Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Netanyahu has held onto the reins of power far longer than any other Israeli prime minister. But love him or hate him, at some point Bibi must go, because barring other reasons for being deposed from the prime ministerial throne, no one lives forever. The problem is, there is no one to step into Netanyahu’s shoes, because he hasn’t groomed a successor. From Jonathan Tobin:

The defection of Likudniks under Sa’ar’s leadership to join the other former Netanyahu aides that oppose him at the head of other parties, like Bennett and Lieberman, reminds us that the prime minister has never tried to groom a successor. Indeed, he doesn’t seem to believe in the concept. That “après moi, le deluge” attitude is not only a good argument for term limits. It’s a bad look for any leader in a democracy even if, as is true of Netanyahu, his expertise in diplomacy, security and economic issues may be unrivaled.

With another election looming, the fourth since April 2019, Israelis must again ponder their electoral choices. There is no question that the right is stronger than the left in Israel right now, and has been for years, but the right has reason to be dissatisfied with Netanyahu. The right doesn’t like how Bibi has handled the situation in Southern Israel where Gaza uses Israeli citizens for target practice. They aren’t crazy about the fact that Bibi promised sovereignty in Judea and Samaria and it never happened. Aside from these issues, Likud, the party of Netanyahu, is seen as failing in its mission. Likud is supposed to be the party of Greater Israel, the party that builds in all parts of the Land, but it seems like illegal Arab building in the territories gets a pass, while Jewish homes are deemed illegal and are demolished in the blink of an eye to make a show for the EU, the UN, and fake human rights organizations, whenever they give a schrie, a shout.

Because of this situation, where Likud is deemed to be not really on the right, many voters took a chance, the last several times around, on the smaller right wing parties, which sucked away votes from Netanyahu’s party, the Likud. This necessitated the Likud wooing several smaller parties to join together as a coalition, in order to gain enough seats to form a government. As these smaller parties vie for a place in the government, Netanyahu has to be careful about divvying out political favors to rising stars on the right, lest they rise above to supplant him and usurp his place of power.

And that is how someone like Gantz, someone unseasoned and unsuited to rule, rises to power. It’s all about balancing out that coalition and those favors. Bibi dare not cede too much power to anyone else on the right, lest he lose his place and fall off the throne.

But whenever elections are announced, there are always some who will jump ship to form new parties, diluting the vote even further, and demanding more favors for the sake of joining the right wing coalition. This time, Gideon Sa’ar a longtime member of Likud, tendered his resignation from the Knesset and left the Likud to form the New Hope party. That same day, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser of the Center Right Derech Eretz party signed on with Sa’ar's party. Likud members Yifat Shasha-Biton, Michal Shir, Sharren Haskel, and Ze'ev Elkin, subsequently left the party of Netanyahu to throw in their lot with Sa’ar.

This many people coming onboard with Sa’ar tells us that the former Likudnik is attempting to form a new Likud, a party that will truly represent the right, and not fake it to make it, as the Likud, under Netanyahu, has done. This is not a new phenomenon. Many parties have sprung from the loins of the Likud. Some of the parties make it, some of them don’t. But none of these parties, and none of their leaders have succeeded in amassing the power of a Benjamin Netanyahu. And this is, in part, because Netanyahu has not groomed a successor.

It is the responsibility of a leader to groom a successor. No one lives forever. No politician can stay in power forever. If Netanyahu cares about securing the future of the Jewish State, he must prepare someone to take over from him when the time comes.

That could have been Sa’ar. But Sa’ar saw no future in the Likud, because Netanyahu gave him no hope that the former more junior member of Likud might someday succeed him. Nor did Netanyahu give hope to any other rising star in the Likud that he or she might someday rise to power.

Maybe that is because Netanyahu doesn’t see anyone in the talent pool of rising stars in the Likud who comes close to meeting the Netanyahu standard of statesmanship. And maybe there really is no one who is capable of the magic of statecraft Netanyahu-style—no one to pull rabbits out of hats, the way Netanyahu always seems to do, like when he stares down the UN . . .

 

. . . or speaks to Congress against the wishes of Obama.



But I’ll tell you this: I’ve seen Netanyahu speak, and it’s like he’s the entire room. You feel as though he’s speaking only to you. Maybe he was born that way, with a gift. Or perhaps Netanyahu was born with the potential to be a leader and someone took a chance--took him under his wing, and helped to nurture that gift.

All I know is that love or hate him, Netanyahu makes every other potential Israeli leader look small. I see no one with the gravitas to take his place. And that’s a scary thought for the future of Israel. Which is why Netanyahu must groom a successor, now. Netanyahu needs to create a leader in his own powerful image, a Bibi 2.0--except more rightwing--to take his place on that day when it will finally be time for him to step off the dais and let someone else lead the Jewish State to prosperity, peace, and success. 



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