“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”
– Obi-Wan Kenobi, referring to the lawless desert planet of Tatooine (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope)
Israel is inching towards snap elections, less than two months after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud tied as the largest party in the 120-seat Knesset. Netanyahu has since struggled to cobble together a government from a rogues gallery of splinter party chieftains.
Time’s almost up for Bibi. On May 27, Knesset members voted to dissolve Parliament. As of this writing, the stage is being set for a new election, tentatively scheduled for September 17. To become law, the bill to dissolve the Knesset must go through two more votes.
The bizarre kabuki dance being performed by Israel’s leading citizens has left me bleary eyed, irritable and in dire need of a Thorazine drip. Watching the slow mo implosion of Israel’s government brings to mind a line from the classic political drama All the President’s Men: “Forget the myths the media’s created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.”
Fortunately, I’ve chanced upon a winning way to navigate the labyrinth that is Israeli politics. Let’s now take a step away from the here and now and go back…to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I think you’ll find that the leading players in Israel’s latest political drama are straight out of Central Casting.
Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud Party): To understand what makes Israel’s current premier tick, think Jabba the Hutt, one of the galaxy’s most powerful players. Like Bibi, Jabba was intelligent, hard working, articulate and charismatic. The Hutt was a long-serving leader with far-reaching influence, just like Netanyahu. We also know from ex-employees that Jabba was a tough boss and a bit of a micromanager, similar to Israel’s leader. Ultimately, Jabba was a victim of his own hubris. Et tu, Bibi?
Moshe Kachlon (Likud , then Kulanu Party and – as of five minutes ago – back to Likud): During his long tenure as prime minister, Netanyahu has inspired fierce loyalty. Case in point: Finance Minister Moshe Kachlon recently reneged on a campaign promise and agreed to merge his party with Likud. Kacholn’s dedication to his once and future boss evokes the image of Greedo, the extraterrestrial bounty hunter who confronted Han Solo on behalf of Jabba the Hutt. Greedo was shot dead by Solo. Will Netanyahu chuck Kachlon if the latter gets too powerful?
Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu Party): Dr. Cornelius Evazan was a mad doctor infamous for his cruel medical experiments. While intergalactic lounge lizards chilled out at the Mos Eisley cantina, Evazan – facing a death sentence in 12 systems – started to threaten Luke Skywalker. Obi-Wan Kenobi came to his young pupil’s defense and slashed the good doctor across the chest with a lightsaber. Meanwhile, Avigdor Liberman is using strong arm tactics of his own in order to have the draft law passed. Will Liberman actually follow through on his promise and slash the government into smithereens?
Aryeh Deri (Shas Party): Another frequent cantina resident was Kabe, a young female alien who earned her living as a thief. Kabe once hatched a plot to rob one of Jabba the Hutt’s casinos. A few light years away, Israel Police have recommended that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri be charged on suspicion of committing fraud, breach of trust, obstructing court proceedings, money laundering and tax offenses involving millions of shekels. Kabe used her connections with Greedo to gain access to the Hutt’s treasures. Will King Bibi yet again give Deri the keys to the powerful Interior Ministry?
Ayelet Shaked (Likud, then New Right Party, then…Likud?): If you squint your eyes inside the dark and dank cantina, you may notice Bastila Shan, a Jedi Sentinel. The source of her immense power is a meditation technique that boosts allies’ morale and destroys opponents’ power to resist. Back in Israel, Netanyahu is thinking about bringing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked into the Likud if Israel heads to new elections. If Shaked joins Likud, will she be able to use her formidable talents to unify the party faithful…and bring Israel’s Supreme Court to heel?
A New Hope?
Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi hid out on Tatooine during the Dark Times, the time of the evil Empire. It was on this desolate desert planet that he met and trained Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. With his mad new skills, Skywalker would go on to lead the Rebel Alliance to victory over the Empire and restore a pro-democratic republic across the vast galaxy.
And what will be the fate of tiny Israel?
One can only hope…
This piece originally appeared in Newsmax on May 29, 2019.