September 26, 2023
Right Fights

Without underestimating people’s need to make money, it’s still worth looking at the things people do for a living, especially in those fields based on the core curriculum. In Haaretz’s science section a translation of a story from the British newspaper The Guardian appeared featuring an article published by the academic journal Current Biology. The Guardian headline spoke in terms of a breakthrough: “Scientists find out the best way to soothe a crying baby.”

What, in fact, the researchers at Italy’s University of Trento found was that the best way to calm a crying infant is to hold him in your arms and walk around with him for a little while. By the way, this confirms the conclusions of a team of scientists from the Institute of Education at the University of London’s University College.

Thus, human science was able to deduce what every chimpanzee knows. A similar feeling arises each time we encounter another election poll or infographic showing a “map of the blocs” that informs us with scientific authority something that everyone already knows: Nothing is going to change. The most dramatic difference between this election and the previous ones is that this time the political crisis benefits Yair Lapid, who has succeeded through political cunning to arrive at the most desirable position a politician can be in a time of crisis: caretaker prime minister.

This is the place to warn Benny Gantz – who is accustomed from his years in the army to be prepared for the last war – that it’s not enough to go first as prime minister in a rotation. It’s a conceptual error for Gantz to think that as long as he’s first and Benjamin Netanyahu goes “after him,” that he’s safe.

The trap that Netanyahu may well be laying this time is waiting for Gantz at exactly the spot where the latter is gathering his forces – in a rotation agreement similar to the one Lapid reached with Naftali Bennett. Gantz would go first, play at being prime minister for a year, then Netanyahu replaces him and calls an early election. More than the 61 Knesset seats that force him to deal with the gang from Religious Zionism, Otzma Yehudit and Noam, Netanyahu dreams of a quiet resignation: a simpleton temporarily serving as prime minister and an end to the WhatsApp that drives him crazy 24/7, thus allowing him to live off the interest from endless elections.

Be that as it may, what is abundantly clear is that Lapid simply doesn’t have the mandates to form a government – which doesn’t stop many in his camp from sulking, shouting and issuing instructions in all directions. If only all the readers of Haaretz would line up single file behind Lapid, utter not a single ideologically wrong word, not even think about Nakbas and Yemenites, and hide the opinions of those who lead them behind the toothy grin of a winner, then we would simply be victorious. As part of the punishment served up on this stage to anyone who dares to deliver conceptual goods other than the ones the customer ordered, the legend has returned of a left unable to help itself from beheading its leaders (as if someone who had his head shaved didn’t deserve it), while the right is united behind their leaders – come hell or high water.

But, in fact, you have to be blind not to see that the political crisis is in fact an internal crisis of the right. The patent for this belongs to one person alone: Avigdor Lieberman, flesh of Netanyahu’s flesh. But it carries on, thanks to Gideon Sa’ar, Bennett, Ayelet Shaked, Zeev Elkin and a long list of right-wingers. It’s reasonable to assume it will continue when the right stops arguing among itself.

Ideologically speaking, the right counts more than 70 Knesset seats. The only reason it isn’t in power is that they fight with one another no less than the left. It’s not because Gideon Levy fails to salute Lapid or because Meretz and Labor failed to merge.

We may yet get some joy from the chaos, win a mandate here and a mandate there, and perhaps Lapid will stay in power for some time longer. But to really win, you need to bring the public around to your point of view. The only way to do that is by making it clear what that point of view is, and this can only be done by free thought and discussion.

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