the wrong issue going forward. The real issue is yes-Gantz versus no-Gantz. Because everyone seems to be caught up in the question about Bibi, the question about Gantz is not raised and his strength seems to grow with every passing day.

While, among other aspects, there is debate concerning whether or not Bibi is a leftist in rightist garb, Gantz is clearly a leftist even as he promotes himself as “soft right.” He is actively pursuing leftist ideology regarding Judea-Samaria. He is not merely putting off annexation or freezing new construction starts for Jewish communities as Bibi did, he is actively promoting Palestinian Authority (PA) takeover of lands assigned to Jewish control under the Oslo Accords. In this way, he is working against Zionist interests in the Land of Israel.

In their hatred of Bibi, some right-wingers are promoting Gantz as an alternative. In fact, Gideon Saar has tied up his electoral prospects with Gantz. Saar claims to be against the establishment of a Palestinian state, against evacuation of Jews from Judea-Samaria, and in favor of extending Israeli law to the communities in Judea-Samaria. How, then, does he rationalize running on the same ticket as Gantz who is proud of having made positive unilateral steps bringing a Palestinian state closer to realization, who selectively implements court orders regarding demolitions of illegal construction, taking down Jewish structures while legalizing Arab buildings, on the one hand, and refusing to demolish illegal PA outposts on the other?

Saar has even been quoted as saying that he sees Gantz as “the ideal candidate to lead the next government.” How can the ideal candidate for Israel’s prime minister’s office be a Defense Minister who ordered the removal of solar panels from a yeshiva (Torah study) community only two hours before Shabbat began two days ago, leaving it suddenly in the dark without recourse? Is that a message of respect for the “Jewish” in the Jewish state that we would expect from someone who sees himself as a future prime minister?

It is not only Gideon Saar who is linking his political fortunes to Gantz. Two members of Yamina, one of the two partner-parties to the new ZS party, have been witnessed engaging in talks with him: Matan Kahana and Shirli Pinto. Both have been valued members of their party and their move to the Gantz-Saar union would be a great loss.

Tell me your company and I’ll tell you who you are

Are they considering abandoning the right-wing principles implied in such a move because it increases their chances of being in the next Knesset given that Gantz-Saar will likely win more seats than ZS? While one can certainly understand the desire to maintain one’s job, to be in the Knesset and continue to have some influence on what happens in the country, this seems a very egocentric act. Joining forces with a man who is apparently not averse to single-handedly removing the Jews from Judea-Samaria and, if he could, placing a Palestinian state on the hills overlooking the population centers of Israel, does not seem like the kind of move an honorable right wing politician would consider.

Personality versus Ideology

Many of those who are opposed to Netanyahu being the next prime minister appear willing to see Gantz run the country as the cost to be paid for getting rid of Netanyahu. Therefore, it seems prudent to steer the debate away from yes-Bibi/no-Bibi to yes-Gantz/no-Gantz. That likely will move the conversation in a different direction: away from personality to ideology, far more significant ground upon which to explore our electoral choices.

Sheri Oz is a retired family and trauma therapist living in Israel for more than 45 years.Now a freelance writer, she blogs at Israel Diaries.