This week we were informed of the entry into Israeli politics of a well known and charming TV interviewer. If our pioneering forefathers had not been so determined to completely dry the swamps of the Hefer Valley, I would recommend to the rooky politician to go out there every morning and practice swimming in thick mud for a few hours – he will develop skills that will prove essential in the Israeli political swamp.
As the new crown seeker will learn, a full head of greying hair, piercing eyes, captivating smile and a square chin, desirable as they may be in other circumstances, are not enough to transform a TV interviewer to a leader of a state in a deep national crisis. To even reach the starting line of the next elections, he will need to be a fairly junior member of a list that includes much more than Karnit Goldwaser and Tzipi Primo from Holon. The Israeli people have already seen the New Central Party movie several times – does anyone still remember Professors Ygael Yadin and Amnon Rubinstein and their Democratic Movement for Change that brought Menachem Begin to power in 1977? But not one central party succeeded in bringing together a powerful enough team to replace the governing party, not just become a coalition partner with very limited influence.
Between the two camps positioned at the opposing extremes of the Israeli political map, camps that grow demographically and become more extreme by the day, there is still a large, free, sane and educated centre whose members carry the burdens of serving in the army and in reserves and paying with sweat for mortgages, bank commissions and exorbitant prices. This centre, that was fairly silent until recently, is beginning to wake up – but there is still a long way ahead before it will become a unified electoral force that could bring upon a real change in Israeli politics. This change will depend on the ability of a new central political movement to put together a team of experts of an international calibre who will offer a real alternative to the bunch of ‘machers’ currently populating the seats of the Knesset. It will also depend on the silent Israeli majority daring to abandon on mass the tired parties of years gone by and the opportunistic factions that split from them. The sane centre still consists of over half of Israelis eligible to vote so, theoretically, they could bring about the formation of a majority government which will not be dependent on coalition partners – but, to achieve this, this centre has to make its way to the ballot boxes and to vote exclusively for a new and deserving political entity, if and when this entity will come into existence.