Friday August 22, 2014
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22.08.2014
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Dror Eydar

We deserve a nationalist president

Stop with the nonsense. President-elect Ruby Rivlin won't be a contrarian to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What's he going to do -- travel the world, informing everyone that the prime minister doesn't want peace while the latter is in favor of carving up the land of Israel? Or might Rivlin prefer to let the Left build a government merely because he's "at odds" with Netanyahu? How condescending these analyses are, as if Reuven Rivlin doesn't have a solid, consistent world view and his considerations are all strictly personal.

As far as the pundits go, take note: Not one of them predicted that Meir Sheetrit would come in second place. That's how much their current analysis is worth. Now they're warning us about Rivlin's "right-wing" and "extremist" opinions that "could complicate things for us in the world." Come on, already.

What would have happened if Netanyahu had declared his support for Rivlin from the beginning? Would he have garnered the support of Knesset members from both ends of the political spectrum? We can imagine the euphoria in the media if the Likud candidate hadn't won. A victory by Sheetrit would have been a fatal blow to the nationalist camp and its ability to govern. But a blow to Netanyahu? Not necessarily. Electing Rivlin stabilizes the political system and strengthens the nationalists' hegemony. Nevertheless, the cracks -- both visible and invisible -- in the Likud and its satellites require the full force of the nationalist camp to overcome current tendencies and remember what the main battle is.

"No one can fill Peres' shoes" -- that's it, exactly. It's better that he doesn't. We deserve a president who knows that the Oslo Accords were a failed experiment; a president who doesn't fall off his chair with excitement at every announcement by whoever happens to be leading the Palestinians; whose oath to Jerusalem is honest and who would never have a hand in dividing the city. More than anything, we deserve a president who won't undermine the elected government.

There is deep significance in having a president whose values represent those of most of the people. Vox populi, vox dei: The president of Israel is not a political leader, but a symbol. The power of a symbol is measured by its ability to rally many forces and voices around one point. Rivlin doesn't need to present impressive achievements -- he just needs to be, and with his down-to-earth, receptive, and fair personality attract the symbolic power required for his role as president.

Between the first and second round of voting, when many were convinced that Sheetrit would win, MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnuah) said in an interview that the results of the presidential election had ideological ramifications -- that Rivlin's loss would indicate a rejection of the idea of the land of Israel in its entirety. A similar sentiment prevailed in the Israeli Left these past few days -- not to vote for the "right-wing extremist" Rivlin.

Pundits and broadcasters alike have trumpeted the idea that not electing Rivlin would mean the collapse of the nationalist camp (the Right, the conservatives.) This wasn't analysis, it was a wish. For an hour we experienced a feeling reminiscent of the elections in 1999, the schadenfreude and the hate for Netanyahu and the nationalists.

Well, then, hear what you have spoken: The president-elect of Israel is Reuven Rivlin, a man of Jerusalem and a descendent of 19th-century immigrants from Europe; son of an Irgun, Herut, and Likud family; a man who stands for an undivided land of Israel. Long live the president of Israel.

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