By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
Though I’ve voted in Israeli elections whenever I’ve been in the country, I’ve never wanted to belong to a political party. But some of the critics of recent speeches by Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon have helped to find one I might like: they call it the Party of the Frustrated.
However, my reasons for joining such a party aren’t the way the critics see it. They were upset about the biting, perhaps even vicious, attack by Barak and Ya’alon on Binyamin Netanyahu and his government. The critics try to persuade us to pay no attention to the content of the speeches because when the two were ministers of defense in Netanyahu governments. Then they said the opposite and spoke in strong support of the prime minister. Because they’re now outside and seeking a way back to power, they’re changing their tune. Their speeches are pathetic illustrations of personal frustration, not of a political alternative. (They’re accused of being the founders of the Party of the Frustrated).
Mine is also the result of personal frustration with the Netanyahu government – and with critics like Barak and Ya’alon. Not that they don’t speak the truth now but because they’re less than trustworthy. A cause of great concern is that there seems to be no way out of the present political impasse that has thwarted peace, made relations with the United States complicated to the point of being risky. The settlers in the West Bank and their supporters outside seem to be dominating the scene and putting Israel at risk.
The fact that the situation elsewhere in the world is worse doesn’t diminish my frustration. The thought of a buffoon in the White House by next January and another at 10 Downing Street later this month (when David Cameron loses the referendum and Boris Johnson takes over) is no comfort: it only turns the frustration into alarm leaving us with Vladimir Putin as our closest ally and Avigdor Lieberman (as defense minister) in charge of the Palestinians in the West Bank.
The optimists – rumour has it that there are some – tell us that change in on the way. Ya’alon and Barak, both former chiefs of staff, may return to politics and win. They may be joined by two other former chiefs of staff: Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Ganz. The former is already eligible for political office; the latter has to wait a little longer before he has “cooled off” from his previous post.