The political career of Benny Gantz has reached its miserable end, and for a moment, one might feel some schadenfreude, a sense of satisfaction that politics does contain rewards and punishments.
You stole the votes of people opposing Benjamin Netanyahu in order to join his government, you believed the false promises of a “rotation in the role of head of government,” you humiliated yourself in chasing perks such as a meaningless title and a prestigious official car.
You deserve everything that befell you. This includes the demonstrative exclusion from diplomatic moves made by the prime minister, falling into the trap of avoiding presentation of a state budget in order to break up the “unity,” as well as the scorn and dismissal expressed by right-wing figures, and now the failed ploy with Haim Ramon designed to subdue the judicial system, which ended up with the demolition of Kahol Lavan in a nighttime Knesset vote.
Gantz usually enjoyed some benefit of the doubt when it came to his public image, something other politicians didn’t have. People say he’s naïve, that he’s to be pitied, that he came from the army and didn’t understand politics, that he didn’t grasp how wily Netanyahu was and so on. These statements are unconvincing.
Gantz wanted to be the minister of defense, and at some point he hoped he would also be prime minister. With all due respect, it’s hard to accept arguments claiming that “he’s not a liar, he’s only foolish.”
Gantz knew exactly what he was getting into and with whom he was dealing, and he went down because of his false hopes of getting ahead.
How do I know this? I return to his maiden speech on January 29, 2019, given upon his entry into politics at the head of a movement called Hosen L’Yisrael (the Resilience Party).
Here are a few pearls, for the benefit of anyone who’s forgotten.
“I’ll immediately stop the unseemly habit in which our secret defense policy becomes a public festival, geared to getting ratings, with sensitive operations becoming a reality show.”
“The government we form will be state-oriented, not a government of royals with servants and masters, with despicable gifts and court jesters.”
“We won’t stoke hatred against one half of the nation, on the right or on the left.”
“The state-oriented government we form will show zero tolerance for corruption.”
“The very notion that a person indicted for criminal wrongdoing can serve as a prime minister in Israel is ridiculous.”
Gantz smirked and agreed to legitimize the indicted prime minister, ultimately agreeing to subordinate the judicial system to the control of the accused.
The most amazing thing is that all the bad things he listed in his maiden speech continue unabated even as he carries the title of “alternate prime minister.”
Israel is now embarking on a new election campaign, with a question looming over it: Will Netanyahu also find himself in that cycle of political reward and punishment, just like Gantz did?
Or will he once again, as on all other occasions since 2009, trounce his rivals and trample underfoot anyone vying for his throne?
His steps in recent days show that he is trying to close ranks on the right, in an attempt to bypass Gideon Sa’ar before the fissure in Likud widens and moves from the back benches to center stage. Netanyahu has been challenged for some time by the ideological right wing, which claims he is not truly committed to “reforming” the judiciary, the point of which is to justify a regime of Jewish superiority and the annexation of territory. This is why Netanyahu concocted a deal with Gantz and Ramon, meant to change the way judges are appointed, which is why he sent Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin to threaten the High Court of Justice should it dare debate the nation-state law.
Kahol Lavan did not create an alternative to Netanyahu like it promised to do.
But its very presence and impressive achievements in three election cycles deprived Netanyahu of immunity and ensured that his trial would take place. Netanyahu is embarking on his fourth campaign with opinion polls forecasting a solid majority for the right-wing bloc, but not a majority for stopping his trial.
The credit for this is due to Gantz, even though he wasted it with suicidal conduct in his relationship with Netanyahu.
Header: Israeli Defence Minister and alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz arrives at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) in Jerusalem on December 2, 2020. – KOLOMIENSKY / POOL / AFP)
Source: Aluf Benn – HAARETZ