Although it is too early to write off Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s political career completely, his (temporary?) resignation is an opportunity for reflection.
It was Ayelet Shaked who recruited Bennett for the position of Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff. Sixteen years later, Bennett was prime minister. Now, he has left Shaked alone in the arena.
Throughout his career, Bennett’s wisdom, maturity and broad vision grew and expanded. In one year alone, he went from being the leader of a small party to the prime minister. Not perfect, but not bad either, especially given the difficult political circumstances of the time. And he was a prime minister full of passion, mission and dedication to the public.
After four elections, Israel began to function again. It was slow at times, but we have discovered that the world keeps turning even after Netanyahu leaves office.
It is true that, on his way to the premiership, Bennett undermined his former party Jewish Home and went against his electorate, but perhaps this was inevitable. His journey teaches us about the process religious Zionism has undergone.
Many religious Zionists have engaged in politics and sought a leadership that put the good of the country ahead of the good of the sector. They wanted to become a mainstream political force and turn the fervor of religious Zionism into construction in Judea and Samaria, appointments to senior positions in the Israel Defense Forces and the flourishing of yeshivas and girls’ schools across the country. To no longer be a follower, but a leader.
Bennett was the first religious Zionist leader to achieve this. The first to reach the most senior political position in the country.
But Bennett’s desire to hold on to the wheel at all costs is what eventually brought about his downfall. The train did not stop at the speed he wanted and went off the rails. He remained a locomotive without train cars, a leader without a public, a prime minister who would not win enough votes in the next election to enter the Knesset.
Bennett’s “experiment” has failed, but the path Bennett paved remains open, which will help future leaders who walk in the path of Torah and morals to march in the front and lead.
Yifat Erlich is an author and investigative journalist.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.