Don’t take us there, to a fourth election in under two years. Don’t drag all of us—only three months after you formed a government—into the hatred, schisms and slander, the mud and the filth, the disgusting talk and spin and the delegitimization of entire sectors. We must not fall into those murky waters again.
We were there for three election cycles, in which we lost essential parts of our normalcy. Our language became divisive and accusatory, generalizing and belligerent. Among too many of us, hatred of others, or disputes with them, have become so inherent that they are now what defines us. Too often, we lost our ability to express personal opinions and outlooks without attacking the position of others. Only the opponent and his opinions defined and shaped us, to the point where we nearly forgot who we were.
Now this two-headed government—which promised to bandage the wounds and heal the schisms and fractures, to set up a cabinet of “reconciliation” and restore a bit of sanity and normality and remind us that alongside the warring tribes in Israeli society there is also the “tribe of Israel”—is threatening to abandon the field and deny its purpose and its promise.
We need to say frankly: The primary responsibility for what happens next rests on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Not only on him, but on him first of all. Netanyahu was chosen for the job by a large majority of Knesset members after 1.3 million citizens cast ballots for him. So the primary responsibility rests with him, not with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, his coalition partner.
Any other consideration—personal, legal, political—might be legitimate or understandable in certain circumstances, but not in the current ones of growing unemployment, physical and economic crisis that affects nearly all of us, and post trauma from three elections, each of which was bloodier than the last.
Netanyahu and Gantz: don’t choose to hold elections now. Each of you has made a huge political concession, and paid a heavy political price, for us to finally have a government that will serve us, the citizens, in one of the toughest times Israel has ever known. Holding an election now is a betrayal of us, the voters. It would mean you were putting politics before what really matters, the individual before everyone.
Sit down together. Fix what is wrong. There is plenty to be fixed. Uphold the agreement you signed. Give in a little, and mostly, have faith in each other. Roll up your sleeves and work for us, not for the sake of one political interest or another. Work together not so you look good, but so that things will be well.
If, heaven forbid, you drag all of us into another election, there is a real danger that—like in the Solomon story—you will cut the baby (us) in two, and Israeli society won’t tolerate that again.
The most important task is to once against make us a united society. Not uniform, but a society that knows how to distinguish between what matters and what doesn’t, which doesn’t see a political opponent as an enemy, but as a mistaken brother or a debate partner who wants the best for us.
We can only achieve this if your faith in each other and between ourselves is rebuilt. That is the key to success or failure. A fourth election will smash what little faith people have left in you. A fourth round now is not a choice, it is an escape.
Nadav Shragai is a veteran Israeli journalist.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.