A Way Out of the Political Gutter

There has never been a more pointless election campaign than the one being held in Israel now. The voters heard the same politicians deliver the same spiels just a few months ago, and overwhelmingly chose a right-wing, religious government. So what’s going to change now? If anything, the right can be expected to strengthen itself, picking up the five or six Knesset seats it lost in the last elections due to splinter parties like Hayemin Hechadash and Zehut that didn’t cross the threshold.
But in politics, hope springs eternal. The left-wing Labor Party, which won just six seats last time, is convinced that its problem is leadership, not an ideology that no longer has any takers, and is swept up in electing just the person who can bring it back to its glory days. The even-further-left Meretz, which knows it has no chance of winning over the Jewish public, no matter who leads it, is trying to save itself by merging with Arab parties.
And Blue and White, a curious amalgam of parties with no ideology other than “Bring Down Bibi,” is trying to convince voters that it can form a coalition even though anyone who can count to 61 knows that it can’t. (That’s because even if it repeats its success of the last elections and garners 35 seats, it can’t form a coalition without the chareidim, who won’t join Blue and White as long as Yair Lapid is its No. 2.)
If the elections were just pointless, that would be bad enough. But, already at this early stage in the campaign, the political discourse has dropped to unprecedented lows.
Moshe Yaalon, a former defense minister and No. 3 on the Blue and White list, lost it last week when he compared the Likud to Hamas, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu — a man he worked with in harmony for seven years — to a Gazan dictator. In the last elections, Yaalon and Co. accused Netanyahu of no less than treason: arranging for the sale of advanced submarines to Egypt in exchange for a few million in under-the-table payments.
Avigdor Liberman, whose ego and agenda prevented the establishment of a right-wing government after the last election, is convinced that his ticket to success is whipping up anti-religious fervor with lies about the religious parties being intent on creating a halachic state.
These hysterical tactics are preaching to the converted and, hopefully, won’t succeed in winning over voters from rival camps. If so, we can only hope that by the next elections, the politicians will have learned the lesson and we’ll have debates on the issues instead of crazed personal attacks.