Letter to the Editor: Bruce Brown
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Letter to the Editor: Bruce Brown

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Congratulations Bibi. You have again been elected, for an unprecedented fourth term, as Prime Minister of Israel. And will again have the honor and the headache of managing our little shtetle.

Bibi. You were an inspirational leader for many years. A graduate of Harvard and MIT, bastions of western education and free-world thinking democracy. As a bright, charismatic, ambitious, rising star in the foreign ministry, representing Israel at the United Nations. As a finance minister who demonopolized industries, privatized major state-owned companies, reformed the pension and welfare systems and transformed the economy ushering in first world GDP levels.

And as Prime Minister, you navigated our economy to dizzying ‘start up nation’ heights. You desalinized our water. You cheered the landing of a blue and white rocket on the moon (which unfortunately crashed at the last moment). You confidently stood up to the Ayatollahs, both on their own turf, with many covert and overt intelligence feats, and in the U.S. Congress. You developed offshore gas resources so that Israel became a natural gas superpower. You led multi-billion-dollar infrastructural upgrades of our roads and rail links. And you ushered in long-awaited peace treaties, including the Abraham Accords.

But then, after many years at the helm of the Jewish state, something went wrong. As Sir John Dalberg-Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As brilliant a leader as you were, power got the best of you. Not so much the court cases accusing you of bribery and breach of trust. I want to believe much of that ruckus is nothing more than a ‘storm in a teacup.’ But you created an aura of corruption. Of Infallibility. That some are above the law. The ‘let them eat cake’ attitude coming from Balfour Street was deafening. And it was this Marie Antoinette-monarchist frame of mind that characterized your failure.

With the 2021 election, the fourth in three years, you were exiled to the opposition. A humbling experience for the political magician who, to paraphrase the poet Robert Frost, ‘walked with Kings but lost the common touch.’ Now, as you plan your triumphant return to Balfour Street, as you continue building your coalition, apply your famous Machiavellian skills, critical for navigating the minefields of Israeli politics, to unite the nation. To become the leader of all Israelis. Of the right and the left. Of the religious and the secular. Of the Sephardim and the Ashkenazim and the Ethiopians. Of the Jews and the Arabs. Of the country’s geographic center and its periphery. Of the rich and the poor. Of the immigrant and the Sabra.

And no less important, to avoid encroaching extremism from your right. Reach out to the middle. You have more in common with the centrist parties of Benny Gantz’s National Unity and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Then with the ultra-nationalist and ultra-religious elements emanating from parties to your hard right; the Religious Zionist, Shas and United Torah Judaism. At least keep the major ministries: finance, defense, foreign, within the Lukid. Also education and interior. Keep them away from the likes of Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, Aryeh Deri and Yitzchak Godknopf.

Bibi. For the sake of Israel’s future. You must balance Israel’s heavy tilt rightward. To avoid a potential ultra-nationalist theocracy. And, as the prophet Isaiah admonished, to perpetuate Israel in its rightful place as a light unto the nations.

Bruce Brown, Rehovot, Israel

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