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The irreparable damage of Netanyahu-Mofaz fiasco

Looking at who won and who lost is not the way to analyze this move. The Prime Minister and his new vice premier have dealt a lethal blow to a political system that barely had any credibility left to begin with

“Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue”

— Billy Joel

When lying is something to boast about

Don’t get me wrong – there are a few things that could be good about the Bibi Netanyahu-Shaul Mofaz move that stunned us all this morning.

For example, it will give some more time for the opposition to get its act together, most probably bring about the evaporation of the pseudo-party known as Kadima and basically get rid of Yair Lapid. I can’t be honest and say these are bad things.

Remember that word. “Honest.”

But if that’s why you’re OK with this move, than you’re just not looking at the big picture. The big picture isn’t about which guy won and who made a more brilliant move. The big picture is the ever-widening gap between the public and the politicians it elects.

The big picture is the disgusting politics, reaching a new low. A political sphere that has lost any credibility whatsoever.

To think that the head of the opposition (for only a few days) could go on a rant in the Knesset calling PM Netanyahu a liar in March, and then join forces with him in May is simply outrageous.

And here’s what Mofaz wrote on his facebook wall on March 3 (my translation):

“Listen closely: I will not enter Bibi’s government. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not after I take the leadership of Kadima on the 28th of March. This is a bad, failing and deaf government, and the Kadima that I will lead will replace it in the next elections. Clear enough?”

To think that the head of the opposition can write that on his Facebook page in March and then sign a deal with Netanyahu in May – is spitting in the face of the public.

And Bibi, as prime minister, talking to the public, the press and during the Likud conference a few days ago about the elections – all the while never even intending to go to elections? You have to not give a hoot about the public to pull a trick like that. What a poker face. What hutzpah a guy has to have to even be able to do that! And not crack under the pressure!

The damage these two have done is irreparable. How can anyone take any politician, even those with good intentions (and there are a few!) seriously now?


#J14 and #Occupy

It’s this gap between the public and its elected officials that is precisely what #J14 and #Occupy are about.

Let me tell you something: there are a lot of analysts out there who are going to tell you, “Hey, calm down! It’s politics! This is all fair and square, it’s how you play the game!”

Bullshit. Sure, politics are dirty – but even politics have to have a limit, a red line, a certain connection to reality. It’s not some kind of different planet where other rules apply. Where you can lie and be considered savvy at the same time. Where the better liar you are, the farther you go. Where the more you disrespect the people, the longer you rule.

What is this, Russia?

And no, I’m not being naive. Because this is exactly what #J14 and #Occupy are coming to change.

While a whopping 80 percent of the Knesset is now sitting in the coalition, people may soon be surprised to find out that the opposition in the public, outside, is a lot higher than 20 percent.

Now we’ll have to see how this move will affect the renewal of #J14. Will it become more political? Will it be led by Labor? There were those who thought this summer would be smaller – but will people now even be angrier? And if it does turn political, is this a good thing? These questions will be answered sooner than later.

But there is a sense that now that Kadima has joined the coalition, the only ones left in the opposition – are the people.


Spitting in the face of women

Any person who gives a damn about women’s rights should be outraged at this deal, seeing as how Natan Eshel was the main architect of this fiasco. For those of you who forgot, Eshel was removed from his position as head of the Prime Minister’s Office after he admitted to holding “too close” a relationship with a female colleague, photographed beneath her skirt with his cellphone (apparently during Netanyahu’s speech in Congress) and went through her emails.

This man, despite everything, is still calling the shots.

And a lot of people are just, “oh well, whatcha gonna do?” with it.

I’m not “oh well” with this at all.

Spitting in my face, in the public’s face – and most of all, Bibi is spitting in the face of women.

Hopefully, the women of the opposition will spit back.

Not literally, of course.

Shelly Yachimovich leading Labor, Zehava Galon leading Meretz, and Tzipi Livni (who may join somehow, one way or another).

I have my issues with all three (quite a few, actually), but after last night, this trio looks like a dream compared to the disgusting male, macho, Major Lt. General, Chief of Staffs, good ‘ole boy politics of this morning.


If you’re so smart?

Netanyahu is proving to be one of the smartest and slickest politicians this country has seen since it was born. With his latest moves, he’s leaving Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres and others in his tracks.

Which makes you wonder – if the guy is so smart, so wily a politician, getting whatever he wants, how is it that he is so weak on the diplomatic front with the Arab world?

If you ask me, it’s just further proof the guy can – but just doesn’t want to.

And it doesn’t end there: Now we know that Netanyahu could not only care less about Palestinians, he couldn’t give a hoot about Israelis, either.


Winners, losers

There was a widespread assumption that these elections were a done deal, that Bibi would stay in charge. But, some polls were showing a slight movement. Lapid was biting a bit into Lieberman’s base, the right wing bloc was losing 1-2 mandates. Not enough, of course. But in four months in Israel, with the social protests coming – I think anything could have happened. Don’t know if I would have put my money where my mouth is, but still – if last night proves anything, it’s that nothing’s a done deal in Israeli politics.

