The Knesset Loses a Philosopher

Haim Watzman

Isaac Ben-IsraelIt’s a ritual that Israel observes before every election. One or more highly-qualified exemplars of what an Israeli parliamentarian lose out in their party primaries or decide, in disgust or exasperation, not to run again. This year’s latest victim is Isaac Ben-Israel, MK for the Kadima Party.

In an interview with Ari Shavit in this morning’s Ha’aretz (which doesn’t, for some reason, appear on the website of the paper’s English edition) Ben-Israel explains why he’s not seeking reelection, and why he’s disappointed with Kadima. “The real strategic threat to Israel is the state of its political system. That threat is more dangerous than the Iranian bomb and the economic crisis,” he declares.

Ben-Israel (whose name in Hebrew is Yitzhak Ben-Yisrael) has one of the best brains ever to grace the Knesset. He came to the legislature after a long career of IDF service as a pilot, in air force operations and intelligence, and weapons development; he has headed the Israel Space Agency and the security studies program of Tel Aviv University. In the midst of all that he managed to get advanced degrees in physics, mathematics, and philosophy.

So what? The Knesset has plenty of generals. It’s even got another philosopher, the Likud’s Yuval Steinitz .

Read the rest on Jewcy–Comment there or here.

1 thought on “The Knesset Loses a Philosopher”

  1. Interesting article. It shows how easily supposedly intelligent people can be taken. Sharon calls him and tells him he wants a “new, clean” politics. Now, Sharon has always been known as a corrupt, deceitful person (recall Ben-Gurion’s famous remark about Sharon: “Sharon’s biggest problem is that he lies too much”). Already in the 1970’s, Sharon had flip-flopped between Right and Left, depending on whom he thought could advance his career. Sharon runs for Prime Minister in 2003 swearing he will never destroy Gush Katif, and then does the opposite. He calls a party referendum in an attempt to get a public mandate, again swearing he will honor the results, he loses and breaks his promise. None of this deceit seems to bother Ben-Israel. Sharon loads the Likud with non-entity party hacks who support the betrayal of his Likud voters. He then brings them into Kadima, where some have already been forced out by various scandals (Olmert, Hirshenson, Ramon). Ben-Israel and Ben-Sasson are brought in as fig-leafs to give the party an image of having intellectuals, thinking they are going to be given responsibility. In the end, these same corrupt hack politicians Sharon brought from the Likud into Kadima set up a political machine which pushes fig-leaves Ben-Israel and Ben-Sasson out. What astonishes me is that Ben-Israel was surprised by this. Sure, in Israel lying to the Right is a commendable thing. Ben-Israel had no problem with Sharon’s history of corruption and his deceit, but then he is dismayed when Sharon’s new party ends up being a mirror image of Sharon’s own bad traits…and Ben-Israel is now the victim himself. What did he think these hack politicians would do?
    Even though he does seem to be a decent fellow and the Knesset needs more people like him, in the end, all I can say is “serves him right”. I worked as a volunteer for Sharon’s election because I stupidly believed his promise not to destroy Gush Katif. Ben-Israel didn’t care about my feeling of betrayal…so he has no right to complain about what they did to him. In a system where there is no justice and concept of morality, no one is safe. Too often Israelis have the attitude about politicians “sure, he lies and cheats but he does it for us”, but ultimately ALL will suffer.

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