Learning to Think Before Speaking
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
The newly formed Netanyahu Government may not survive in its current form even until the end of Obama’s term if there are many more absurd slip-ups like the one which occurred this week over Palestinians riding in buses from work in Israel to their homes on the West Bank together with Israelis. Fortunately for Bibi, saner heads prevailed over the ridiculous, patently racist—in the guise of a security necessity–recommendation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
This new coalition cannot afford too many mis-speaks if it hopes to maintain power in its current form given the tenuous nature of Netanyahu’s one seat coalition majority. The various parties as well as their internal factions have an interest in posturing to various political constituencies as it propels forth its own image for the next electoral circus.
It is not only the inherent weakness in this multi-party electoral system with which Israel has lived for 67 years, but this ugly proposal points to the underlying total lack of party discipline that the Prime Minister has within his coalition and even among his own Likud Party factions. The United States Congress and the White House today certainly do not present a picture of party discipline even with only a two party system. In Israel, the ability of key ministers to speak utter foolishness without any consideration of the consequences or a fear of being removed from power makes an utter mockery of a government’s ability to function effectively. As has happened throughout Israel’s history, individual Ministers have operated autonomously, fearless of any rebuke or loss of office. The Prime Minister’s fear of a possible dissolution of his Government were he to discipline a Minister, makes Ministers virtually totally independent operators.
This new Government has many issues on its plate both internally and regionally. It would seem that in the aftermath of a difficult battle to build a coalition, its members would understand the need not to act rashly. Considering that the first decision made by the new Government is to overturn a move by the Defense Minister does not auger well for the new Government.
Substantively for Bibi, racism appears to have had numerous manifestations of late in political circles. Bibi got slammed from within and around the world for the racist comments he made on Election Day about Arabs going to vote. The widespread international outcry that it engendered was then followed by the racist charges being made against his Government and specifically the police for its treatment of Ethiopian Jews. Given these recent events, one might have expected a more politically enlightened understanding on the part of a relatively senior Government Minister like Ya’alon.