Friends keep asking: How do you feel? What do you think?
Me: I feel relief. I’ve got some hope. I’m sober and realistic.
That Bibi Netanyahu is no longer Prime Minister. Despite what many in liberal quarters think, he did some good things. He kept Israel relatively safe. He resisted pressure and temptation when Israel could have acted militarily more aggressively and, perhaps, recklessly. He made diplomatic inroads around the world. He solidified Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He kept Israel economically healthy and vibrant. He vanquished a deathly virus.
He even was the first right-wing Prime Minister to say, albeit with not unreasonable caveats, that Israel would accept a two-state solution. Yes, he later backed away from that for political reasons. But, if the Palestinians had grabbed the opening and worked to build a state, Netanyahu may have had no opportunity or reason to back away from his statement.
Despite that record, Netanyahu could not put together a 61 member coalition over the course of four elections in two years. Why?
Because he became poison. He became destructive. He alienated allies who he felt might compete for leadership of Likud. He broke promises left and right. He and his family began to think of themselves as entitled to the position. One post-election symptom of that feeling of entitlement: they apparently don’t have plans to immediately vacate the Prime Minister’s residence.
Politicians who largely agree with his policies refused to join a coalition with him because he either lied to them, excluded them, or plotted against them. They opted for the “change” coalition despite serious ideological differences with several of its members.
Indicted for serious crimes from trading government policy for favorable press treatment to just feeling entitled to receive expensive wine and cigars, he attacked law enforcement and the judiciary, including his own appointees. He attacked the institutions of a democratic and free society. At the very end he wasn’t even original, throwing about completely bogus charges of election fraud and the deep state.
He made alliances with or appointed unqualified lackeys to important positions, several of whom have been indicted or are under investigation for various crimes. He held up budgets so as to invalidate an agreement to transfer the prime ministership to a colleague as promised. In the interest of staying in power, he legitimized racist individuals and parties long persona non grata in Israel’s politics and society.
The Knesset session during which the new government was elected illustrates the level of conduct to which Netanyahu’s supporters and associates stooped. Rather than respectfully listen to the speech by the soon-to-be elected Naftali Bennett, they deliberately disrupted the proceedings, interrupting repeatedly with demeaning and disturbing charges.