TLR 191- Colossus Shrinking
June 2, 2019
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault…is in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2
The Israeli general election of April 9th generated two key outcomes. One was the arithmetical result, in terms of how many votes each party received and how many Knesset seats these votes translated into. That was the focus of the bulletin of April 14th, entitled “Plus ça change”. The second was the political result, in which Binyamin Netanyahu won far more votes than predicted and thereby achieved a more dominant position than ever within Likud and the Israeli political arena.
My analysis of this second topic has been delayed, initially by choice but increasingly due to ‘force majeure’. The coalition-building process moved very slowly, due first to the Passover holiday (April 19-27) and a series of national days (Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day) in the first ten days of May. Then the nation’s attention was diverted by a week-long media and entertainment extravaganza in Tel Aviv — when Israel hosted the Eurovision Song Contest. Only on Sunday, May 19 did “normality” return, enabling the domestic political process to become the centre of attention.
Along the way, Netanyahu had requested and received a two-week extension of his original 28-day mandate to form a government. However, because this is a normal feature of the coalition-negotiating period, even when there are no holidays etc., it was seen as an unimportant technicality, The universal expectation was that by the new deadline of Wednesday, May 29, the haggling would be completed and a new coalition agreement, commanding a Knesset majority would be signed.
But it wasn’t. Instead, for the first time ever, the country is going to undergo two elections within one year. The entire political system is, at one and the same time, in paralysis, in confusion and in uproar. This issue must therefore relate to a) what might have been, b) why it wasn’t, c) what definitely is and d) what might be.
B: Domestic Politics
- “Dishonourable graves”
- From Stability to Instability