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The damage is done

If the right hopes to win the coming election, it must put an end to the multiplicity of political parties and interests and present a united front. Now is the time to put egos aside.

Israeli State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman attends a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 3, 2019. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman attends a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 3, 2019. Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Haim Shine

Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman’s post-election ploy will go down in history as one man’s attempt to distort Israeli democracy. As a result of this move, Lieberman has lent a hand to the few individuals at the State Attorney’s Office who, in order to bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are willing to break with precedent to redefine various felonies to suit their agenda. This type of legal “trial balloon” is a serious infringement on democracy and the will of the voters.

The results of the election for state comptroller (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s preferred candidate won) are proof that, had Lieberman fulfilled his promise to his voters, it would have been possible to establish a strong and stable right-wing coalition that would have ensured territorial integrity and the unity of Jerusalem, along with immense economic prosperity, for years to come. Yisrael Beiteinu members quickly understood the vast damage the move had caused their party and took care to film their votes.

The coming election campaign will be more difficult than its predecessor. Led by the Blue and White party, members of the left feel that by moving up the elections and working with Lieberman they could improve their showing. We got a preview of what is coming in the remarks from politicians and commentators about the election of State Comptroller Matanyahu Engleman.

Engleman has not yet taken up the role, yet they are already trying to convince the public he is a pliable lackey, a tool in the struggle for the rule of law. Because Engleman, unlike previous comptrollers, is not a judge, he is unable to make appropriate decisions, they say. But when the opposition proposed Giora Rom as their candidate for the position, no one voiced any concerns over his not being a judge. Had Rom been appointed comptroller, every single left-wing spokesperson would have praised his appointment.

Another issue that presents a challenge in the upcoming election is the uproar over United Right Knesset member Bezalal Smotrich’s unnecessary call for Israel to be governed according to Jewish law. It has been a while since I saw Lieberman and Blue and White party leader Yair Lapid with such wide grins on their faces. It is very important for right-wing spokespersons to allow wisdom to emerge victorious. Smugness can cause real damage, as Smotrich has just shown.

We were presented with proof that the right has the ability to self-destruct years ago. We have already seen how dangerous this can be for Israeli society in its entirety. The miserable 1993 Oslo Accords transformed the left into a religion without an ideology, while the right was revealed as an ideology with no religion.

There are groups on the right who are unwilling to submit, and others who in the name of vanity and arrogance sow division and cause the bloc to lose a massive amount of votes. In the election, the right lost six Knesset seats because of this internal division.

If the right hopes to avoid the fate of a beached whale, it must put an end to the multiplicity of political parties and interests. It must present a united front in a campaign for the character of the state, its vision and its path. There are times when it is appropriate to put one’s ego aside and join together to preserve territorial integrity and the unity of Jerusalem ahead of the tests that lay ahead.

As the Prophet Isaiah said, “Hark, thy watchmen! They lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see, eye to eye, the Lord returning to Zion” (Isaiah 52:8). The success of the return to Zion depends on our ability to speak in one voice. If not now, when? And if not us, then who?

This column first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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