Some years ago, Israeli movie theaters screened the comedy "The Naked Gun," about a bumbling police officer’s attempts to solve a planned assassination. The events within Kadima over the last few weeks have reminded me of that movie. When I saw it, I laughed, and laughed again, but sometimes you reach a point where even the funniest joke just isn't funny anymore.
Any intelligent person knows that Israel is facing a slew of problems that can be considered fateful. First and foremost, there are Iran's nuclear aspirations, which could force us to make momentous decisions in the coming months or weeks. Secondly, despite the government's and the Bank of Israel's responsible fiscal policies and the fact that Israel's economy is far better off than most of the world's, there is no doubt that the dark cloud hanging over Europe's economies could arrive in Israel too (even Germany's credit rating outlook was recently downgraded to negative by the credit rating agency Moody's). As if that wasn't enough, our peace partner Egypt has recently been taken over by Islamists. And the outcome of the Syrian mess is also far from clear.
It is precisely at this moment, when national and political unity is needed possibly more than ever before, that Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz comes along and dismantles the unity government. Mofaz had a shot at being party not only to shaping Israel's policy but also to a historic shift in the distribution of the burden (with a more equitable alternative to the Tal Law, which exempts ultra-Orthodox Israelis from mandatory military service). He failed at both and wasted the very little credit he still had with the public, and that is a shame.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thanks to his personal military background, sees the recruitment of ultra-Orthodox youth as a top-priority national mission, and he has gained widespread support even among the ultra-Orthodox public. But he knows that the reform needs to be carried out with great sensitivity and thought, and even take into consideration the same aspects that then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion took into account when he first instituted the exemption from the military for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students.
True, the outline that Vice Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon submitted needs some adjustments, especially in the age haredi men are recruied at, but had Mofaz stayed in the game, a joint effort could have yielded a real chance for change. Mofaz was once a well-respected Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, and rightly so. I was present at several of his meetings in Washington during his term, and his attitude was responsible and remarkably respectable.
So what happened to him this time around? Instead of showing leadership, as he did in his previous capacity, he allowed meddlers and underhanded tricksters to lure him out of the unity government. From the moment the unity government was established, individuals within Kadima tried to take advantage of Mofaz's political inexperience to sabotage the national unity. There is no other explanation for Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner's behavior. He seemed to be doing everything in his power to ensure that the goal of equality in the sharing of the burden would never be achieved.
Kadima's future is no longer of any interest to anyone. It is a decimated party that has nothing more to contribute. The coalition has the public's support, and it will continue to focus on important national tasks without yielding to manipulations and provocations.