But that’s old news now.

Yair Lapid must have had a hissy fit this morning. This is good. We like to see Yair Lapid have hissy fits.

He might still try to make it till the elections in Fall 2013, but I doubt he has that kind of strength to last it out. But who knows…?

Same goes for Aryeh Deri. Can he hold it out? Probably better chances for him than Lapid.

Anyway, Lapid out of the game is a good thing. Because he’s all hot air. Yet, I still would have preferred him in the Knesset to a 96-seat coalition led by fascists. (Did I mention you only need 80 MKs to overturn a Basic Law? Yeah, very positive, this move of Bibi and Mofaz. Go on, show me how this group of fascists, who went on a total assault on democracy when they were only 65 MKs is now a good thing. Show me!)

Kadima will lose even more. The similarity between this move and the one Netanyahu pulled earlier with Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s Haatzmaut is striking. Both were done because Barak and Mofaz saw the end was near – and they did all they could to delay it just a bit longer, no matter what the price. To credibility, to truth, to integrity.

Kadima will vanish into thin air, or be gobbled up by the Likud. Either way, the Big Bang of Israeli politics that Ariel Sharon began is slowly coming to an end.


More taxes

The agreement between Mofaz and Netanyahu calls for “an emergency budget.” That’s finance lingo for “more taxes.”



The Yom Kippur of Israeli media?

You have to hand it to Netanyahu and Mofaz – they kept it silent, according to some reports, for at least a week. Not one reporter managed to get a sniff of this one. And this isn’t some military action, some kind of secret intelligence operation – this is politics. Where everybody talks. And leaks (and reeks).

I’ve heard some colleagues call it the Yom Kippur of Israeli media. I wouldn’t go that far, but… it’s pretty embarrassing.


To sum things up…

For me, this is the slimiest move I’ve seen in Israeli politics.


It literally made me nauseous.

And as I said above, there may be some good things that come out of this. But ultimately, the price we, the citizens, the people, have to pay for merely a possibility of a stronger left-wing bloc, the possibility of a louder opposition, the possibility of a stronger #J14 – that price is too high.

Buying possibilities by giving up on the credibility of the whole system?

I’d rather gamble in Vegas.


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    1. Avi

      The thing that is missing here is that Netanyahu finally has the political cover to retreat back to the center. The discussions on the Tal Law can now continue unencumbered by the pressure of the Chareidim. Additionally Netanyahu finally has enough political muscle to offer more to the Palestinians. Do the math if all of the religeous parties and Yisrael Beiteinu leave the Coalition Netanyahu would still have 60 seats in the Kneset with Kadima Likud and Atzmaut. all he has to do is get one member of either Shas or Yisrael Beiteinu to defect and we might see an emergence of a centrist coalition free of severe right wing influence and the first real shot of peace for Israel in a long time.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      @Ami – Just think what a great election we will have in 2013:
      1. Ehud Barak will be toast
      2. Kadima will be toast
      3. Shelly Yachimovitch might be the person who unites the left again under an umbrella that will once again give it relevancy
      4. Yair Lapid will run and be a much more mature candidate, perhaps even a humble one
      Regarding Netanyahu’s supposed smarts – the man is smart in the same way a used car salesman is smart and can sometimes score a huge deal by selling one of his lemons for big profit. He is nothing more than a macher, a buyer and seller – in this case of political capital. He has not an ounce of imagination or creative energy, no vision and no road map. He knows how to buy and sell stuff. That’s it. He was, after all, a furniture salesman before he became Israel’s greatest living politician.

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    3. Y.

      Amending Basic Laws does not necessarily require 80 votes. It depends on whether the affected clause is “armoured” – most of them are not. For example, the Human Dignity Act is not armoured and can be ‘fixed’ with a regular vote. The Freedom of Occupation law is armoured but only inasmuch it required an explicit 61 votes to amend. It also has an explicit override clause (clause 8) requiring again merely 61 votes.

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    4. Y.

      Forgot about the emoticon… I meant “clause 8 )”.

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    5. @Y – you’re right, only some of them do.

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    6. caden

      I’ll tell you what else is disturbing. Up to and including Yitzhak Shamir you never felt that the political leadership in Israel saw politics has a money making enterprise. Now it appear they do, all of them.

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    7. Philos

      Argh!!!! What are they doing? They’re not supposed to show the preteriate and petty bourgeois that liberal democracy is a big f£££££ing lie! 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    8. Not 96 seats, surely; 94: Kadima (28), Likud (27), Beitenu (15), Shas (11), Atzmaut (5), UTJ (5), Bayit Hayehudi (3). Perhaps disputes over the Tal Law will lead to their dumping Shas and UTJ. I was disappointed to read very early this a.m. that Eli Yishai approved the deal. I would like him and Moshe Gafni to sound more nervous. Bayit Hayehudi will probably leave too, being an ad hoc groupuscule composed of sectarian cranks (even though I have a soft spot for Uri Orbach, because he has written some hilarious satires on religious zionism, initially in Nekuda and subsquently in Yediot). If all three of these religious parties departed, and Beiteinu stayed, that would knock the coalition down to 75, but at least they would all be sane.

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    9. Joel

      Thank you for summing up how I feel, Ami. I just hope people, j14, labor, anyone, will be able to translate this charade into real change -before- people really get hurt (in a war or two, for example). Sure, a catastrophic war with Iran might be the last nail in the political coffin of everyone in this coalition, but it’s still not something I hope for, just as little as I thought this was a good thing, regardless of the possible positive outcomes.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Kolumn9

      Let me read between the lines here. The valiant avant-garde of a better world are celebrating the mask being ripped from the face of the Israeli political system. Surely the people will notice and rise up as one body against their exploiters and their corrupt representatives. Surely the people shall see that to pursue these policies is madness and that joining us at the threshold of a new and better world is the only logical course. Only why do the people consistently ignore us and disagree with our conclusions? Could it be because we are wrong? Never!

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    11. max

      So this is worse and more irreparable than Peres’ “dirty trick” in 1990? 22 years of progress?
      I have no idea what the people of Israel want, but the new coalition could reflect what should have happened after the last election.
      A brilliant move, and now we’ll see whether it’ll be used constructively or destructively.
      Calling for election (ensuring your potential partner understands how much he needs you) and in parallel working on a larger coalition – win either way – isn’t dishonest, it’s calculated pragmatism meant to ensure you can act. But of course, we all know it and wish our side would be doing it…

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    12. Caro

      Really can’t understand bile against Netanyahu – Mofaz is a creep – but this isolates the loony right and can bring good consequences on the tal law, political reform and passing of budget and economic concentration reforms. Why didn’t Livni join with him in first place?

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    13. CorteZ

      I guess Livini didn’t join with him because he is clearly a shameless lying creep. He’s would have snaked her too. I’m not sure if this isolates the right if Mofaz himself is actually the right and if hes only few degrees away from the extreme right. If it becomes politically advantageous who knows how far he’ll go.

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    14. Kolumn9

      Livni didn’t join because she presumed that Bibi’s government would collapse at some point due to conflicts with the Americans or settlers or Haredim and she can swoop in to pick up the remains. This was not an unreasonable idea given that the right often falls precisely in such circumstances. She had to stay in the opposition to be considered a credible alternative to Bibi. She underestimated Bibi, who is probably the best politician (not leader) that Israel has ever had. He is way better at politics than Peres in his prime.

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    15. AYLA

      Thanks, Ami. Just when I’d decided to figure out this political system in order to be a responsible voter–even gathering online and offline teachers (friends), it turns itself upside down again. Every day here, I’m just like: How can they DO that? Hello? People?!?
      thanks for breaking it down. I’d only challenge one idea: maybe, just maybe, if revolution were strong enough, this would be worth it. You know: sometimes you need rock bottom to recover. But it’s awfully quiet out there. So quiet, you could hear an army plane breaking the sound barrier.

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    16. XYZ

      Is lying truly bad? Could someone please explain to me why Sharon lying in the 2003 election when he promised NOT to destroy Gush Katif after saying “Netzarim is like Tel Aviv” and he won the election based on the pledge turning around and doing the opposite, and finally breaking up the Likud is NOT bad?
      Is it that lying for US is okay, but lying for THEM is bad, or is lying bad, period?

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    17. Cortez

      “She underestimated Bibi, who is probably the best politician (not leader) that Israel has ever had. He is way better at politics than Peres in his prime.”
      I don’t thinks she underestimated bibi as much as mis-estimated where the Israeli public stood today on major issues. She could have pandered harder and she certainly had the platform to do so.
      Well all politicians lie as a function of their job but it’s the extent to which they lie and how that affects the political system that is highly problematic. Mofaz subverted the whole political system to make Kadima effectively disappear into Likud(I know it’s still alive but let’s be real…it’s a homecoming of sorts but a Trojan horse none the less). Granted I’m not sure if members of Kadima hated the idea either. The absence of large scale dissent it’s percualiar but so everything else right now.

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    18. Bea

      Your views are spot on Ami, even though these treacherous oiks always end up hanging themselves , the democracy gets ground into the mud and the consitution, confetti in the process.
      Remember the all powerful Tom de Lay, Danny, the almighty who ruled Congress for some (Clinton) years? A salesman, fertilizers – yours furniture , still a macher. Two years and a record that won’t go away.
      Yes you do have a lot of slime in your Knesset.

      Meanwhile your Mr Mofaz is in serious need of psychiatric help!

      Good luck chaps!

      Reply to Comment