David Ignatius of the Washington Post thinks the U.S. “could take a lesson from what’s happening in Israel” — namely the formation of a coalition government comprised of leaders holding opposite views on key issues. My view is that if there’s a lesson here, it’s not the one Ignatius draws.
The Israeli coalition government has aptly been described as “a car with four different wheels, and every wheel is going in a different direction.” The two main wheels are Naftali Bennett, who is to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu (he favors annexing the West Bank), and Yair Lapid, whom Ignatius describes as a centrist, but is probably a creature of the center-left.
In American terms, think of a coalition government headed by Ted Cruz and Kyrsten Sinema. Sound ridiculous? It does to me.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t prefer such a regime (with Cruz and Sinema taking turns in the top spot) to four years of Joe Biden. But the Democrats wouldn’t stand for this, nor would I have wanted it when Donald Trump was president.
But the absurdity of the new Israeli coalition doesn’t stop with the odd coupling of Bennett and Lapid. The government also includes the Arab party, United Arab List. In fact, according to this report, the Arab party’s head, Mansour Abbas, is expected to be the chair of the Knesset Interior Committee. This committee is in charge of security, internal security, planning, and building.
In American terms, imagine a coalition not just of Cruz Republicans and Sinema Democrats, but also Ocasio-Cortez/Omar/Tlaib Dems. Talk about wheels going in different directions. This is not what America needs.
Why has Israel opted for such a bizarre coalition? Ignatius says it’s down to a shared desire to oust Netanyahu, whom he analogizes to Donald Trump.
Actually, I think the coalition is the result of raw opportunism, especially by Bennett. But the stated rationale is Netanyahu fatigue and a desire to break the cycle of endless elections.
I’m no expert on Israeli politics. However, I doubt that a coalition this unstable will last long enough to break that cycle. As one observer says, “The only thing [the partners] agree upon is the need to get rid of Netanyahu. This objective will be achieved in the first minute of this government.”
Ignatius believes the coalition “will reinforce. . .the need for people to unite even when they disagree bitterly over policy.” I believe it will reinforce the foolishness of opportunistically pretending to do so.