Israel: A dearth of leadership

MKs and Others Discuss “Leadership Crisis in Israel”
by Ezra HaLevi

A Jerusalem Conference panel discussion on the topic of “leadership,” taking place on Wednesday, was one of the most anticipated segments of the annual event. Though lamenting the lack of leadership was a major theme, various diagnoses for the current leadership crisis were offered, as well as the character traits a true leader should possess. [..]

MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that on a national level, the pressures of the Israeli and foreign media upon politicians cannot be emphasized enough. “The national camp has always suffered from a deep inferiority complex. We are religious, we are reactionary, etc. etc. – the media are always putting our ideology in the corner. That is one of the reasons leaders of the right end up adopting left-wing agendas and political programs. They desire the love of the media in Israel and abroad in order to survive and in order to be written up by the historians…

“The reason Netanyahu gave Hevron away is due to the need for legitimization. Then the left tells us that right-wing plans are only good from the opposition. ‘Once you are in power, your world view changes,’ they say. I am always suggesting that we institute an eye test for incoming prime ministers– to make sure that what they see from here is what they will see from there [a reference to an Israeli political cliché explaining why right-wing prime ministers have consistently shifted their policies to the left after taking office –ed.].

“The right-wing political and secular leadership has failed us since the withdrawal from Sinai,” Eldad said. “There was no chance [prior to the Disengagement] that the Yesha Council struggle would lead us to victory, but the opposition to the Yesha Council had no leadership that had the abilities and resources to replace it…Amona was a formative event for Israeli society, not just the settler movement. A committee should be formed to see who led it [i.e. that is the kind of leadership we need –ed.]”

Is Netanyahu a leader? He failed the first time but we are left with no choice but to give him a second chance.
“There is simply no leadership today,” Eldad said. “Is Netanyahu a leader? He failed the first time, but we are left with no choice but to give him a second chance. We have nobody else. But someone who thinks that putting Netanyahu back in power will change anything for the better will be in for a surprise.”

“In the National Union, there is no leadership because of the built-in system that does not allow primaries. The first places on the party list are decided upon in closed rooms instead of asking the public.

“It is true that central committees are not immune to corruption, but they are the best we have. Far better than a party that does not even aspire to lead Israel. National Union aspires to be an auxiliary party that Netanyahu will hopefully rely upon to form and control the next government. Our starting point is choosing the lesser of all evils and disqualifying ourselves from leadership of the state.

“The lack of leadership is the true crisis facing us. The Iranian threat is much simpler. The right and left can both deal with Iran. Even Amir Peretz and Shimon Peres know what has to be done, maybe later rather than sooner, but they know.

“We need a national leader without a criminal record that is not dependent on the state prosecution, the media or the opinion polls. This is our real existential test.”


March 22, 2007 | 2 Comments »

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