2 Mar 2020

Change the System!

Gridlock isn’t confined to Washington DC and Foggy Bottom. It’s a human condition.

Even in the Holy Land.

Reading a report on Israel’s elections this week left me dizzy. Most polls show a virtual dead-heat between Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party, and challenger Benny Gantz’s Blue and White. Yet when voters were asked specifically who is best to lead the country, Netanyahu’s numbers were most impressive; in most he had at least a 12-point lead over Gantz. There is also the specter of the Arab voting bloc causing problems and making the race much narrower.

Gantz has pledged that he will not form a government with Arab parties.

So the question must be asked: why does Israel continue with a parliamentary system in which voters pick a party rather than a specific candidate? It is an important distinction because it allows a boatload of parties to paralyze the government, holding it hostage to each of their lists of desired goodies.

Israel went through a seismic change in national government in the 1970s, when Menachem Begin defeated the Labor Party. It was the first time a party (in this case Likud) other than Labor led the country.

One wishes Israel would go to a system in which voters pick an actual, living and breathing candidate. I can’t imagine that Netanyahu wouldn’t win handily.

Another flaw in their system is the presence of kingmakers like Avidgor Liberman, who can hold the country hostage by virtually deciding which lesser parties can cobble together to prevent a candidate/party (in this case Netanyahu) from forming the required 61-seat majority. Today, a story ran that Liberman claims Netanyahu told the Jordanians he would not annex the Jordan Valley, which would be the opposite of Likud’s public statements on the matter.

Liberman hates Netanyahu, so he can carry out personal vendettas.

Netanyahu’s corruption trial starts March 17, and that is also looming. During an interview this week with Mark Levin, Netanyahu seemed unusually relaxed. He was his usual charming self, in command of facts and savvy with the media. Despite a pivotal election and crucial trial, this is also the man that has seen combat, lost his brother Yonatan to terrorism, and has maneuvered through a whole host of other problems. He seems unflappable.

Let us pray for Israel this week and in the coming weeks especially, and for the man we admire, Benjamin Netanyahu.