PM Netanyahu is a criminal

Isaac Duke: The man who can beat Netanyahu

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A few weeks ago it was completely unthinkable: Several hundred people are sitting in a hall in the north of Tel Aviv and waiting for Isaac Herzog. The event was actually planned in a smaller hall, but due to the large number of visitors, a larger room was booked at short notice. Now the election campaigners are standing in the foyer and handing out T-shirts with the slogan "I love Buji"- the nickname of their candidate. You can't say that their shirts will be torn out of their hands. Shortly before the election, Herzog is more popular than ever before - but he's not yet a pop star.

Herzog is running as the top candidate for the Zionist camp, an alliance made up of the workers' party Avoda and the party of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He has recognized that the once proud Labor Party, after all the party of the first Israeli President Ben Gurion, is no longer able to win an election on its own.

These days, Herzog is profiting from a Netanyahu fatigue of the Israelis across all political milieus. The Zionist camp has now overtaken the Prime Minister's Likud party in election polls. An election victory and an end to Netanyahu's term in office seem possible.

When Herzog finally silently enters the stage, accompanied by a bodyguard and benevolent, but not necessarily frenetic applause, he quickly begins a speech that he gives without much zeal: "I am the only alternative to Netanyahu," says Herzog, and explains then how he wants to create social justice and improve the relationship with the USA, which was strained under Netanyahu. It all sounds convincing - Herzog is not enthusiastic, he buries his hand in his trouser pocket. He only becomes more lively in the second part of the event, when he answers questions from the audience.

Longing for honesty

In almost everything, Herzog's appearance is a counter-model to the incumbent Prime Minister. His shoulders look narrow in his jacket, his rimless glasses seem just as fragile as his stature. One would think that such externals should be irrelevant. But Herzog was even forced to justify his high pitched voice in an election spot - that says a lot about the concept of masculinity and leadership in Israeli politics.

Can this man be imagined as a commander-in-chief in wartime? Hunched over a map, side by side with the generals? One can not. But maybe that is precisely the reason for his successful election campaign. After six years of Netanyahu and political alarmism, there is a longing in Israel for someone who is diplomatic and yet appears staid. Just like the German voters after the Basta years under Schröder elected a chancellor who would rather form a diamond than clench her fist.

Herzog is someone who biographically stands for the good old days of Israel, without terror and wars. He is the son of an ancient, influential Israeli dynasty, which he remembers at every election rally. Duke's father was the country's president from 1983 to 1993, and his grandfather was the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi.