Talking Politics with the Relatives

Talking Politics with the Relatives

Guy Frenkel“So who are you planning on voting for?”

I always enjoy having the opportunity to discuss Israeli politics with a certain family member (who shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent) whenever I head up north for the weekend, usually held over the course of a series of cigarettes. A former dyed-in the wool Likudnik, he’s become something of a ‘free agent’, always remaining cryptic of where his allegiances now lie. Readers note: I originally come from a Revisionist family on my mother’s side, that arrived here during the First Aliyah, in the late 1800’s. Their reaction to my embrace of Israeli left-leaning politics ranges from the mildly amused to the indifferent. In other words, they deal with it, politely.

During the last election, when I tried to find out about his voting record from his wife (herself a repeat Labor supporter), she sheepishly told me that she didn’t divulge such information. Having lost his ardor for the Likud party and the direction it has moved in the last few years has left him without a political home. A number of his former colleagues have left  to make way for a new crop of politicians with whom he has a harder time identifying. The reason for this exodus, he insists, is Bibi’s overbearing presence in the party, (along with his wife) driving away capable politicians who would have otherwise hoped to risen in the ranks. Nonetheless, this decision has not helped him solidify a new political base.

“I’ll tell you who I won’t be voting for”, he told me ruefully. “Bujie Herzog is corrupt and Tzipi Livni is a political opportunist who jumps from party to party”. Naturally Bibi wasn’t an option given his egomania and the tendency for him to allow his wife to always get her way (“you can’t deal with matters of national security 16 hours a day, come home to someone like that, and not be influenced”). Neither was Moshe Kahlon, despite his new political sheen (sure to wear off in a few months) wholly responsible for the “cell phone revolution” that he was using as the basis for his campaign. In the end he decided, tentatively, on Yair Lapid, although this was also subject to change.

There is a feeling of ennui, of complete and utter indifference regarding the election campaign. Israelis like my relative are simply baffled by the necessity of yet another election, one that is eating into the coffers of the the budget at a time when the state can ill afford it. And worse: “Bibi’s nothing to write home about, but who else is there to take his place?  We used to have real leaders as politicians”. No other statement better encapsulates the frustration in the Israeli political arena.

Poll after poll and article after article reveal Bibi to be a perennially disliked politician–and human being–and yet he has managed to return to the the Prime Minister’s seat, time and time again. No one can avoid chalking part of that fact up to his political savvy and will to survive. Much of it, however, can simply be attributed to his being the “least worst” of the choices available. This is a small comfort to those such as myself who do not believe that the shift to the right in Israel is quite as pronounced or permanent as many perceive it to be.

Nor is the belief that only Bibi is capable of dealing with the multiple security threats particularly accurate; in the last six years we’ve seen multiple high-profile acts of terrorism, kidnappings, and two wars, one of which ranks as the second longest war in Israels history. That’s hardly what anyone would consider a stellar record.  There are signs, however that Bibi’s bad behind-the-scenes behavior may finally be his undoing, a fact that the center-left should be eager to exploit if it seeks to finally oust him from power (more on this subject in tomorrow’s post).
By | 2015-02-03T20:00:00-05:00 February 3rd, 2015|Blog|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. werner cohn February 10, 2015 at 3:26 am - Reply

    not to be pedantic or anything, but “whom” would be less jarring

Leave A Comment