Oh, c’mon. It’s a bad pun, but not that bad. Okay, maybe it is. How’s this instead: Take my government, please! No? Yeah, well, everybody’s a critic. And try the veal. I’m here all week.
Now that I have gotten the Borscht Belt shtick out of the way, it is with weary resignation that I read the news out of Jerusalem. The Israelis, who less than two months ago had a national parliamentary election, are now going back to the polls to do the whole thing all over again. So for three more months-plus they must endure yet another election fight.
Because as of midnight last night Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu could not get the coalition numbers he needs to form a government. In Israel’s 120-member parliament, the Knesset, Bibi’s party, Likud, won 35 seats at the recent election. The main opposition, the Blue and White Party, also won 35. But the PM’s ultra-religious and secular nationalist allies won a combined 30 to give him a slim majority.
Nevertheless, the nationalists soon criticized the Trump-allied PM because they thought Bibi was too lenient in responding to Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza. Then a fight broke out between the nationalists and the ultra-religious parties over a new bill that would end the exemption of ultra-religious males from the military draft. The nationalists, rightly so, want the thumpers to pull their fair share in defending the country. The religicos want their cushy and cowardly deal to continue. Neither would give and Bibi needed both to get to 61. Bibi blames nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman for the impasse, accusing him of wanting a new election because he thinks his party will gain more seats in a new contest. So, here we are.
This is a big defeat for Netanyahu not only on the political front. He was also angling —there is a possible corruption indictment hanging over his head— to get a bill through the Knesset that would give him parliamentary immunity from prosecution. Bad timing on that. As Israel is also our closest ally in the region, not to mention a player in next month’s planned rollout of the Trump administration’s peace plan for the area, the instability is not a boon to us either.
At any rate, it is insane, given the bad geopolitical neighborhood Israel has had to live in since its inception, to give anyone a pass from military service when the nation’s existence may hang in the balance during any armed conflict. Having a much larger population and possessing superpower status, we here can afford to exempt certain groups if it ever came to another draft. Israel does not have that luxury.
I was a twelve-year-old kid in Hebrew School in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. I remember the Arab sneak attack and the initial danger of an Israeli defeat. With it would have come the end of the Jewish state.
Thus why should average Israelis serve and possibly die to protect those who are perfectly capable, and who reap the security benefits of a strong Israeli Defense Force, but who refuse to serve?
On that issue and others Likud will fight Blue and White, and Bibi will fight Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, for the victory. Likud could perchance pick up more seats and Bibi could continue his long national leadership. However, elections, to paraphrase Wellington on Waterloo, are close-run things and three months from now the political chessboard will not appear as it does today.
On at least that, as opposed to who will eventually triumph, you can be certain.