Life imitates art: Leadership challenges in Israel and the UK

in Middle East/UK/World by

A few months ago, -in a move eerily similar to a certain Conservative politician in the UK- the defence minister of Israel, Moshe Ya’alon resigned. At the time he cited: ‘difficult disagreements on professional and moral matters’, and made no secret of his intention to stand for office in the future.

This week the moment of truth finally came, with Ya’alon making his first pitch to the people of Israel. One of the issues he highlighted was that Israel’s current government is using scaremongering tactics to maintain control by terrifying Israelis with fears of external enemies. Ya’alon stated his belief that Israel is the strongest country in the region, and it’s people should not be living in fear.

He also stated that he would attempt to address racism and sexism within the country.

Once again this scenario seems to mimic events in the UK. When a certain Conservative Work and Pensions Secretary resigned in March, he was criticised for seemingly doing a full U-turn on his beliefs. Some put this down to collective responsibility, others to the fact that he had resigned for political reasons rather than moral ones. The same is happening now in Israel. Ya’alon spoke out against ‘scaremongering’ and yet when he was in office he made several speeches, warning against Iran as a serious external threat. He has promised to deal with racism, and yet in 2014 he was one of the ministers supporting a bill that would have segregated busses used by Jewish settlers. Understandably his former colleagues responded to his remarks with thinly veiled accusations of hypocrisy.

And Ya’alon is not the only former defence minister with a grudge against Netanyahu. Also this week his predecessor (and former Prime Minister of Israel) – Ehud Barack criticised Israel’s leader on the very same day and echoing the same sentiment as Ya’alon. He argued that Netanyahu is ‘cheapening’ the holocaust by ‘Hitlerizing’ every threat, and he agreed with Ya’alon that Israel currently faces no existential threats. Though it was a powerful speech, Barak resigned from politics, and it is unclear whether or not he will return.

Ya’alon claims to offer an alternative to Netanyahu, but has not yet stated which party he will stand for and from where we stand it seems unlikely that he will be able to overcome his former boss.

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