Israel is known for its political drama. However, the last 24 hours has been the most dramatic of all. Benny Gantz’s move can be summed up as nearly Shakespearean, as he placed a political “dagger” into his number two Yair Lapid in order to join with Prime Minister Netanyahu in a unity government.
Ultimately, Lapid appeared to never see it coming. After all, he spent a year manipulating Gantz in hopes of using him to take control of Israel and now at the last second the ever dutiful Gantz, the guy who everyone always saw as a weak push over, pushed Lapid to the side.
The truth is that Gantz did not have much choice. He had followed Lapid’s advice only to be boxed into a corner and if he had gone any further would have been remembered as the guy who essentially turned Israel over to its enemies, plunging it into chaos during a global pandemic. The polls had Blue and White losing big in a theoretical fourth election and there was no way either Gantz or Ashkenazi were willing to go down in history as failures just because of the hate Lapid or Yaalon has for Bibi.
So with the political crisis at its fever pitch and the coronavirus spreading, Gantz and Ashkenazi, two generals with limited political experience woke up from Lapid’s spell and redeemed themselves and saved the State of Israel from political implosion.
There have been many twists and turns over the past year, but no one expected and ending quite like this. When I say that I mean it: no one.
The next stages involve the breaking apart of the once mighty Blue and White and the hashing out of the ministries to be dished out to all the parties involved. The Prime Minister has agreed to a rotation agreement where he will vacate his post after 18 months and in the interim, Benny Gantz will first serve as Speaker of the Knesset and then Acting Prime Minister.
Israelis have been subject to 12 months of brutal political instability that began and continued over a few politicians’ personal hatred of Bibi Netanyahu. These politicians convinced whole swathes of people that their cause was just and even convinced a few ex-generals that they could become the standard bearers for an overthrow of an internationally renowned Prime Minister.
The hate reached fever pitch as Gantz won the mandate to put together the coalition on the back of terror supporting Arabs. It was a pyrrhic victory, as it showed the country that Gantz was after all willing to be the very guy he claimed he wouldn’t be and in many people’s eyes way worse.
Hate is often times all consuming. The hate for the Prime Minister, based in personal jealousy almost brought the country to the brink of complete disaster.
All of his professional career Gantz played the role of subordinate. Even when he reached the top of the ladder as Israel’s Chief of the General Staff he dutifully carried out the orders of the government. With one move he was able to make his own decision for once and step out of the shadows of the all all consuming hatred that Lapid and Yaalon had been spewing over the last year and saved the State and found personal redemption at the same time.
The world is filled with chaos and darkness. Most of us can see the times we live in as historic as well as nerve racking. With all of that, we can learn a valuable lesson from the ending of perhaps the greatest political drama Israel has seen since its reestablishment. We often expect light to be found in the most holy of spots. However, the great Chassidic Master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov whose birthday is also today, teaches that the greatest light is found in the darkest places. Gantz’s decision to leave behind the darkness shows that even he can find the light that dwells within.