(February 20, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz took off his proverbial gloves on Tuesday, inexplicably deciding to attack Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his military service, of all things.
In a conference in which he introduced his party’s Knesset election ticket, Gantz assailed the prime minister, saying: “For an entire decade, there has been a single ruling party. This time is different. The ruler is afraid and sweating, and he and his yes men understand that this time, a new ruling party is standing against them.”
Gantz continued: “When I lay in the muddy trenches with my soldiers on frozen winter nights, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, left Israel to learn English and practice it at luxurious cocktail parties. On the days when I commanded [my soldiers] in life-threatening operations in enemy states, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, worked your way bravely and determinedly between makeup stations in television studios.
“While I trained generations of commanders and fighters, you took acting lessons in a New York studio. And during the nights of tension and stress when I fell asleep in uniform and boots, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, had the world’s most esteemed tailors taking your measurements, and returned safely to your bed in your prestigious hotel.”
“In a month-and-a-half, we will all go to choose between a ruler who has English from Boston, heavy makeup and luxury suits—and Israeli leadership, genuine, caring, not fake or artificial. Leadership that can look you in the eye,” he concluded.
Netanyahu responded with a flurry of his own, attaching a photograph of himself from his military days in a Facebook post.
“Benny Gantz, shame on you. As a soldier and officer in Sayeret Matkal, I risked my life, time after time for the country. I was wounded in a battle with terrorists. I almost lost my life in a firefight in the Suez Canal, in defense of the country you want to put at risk with a unilateral withdrawal and support for the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran. The citizens of Israel will choose between a strong right-wing government under my lead and a weak left-wing government under your lead,” he wrote.
A statement issued by the prime minister’s Likud Party said, “The election is between a right-wing government led by Netanyahu and a left-wing government headed by Gantz … [whose] only economic experience his life ended in bankruptcy. The choice is between success and failure and between right and left.”
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uzi Dayan, who was Benjamin Netanyahu’s commanding officer in Sayeret Matkal, also responded. “Gantz, you broke the pact that real warriors don’t break, and you also didn’t speak the truth. As Netanyahu’s commander, I can testify to his service in dangerous operations across the border. I call on you to apologize.”
As for his political strategy moving forward to defeat Netanyahu, Gantz said he would seek a partnership with centrist party Yesh Atid.
“Immediately after the conference, I will call my friend [Yesh Atid chairman] Yair Lapid and propose that we meet [Tuesday night] even. I’ll tell him we should put other considerations aside, and together put Israel above all else,” Gantz told the crowd.