‘Too much hate in our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem’

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - IN­TER­VIEW MOSHE YA’ALON BY JENNI FRAZER

MOSHE YA’ALON, Is­rael’s for­mer de­fence min­is­ter is, as be­fits a for­mer chief of staff, on the warpath.

His tar­get, how­ever, is not the Arabs or the Pales­tini­ans. In­stead, Mr Ya’alon, who ter­mi­nated his mem­ber­ship of Likud two weeks ago, has the prime min­is­ter and the present govern­ment in his sights — and he speaks with open dis­dain of the party. Likud, he says, is so changed “that Ze’ev Jabotin­sky and Me­nachem Be­gin couldn’t get elected now. Benny Be­gin [the for­mer prime min­is­ter’s son] is re­garded as a left­ist”.

Since re­sign­ing as de­fence min­is­ter in 2016, Mr Ya’alon has been care­fully lay­ing the ground­work for a come­back. Speak­ing to the JC dur­ing a brief Lon­don visit as the guest of the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion for its an­nual din­ner, Mr Ya’alon said he had es­tab­lished an NGO called the As­so­ci­a­tion for Al­ter­na­tive Lead­er­ship. It is not yet a po­lit­i­cal party but — mind­ful of Prime Min­is­ter Ne­tanyahu’s warn­ing be­fore leav­ing for China this week that he might call early elec­tions — Mr Ya’alon said: “I would prefer more time, but I should be ready in any given sce­nario.”

The nor­mally care­fully spo­ken “Bo­gie” Ya’alon is furious at the di­rec­tion in which Is­rael ap­pears to be go­ing. “What is the mean­ing of Is­rael as a Jewish and democratic state? It’s about Jewish val­ues, the sanc­tity of life, the way we treat ‘the other’. I found in our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem too much ha­tred gen­er­ated by politi­cians.”

He is far from left-wing, but speaks with pas­sion about a prime min­is­ter “ob­sessed” with con­trol­ling the me­dia. “This is wor­ri­some, to say the least. Or the way that the govern­ment treats the Supreme Court.”

Since his res­ig­na­tion, Mr Ya’alon has trav­elled all over the coun­try talk­ing to as many dif­fer­ent kinds of people as he can. Point­edly, he notes:

“I don’t have my own news­pa­per or my own TV chan­nel”, and while he has learned to make full use of so­cial me­dia, he is sure “the best way to con­vince people is to meet them”.

He senses Is­raelis have had enough of the Ne­tanyahu era. “It’s be­cause of the cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions, his ob­ses­sion with con­trol­ling the me­dia, which is not the democratic way.”

Mr Ya’alon hopes that he can ap­peal to Ku­lanu, Yesh Atid and Labour vot­ers. All the cen­trist par­ties, he says, “see no chance for a fi­nal set­tle­ment”. Nev­er­the­less, he says there are “too many MKs, and I’m not talk­ing about min­is­ters, who have never met a sin­gle Arab — and that’s why they are so extremist. They don’t un­der­stand that we have to em­brace the Is­raeli Arabs into our so­ci­ety, and then to find a way to man­age life with the Pales­tini­ans.”

If he were prime min­is­ter to­mor­row, Mr Ya’alon says his first steps would be “to unify the Is­raeli people, Jews and non-Jews, Ashke­nazi and Sephardim, reli­gious and non-reli­gious, and to deal with the so­cio-eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion”. Despite his con­fi­dence that Is­rael can find a method of liv­ing with the Pales­tini­ans, Mr Ya’alon told the ZF din­ner that one of his chief con­cerns was Pales­tinian ed­u­ca­tion. “They are told, if you kill more Jews you get more money. With­out deal­ing with ed­u­ca­tion there’s no chance of a bet­ter fu­ture for them.”

PHOTO: FLASH 90

An­gry: Yaalon

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