(March 20, 2019 / JNS) Blue and White leader Benny Gantz should probably thank Doria Lampel for her sharp and combative questions when she interviewed him on Tuesday.
In the brief intervals he got to talk, he kept on praising Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissankoren, giving the controversial figure the best kind of promotion he could have hoped for.
Gantz talked more about Nissankoren than about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or even about his running mates at the helm of Blue and White: Moshe Ya’alon, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi.
During the interview, Gantz categorically ruled out a scenario in which he would sit in a Netanyahu-led government, only hours after saying that he was open to the very idea.
Regardless of this 180-degree turn, the right is operating under the assumption that Netanyahu will try to forge a unity government with Gantz.
They expect that Blue and White leaders will essentially compete against one another over who arrives at the cabinet table first. Moreover, the conventional wisdom among pundits is that Blue and White has already lost the race, and this is clearly evident in its steep slide in the polls.
Did Gantz’s interview help stop the bleeding? Gantz was articulate and interesting, and he sounded like a right-winger, but it was clear that he put on an ideological mask lacked fire in his belly.
In fact, the interview underscored the biggest mistake Gantz has made in his campaign: Rather than captivate voters by presenting big and bold reforms with uplifting and positive rhetoric, he was sucked into tit-for-tat attacks and has come off as a reluctant warrior.
Gantz talked too much about security-related matters during the interview, and kept making the case for the establishment’s mediocre approach to Gaza: hit it hard when necessary and then rebuild it when calm is restored.
Unlike Gantz, Ehud Barak never had to remind people that he had been chief of general staff when he ran for prime minister in 1999.
Barak felt his military and security credentials were strong enough and focused instead on socio-economic issues during the campaign. He also promised to bring the troops home from Lebanon. Gantz hasn’t made any such concrete promise.
Gantz has been hit repeatedly over the past two weeks, but he has not been dealt a deadly blow. His campaign is still alive, even if on the verge of unraveling.
Amnon Lord is an Israeli journalist with the daily newspaper “Makor Rishon.” His articles and essays about media, film and politics have been published in “The Jerusalem Post,” “Mida,” “Azure,” “Nativ” and “Achshav.”