“In a month and a half, we will all choose between a ruler who has English from Boston, heavy makeup, and luxury suits – and an Israeli leadership which is real, caring, authentic and not phony,” Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz said in a speech Tuesday night.So what's the big idea Gantz has to make such an offensive attack on English-speaking immigrants, myself included? This would be equally offensive if he'd said the same thing about French/Portuguese/Italian immigrants.
Leave aside the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s English is from spending most of his childhood in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and not Boston.
What are all the other Israelis from Boston, Philadelphia, New York, London, Johannesburg or Melbourne supposed to think?
Regardless of what Gantz intended, that remark, as well as him saying that Netanyahu was busy in America “to improve your English and practice it at luxurious cocktail parties” while Gantz “lay in muddy foxholes with my soldiers on frozen winter nights,” makes it sound like there’s something inherently wrong with having spent time in America.
It could easily be understood that Gantz is delegitimizing English-speaking immigrants as phonies who can’t be leaders of Israel.
This criticism took off on social media, where Likud MK Yehudah Glick, New Right candidate Caroline Glick (no relation) and others said they saw Gantz’s comment in the same light.
Of course, it’s quite easy to prove Gantz wrong. Like Netanyahu, former prime minister Golda Meir spent most of her childhood in the US. Her English was from Milwaukee. First Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog’s English was from Leeds. Legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban’s English was from Cape Town. Haim Weizmann only moved to the UK as an adult, but he was a university professor there for decades before becoming Israel’s first president.
As Netanyahu said in his statement responding to Gantz: “My English was a first-class tool in the war for our public diplomacy that helped me greatly in bringing our foreign relations to unprecedented heights.”
Gantz himself has a record in the US. He has a Master’s Degree from the National Defense University, and it’s highly likely that he went to some fancy cocktail parties when he was Israel’s military attaché to the US for four years.
For a party that constantly says “there is no Right and there is no Left,” as their jingle goes, they are behaving astoundingly like the Left did after the establishment of the state. This harkens back to Labor forebear Mapai’s attitude towards new immigrants, especially those from the Middle East, many of whom still remember the condescension and hold a grudge against the Left for it.Well now it should get some attention, as should Gantz's obscuring of Netanyahu's own military record. Something the prime minister already responded to:
This is a dangerous tactic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be getting much attention, in contrast to Gantz minimizing Netanyahu’s military record.
English-speaking immigrants deserve respect. Many of us left good lives abroad purely out of ideology and love of Israel, in order to help develop and build this country and to be part of its future. We’re not asking for an award or special thanks. But there’s no reason to imply that we’re lesser because some of us may talk differently or appreciate a nice suit and a well-made cocktail.
“Benny Gantz, shame on you,” Netanyahu said in the Hebrew-language video, which mostly echoed a written statement released by his office immediately after Gantz’s speech.On this note, Netanyahu's not the only one who pointed out Gantz's serious weaknesses. Even independent candidate Orly Levy-Abekasis came out against Gantz, stating he's just a tool:
“You are attacking me, a soldier and officer in [special forces unit] Sayeret Matkal, who commanded many operations behind enemy lines, who was wounded in the  operation to rescue the hostages of the Sabena plane, who almost lost my life in a shootout in the Suez Canal, who risked my life time after time for our state, which you want to endanger with unilateral withdrawals and support for the dangerous Iran nuclear deal,” he continued.
“And what else are you attacking me for? The English I speak, the English which has been a central tool in our public diplomacy war and which greatly helped me improve our foreign relations to an all-time record,” Netanyahu added.
“I want to thank my brothers in arms from Sayeret Matkal, across the political spectrum, who came out against those outrageous remarks and stood up for the truth,” he said.
“Citizens of Israel, in the upcoming elections you will also be required to make a stand and choose between a weak left-wing government headed by Benny Gantz and a strong right-wing government headed by me,” he concluded.
Gesher party chairwoman MK Orly Levy-Abekasis announced Wednesday evening that her Gesher party will run independently for the next Knesset.Here's some more:
"Since the signing of those agreements anchored by signed documents, a strange flurry has begun in the Israel Resilience party, including the dissemination of disinformation and deliberate media briefings, a sort of hide-and-seek game as though there were no discussions between us, as if there were no agreements and summaries or commitments, while the chairman, to my amazement, shuts his mouth and remains silent,” Levy-Abekasis said of negotiations with Benny Gantz.
"It is amazing how quickly the new politicians have adopted old and rejected tricks that the public has long grown tired of. How disappointing to discover that specifically the one who heralded a new and clean politics failed his first test - the test of reliability. It is a pity that the man they expected to run Israel emerges as a man run by others,” she said.
"Inexperience brought the man to even come to me today and ask me to give him an extension until he concludes his deal with Lapid. I have no other words to describe this behavior but strange and delusional. In light of the situation, I have come to the conclusion that I won’t take part in the misleading of the public, and therefore Gesher will run independently and will succeed," Levy-Abekasis concluded.
Levy-Abekasis said negotiations fell apart despite her having reached written agreements with Gantz that included Israel Resilience’s adoption of Gesher’s socioeconomic platform as one of the alliance’s main campaign planks, as well as which spots on a unified list her party members would receive.He's also very startlingly unoriginal in his statements, and that's just one of the things that makes him so dangerous. Levy-Abekasis deserves some credit for calling out Gantz for his grave mistakes too. These are some of the main reasons why it'll be a terrible thing if Gantz wins the election, and even Lapid's bound to be a bad lot at this point, just why, if he too ends up serving as a premier on rotation, he could also be bad for Israel.
“To our amazement, since [reaching] these agreements… a bizarre scampering around started in Israel Resilience, accompanied by the spreading of disinformation and biased briefings to the media, a sort of game of hide-and-seek as if there hadn’t been discussions between us,” she said in a statement.
Levy-Abekasis issued stinging criticism of Gantz himself, saying he had failed the “credibility test” and calling his behavior “weird and hallucinatory.”
“It is unfortunately to discover that the man who was expected to manage Israel turns out to be managed by others,” she said.