If you think that elections in Israel are finally over, think again, because the fun is just about to begin! The only part that’s over is election day – where people voted for what they wanted (or so they thought!). So, yes, the actual democratic process is over, but now comes the “wheeling and dealing” in an effort to make a coalition of 61 MKs. The reason why I say it’s fun is because this is the part where you see what your party is truly worth. Will your party be honest to their campaign promises and ideology, or will they sell their birthright for a bowl of lentils? In most cases, you get stuck with the lentils.
As reported in the media, the problem (again) is that Benjamin Netanyahu does not have a clear majority of 61 MKs to form a government. By doing the simple math of Likud plus Yamina (Bennett) plus Shas plus Agudah, you arrive at just 59. That is like ending a football game with the ball just inches away from the winning touchdown – close, but not close enough. However, in this game of Israeli politics (which is much more exciting than any sports event!), there is one major difference: The game is still not over!
What happens now is really quite exciting, and in simple terms is called Switching Teams. Bibi will send his top people to other “teams” in an attempt to convince at least two players to switch sides and join his team, i.e., the government. While this sounds ridiculous, most experts believe that this time he will actually succeed. This means that candidates who bashed Bibi for the last several years as a criminal will now run to him with open arms. The same people who said he couldn’t be trusted, and that Israel must have a new prime minister, will now trust him completely and make him the Prime Minister yet again. Having fun yet?
Unlike American politics, where you really know who won and who lost, Israeli politics is so much more… um, so much more… so much more exciting! (Yeah, that’s the word!) You think you lost? Think again, because you actually might have won! This is the reason why no politician concedes defeat in Israel, because the game is still not over! Gantz – who lost – may agree to form a unity government with Bibi, which means he really won! (I personally don’t think this will happen, but it’s possible.) Lieberman – whom everybody hates – may drop his ridiculous demands and join the government – and then everybody will love him! (Nah, I don’t think that will happen, but it’s possible.) Orly Levi – who did worse in all three elections than anybody predicted – may jump ship and become a minister in the government – which will mean she did better than anybody predicted! (This is a very real possibility, by the way.) You see how exciting this is?
In any case, grab your popcorn and get ready to watch the show. I predict that somehow, some way, Israel’s political chess master, Bibi Netanyahu, will figure out a way to piece together the 61 MKs he needs. When that happens, the game will finally end and then we can switch channels to watch another exciting game: the Final Four – Crazy Bernie, Sleepy Joe, Pocahontas, and Mini-Mike – as they battle it out to see who will lose to Trump. And they say politics is boring?
Am Yisrael Chai!
Shmuel Sackett is a 100% product of Queens. He was born in Middle Village and moved to KGH shortly before his bar-mitzvah. He graduated from YCQ (1975) and YHSQ (1979). He was Havurat Yisrael’s first Youth Director (4 years) and started the first 2 NCSY chapters in Queens. Shmuel made aliyah in 1990 and co-founded Manhigut Yehudit, together with Moshe Feiglin. His website is www.JewishIsrael.org Sackett is married with 6 children and 4 grandchildren. He lives in Herziliya Pituach.