April 6, 2020
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
THE LATEST ON ISRAELI POLITICS
When Americans heard that Benny Gantz had agreed to form a coalition government with Bibi Netanyahu, they were surprised as they knew almost nothing about Gantz. Netanyahu has made a special effort to cultivate American taste and influential political leaders, including the president. Consequentially, Americans are often surprised to learn how he is viewed in Israel. While considered a master politician, Netanyahu is seen as a manipulator, a flip-flopper, and is despised by many even though his rule has been positive for the country. As you probably know, he is currently under indictment and facing a trial in the immediate future.
But who is Benny Gantz? Besides being Israel’s top general, he is not well known politically. In order to bring him into perspective, I felt that reading the General’s words might be one of the best ways for you to make a judgement about him. The following is a statement he made this past week.
- I chose the only path possible at this time, a national emergency government
- I will never compromise on democracy or on the underlying principles of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White
- We are facing one of the most serious challenges in the history of our country. It is a global challenge of exceptional magnitude, and it has hit Israel at a time of crippling political deadlock and unbearable divisions — a lethal combination. Leadership has never been more necessary. Leading has never been more difficult.
- As a soldier who has dedicated my life to protecting the State of Israel, I have vowed to carry my commitment to the country forward and inform my decisions as a political leader. At this time of crisis, I had no choice but to put politics aside and choose the only path that allows us to avoid fourth elections. Because at a time like this, pulling people out to the polls again — many of whom have lost their livelihoods and are riddled with anxiety about the future — is inconceivable. I chose the only path which positions Israel to effectively fight this horrific pandemic: the path of a national emergency government.
- More than ever, Israel needs unity. Israel needs strong and capable leadership, able to relentlessly fight the coronavirus, while protecting Israel’s democracy.
- And let me state clearly: No matter how fierce the battle, I will never compromise on democracy. I will never compromise on the principles underpinning the votes of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White. … I embrace the people who feel angry. I have love for the people who feel disappointed. I respect everyone. And I personally pledge to the public: I will use every means to ensure that our attitude and our way prevail.
Perhaps, Gantz’s own perspective will paint a picture of why so many in Israel voted for him three times in a row, bringing the Netanyahu administration to a halt and forcing a compromise from both sides.
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Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise
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