Opinion: A plea to Israeli politicians from Benny Gantz’s Canadian cousin

I’m on my knees begging Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to set aside their political differences and agree to form a coalition government.

By Henry Roth

I have said before  that Diaspora Jews have no right to meddle in Israeli politics given the necessity of actually living in Israel to properly comprehend the complexity of the issues facing electors. There is also the question of ‘skin in the game’, the fact that Jews living outside Israel pay no price for the repercussions of Israeli political decisions.

I’m now going to violate my own rule.  In these extraordinary times when Israelis aren’t certain they’ll be able to have a normal life anytime soon, given that the usual rules and conventions of everyday life are being steamrollered, with their economy being battered senseless, with their enemies prioritizing waging their battle against Israel over protecting their own citizens, I’m on my knees begging Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to set aside their political differences and agree to form a coalition government.

Flip a coin to determine who will be prime minister first, use rock/paper/scissors to pick cabinet ministers, arm-wrestle to see whose policy decisions will prevail; do whatever is necessary to construct a government that all Israelis believe is acting in the interests of the state and its citizens rather than promoting parochial – and short-term – political interests.

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I don’t know Netanyahu personally but his achievements in the areas of economic development, foreign relationships and military readiness cannot be disputed.  We know that he supports this concept of a coalition, as he has repeatedly insisted.

I do know Benny Gantz because he is my first cousin (his late father and my late mother were siblings).  I am extremely proud of my incredibly courageous, accomplished and profoundly patriotic cousin, and I know Benny cares about his country more than he cares about his personal status.

I’m begging Benny to sit down with Bibi and work out a framework for a coalition that demonstrates to all Israelis that these two patriots recognize that the extraordinary and unique circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic dictate a nearly-unprecedented approach to addressing their political disagreements.

There is another reason to embrace the concept of a coalition between the two leading parties, and that is to ensure that the marginal and more extreme parties in Israel do not use their political leverage to dictate policies that may satisfy their supporters but are not necessarily the favored path forward for the majority of Israelis.

It borders on the bizarre that either of Israel’s two leading parties would seriously consider bringing the Joint List into the government, given that its Arab members frequently express disdain for the Jewish state and actively militate against Israeli interests.

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One of the things I truly admire about Israeli politics is that no matter where you are on the political spectrum, there’s a party that is almost tailor-made for your ideas and orientation, and in normal times, that variety offers everyone a credible platform – not to mention great entertainment. But these are not normal times, and what is required is a shoulder-to-shoulder united front that only Bibi and Benny can forge.

I know these two gentlemen always put Israel first.  Now, more than ever, that’s what is needed to navigate the turbulent waters ahead.