A minor uproar occurred this past Tuesday when Israeli opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, of the Zionist Union, unveiled his party’s new plan for national security. Chief among the new proposals was the completion of the wall, separating Israel and some of the settlement blocs from the rest of the West Bank. This project began during the height of the Second Intifada. The wall remains about 30% incomplete, and sections of it are already in need of repair. The ethics behind the creation of the wall remains to be a controversial topic within the international community.
“I wish to separate [Israeli citizens] from as many Palestinians as possible, as quickly as possible….They, over there, and we, over here; we’ll erect a big wall between us. Ariel Sharon did the right thing when he put up the fence that prevented the infiltration of suicide bombers, but he didn’t finish the job. We want to finish it, to complete the barrier that separates us,” Herzog said.
The proposal provoked controversy among the Israeli left. Israel’s liberal newspaper, Haaretz, decried Herzog’s “embrace of Netanyahu’s logic.” The Zionist Union’s third Knesset member and potential leadership contender, Shelly Yachimovich, called for an “alternative political dialogue”.
While having an opposition leader who merely parrots right-wing talking points, shirking his duties to his followers, his party, and his country, is a problem, it is not the biggest problem. What is more frustrating is that the idea of a completed wall ensuring further national security will not enhance Herzog’s chances of political victory. Herzog’s poll numbers will stay where they are, specifically in the dismal range of 15 to 25 mandates. Moreover, Herzog will continue to be unpopular amongst the broader Israeli public. The average Israeli can only roll their eyes when a mild, middle-aged and soft-spoken ex-bureaucrat attempts to mimic his larger-than-life rival. It rings of overcompensation.
That being said, if Herzog truly believes that he needs to sound like a tough guy in order to reposition himself in the voters’ favor, and that to sound like a tough guy, he must foster a fixation on a particular layer of concrete and barbed wire, then he may as well do it right. I hereby offer Herzog a suggestion:
Book a giant auditorium in the middle of Jerusalem. Have several female models escort you to the stage, where they will remain for the entirety of the press conference. When introducing your plan to complete the wall, emphasize that it will be the best, classiest, most luxurious wall Israel has ever seen. Oh, and it will be, as Donald Trump says, “Yuuuuge.” Furthermore, you will make Shelly Adelson and Hamas pay for it. Remind the Israeli public that you have the best cadre of machers from the Shin Bet, the general Israeli army, and the Mossad supporting you. Meanwhile, Bibi Netanyahu is stuck with people such as Moshe Ya’alon, who cannot do a good job at preventing civilians from being killed. Finally, remind the audience that the Iran deal is the worst deal you have ever seen, and that Bibi was really, as Trump puts it, “schlonged.” Finally, amidst the thunderous applause, announce your new slogan: “Make Israel Great Again”.
If it worked for Trump, it may work for you, too.