In the immediate aftermath of the latest elections in Israel, my (somewhat snide, but really felt) response was “good thing there is a future; there’s surely no present.” Meaning, I suppose, something like: nice to see that folks really made a statement that the current political system is fundamentally broken (by voting in droves for the newly-minted Yesh Atid [i.e., there is a future] party), but that doesn’t mean that anything has actually changed, or can be expected to change, any time soon. I had wanted to try to develop that reaction into a sustained thought, but failed. Then, in the build-up to Obama’s visit and the drama of Netanyahu’s troubled, but ultimately (and predictably) successful, attempt to forge a coalition, I thought that there was a real moment to expand on my initial response. I failed again. Obama’s visit itself would have been a nice occasion to revisit my thesis and see how it was holding up against “facts on the ground.” But, alas, that moment passed as well.
Who would have thought that the “critical mass” would have been reached through a seemingly benign, almost anodyne, gesture by Yair Lapid (head of the afore-mentioned party) in saying that any structural changes to Israeli economic and fiscal policy—and such changes, it is universally agreed (and, seriously, now, how often is universal agreement reached on anything in Israel?)—must first of all resolve the difficulties faced by the “ideal typical” family of “Riki Cohen” who (it so happens) is said to hail from Hadera, the suburban semi-city between Tel Aviv and Haifa where my wife’s parents have lived for 25 years.
So, I am sitting here in their house in Hadera, looking over the pages and pages devoted to “Rikigate” in the thick Friday [think: Sunday] editions of Yediot Ahronot and HaAretz (including prized positions on the front covers thereof), and I realize: this is the evidence that the January version of me would have wanted to rip from the near future and point to in making my comment about the lack of a political present in . . .