By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
After a traumatic crisis in a group, it’s not unusual to send in counselors to help the survivors heal. The new government of Israel will need a strong team of such experts, for it’s difficult to imagine how the prime minister will conduct business in the presence of the Terrible Two Lapid and Bennett. The fact that he’s said to prefer no deputy prime ministers if at least one of them would have had that post is indicative.
One of the counselors should have marital therapy as a specialty because it’s impossible to ignore the persistent rumours and dismiss them as idle gossip about Mrs. Netanyahu’s insistence to cramp the style of Naftali Bennett.
Another team of counselors is needed in Mr. Netanyahu’s own party, not only because several young right-wing members have been left out but even more because the veteran popular two-term right-wing speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin has been ditched by the prime minister in favour of Yuli Edelstein, remembered as a refusenik but not known as a great parliamentarian.
Rivlin is said to have set his sights on succeeding Shimon Peres as president when the latter’s term is up next year. Will Netanyahu try to thwart that, too?
The two haredi parties, now in Opposition, may need counseling. Judging by their reactions to having been kept out of the government, prayer and Torah study don’t seem to work for them. Their statements about they’ve been excluded because of unwarranted pathological prejudice against the true religion for which they claim the franchise suggest the need for psychological treatment.
And then there’re the individuals in need therapy. In addition to Rivlin, Amram Mitzna – Number Two on Tzipi Livni’s list – is bound to be distressed. He’s a former chairman of Labour who changed sides and – so I understand – and then persuaded another former chairman of the same party, Amir Peretz, to jump ship and join him, which he did and became Number Three on the same list. Now Peretz, not Mitzna, will get a ministerial portfolio.
Perhaps their party leader Tzipi Livni could also do with some counseling. She said that she didn’t want to be the government’s fig-leaf in peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It’s difficult to imagine that she’ll be more than that. But she may console herself with being minister of justice, a job she did before, apparently quite well.
Shaul Mofaz, the leader of what’s left of Kadima, who was almost in the next government won’t get there, perhaps because Lapid and Bennett insisted on a smaller cabinet or perhaps because Mofaz had a short spell in Netanyahu’s previous government and the two apparently didn’t get on.
In case anybody should think that I’ve some special information about the comings and goings of Israeli politicians, let me stress that all the above and much more of the same ilk comes from the Israeli media, even though other than therapeutic metaphors are normally deployed.
I comfort myself with the knowledge that pessimists usually enjoy things more than optimists because it’s not often that they’re disappointed. Occasionally they even end up elated when they discover that they were wrong. I can’t wait for that kind of elation, even if it means apologizing for all the miserable comments I’m making now.