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Israeli Researcher and Political Consultant Shlomo Weinish Spoke at Limmud About the Steep Slope of Israeli Leadership following Rabin's assassination

by Rhonda Spivak, March 5, 2019


Shlomo Weinish, an independent researcher in the field of leadership, spoke at this year's Limmud Winnipeg on March 2-3 about the "steep slope of Israeli leadership since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin" in 1995. Weinish, who has a PH.D in Oranizational Sociology from Haifa University  and who lives in Ramat Yishai was interviewed by email by the Winnipeg Jewish Review about this topic. Below is that interview. 

WJR:  The summary of your talk says: "Rabin’s assassination in 1995 was a formative event in Israel’s history. It appears that the main aspect is the decline of Israeli leadership that has a great impact on many life aspects." Can you tell us more about this decline in Israeli leadership? Do you mean that since Rabin there has been no Prime Minister who has been willing to take the necessary risks and make the necessary compromises for peace ?


Weinish: What I refer to as the "decline in Israeli leadership" is the process in which the Israeli leadership, mainly of Prime Minister Netanyhau, is lacking vision and values regardless of the peace process. Even when I keep the discussion in the "academic" level and detach it from ideological perspective, I can identify that Israeli leaders are more concerned about [their own] survival and less about leading with a vision. One main outcome of that process is also the loss of values   and concentrating on "Real Politic". This argument relates both to their personal and political survival and it reflects also on the agenda of the state of Israel. We   don't and see any vision (in each political direction- either left or right )and  actions to fulfill this vision



WJR: What do you think of  Prime Minister Netanyahu's leadership or lack thereof? Can you also comment on  the corruption charges against him 


Weinish: Again, it comes [back] to his lack of vision. He got a mandate from the Israeli people to lead a right agenda and yet he is not leading any proactive agenda but only reacting to the reality around [him]. He also concentrates his foreign affairs on the "survival mode" of the state of Israel. "We are a small county surrounded by enemies", "Iran is the modern Nazi Germany", etc. are the phrases he is using in order to unify the Israeli people and to gain support from the US and Europe. The corruption charges are part of my first argument- when you don't lead with a vision you are lacking values that eventually corrupt you and your staff because  all you are concerned about is your survival and therefore you will be willing to do  what is needed even if it is in the "grey area" in terms of criminal law.


WJR:  What about Prime Minister Olmert's steps to arrive at an agreement with PA President Mahmoud Abbas? How do you  see Olmert's leadership, including his corruption ?


Weinish: In many ways it is very similar- [the actions of ]Prime Minister Olmert didn't really lead to an agreement but rather to local solution with an agenda of "Divide and Conquer" between the Palestinians. Again, he concentrated on his own survival and the same argument about the lack of values is relevant in this case as well


WJR: What are your predictions for the upcoming Israeli elections? Is there anyone on the horizon who could  unseat Netanyahu   and if so who?       


Weinish: Given that I’m involved in these elections as a consultant (with Minister Kahlon’s “Kulanu” party), I lose credibility as a commentator. Like in each elections the center-left is crowning a “new Messiah” that will make the difference-this year it is former Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz. I don’t [think]it will happen. (Editor's note: Moshe Kahlon is the founder of the Kulanu party which gained ten seats in the 2015 elections and entered Netanyahu's coalition.)


     WJR: What would the centre left have to do to regain  power in Israeli society?


Weinish:I'm sorry that I sound like a "broken record" that repeats itself- They need to set an agenda that is relevant to the reality in the region. Unfortunately, for many reasons, it is not the same reality that was during Rabin's Oslo era. Therefore, the center-left needs to adjust its agenda and vision. Instead they concentrate on personal attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu that are counterproductive [in that] it makes his supporters be more engaged in protecting him and coming to vote.

Editor's note: Weinish will also be speaking at Limmud on the subject of Israeli-Diaspora relations in his session  entitled "We Can't Run Our Country Alone."  The summary for that session is as follows: "Long years of a philanthropic relationship between this Jewish diaspora and Israel led to a relationship model of a wealthy distant uncle that supports Israel under all circumstances. Israel was built as a Jewish nation aiming to serve as a home to all world Jews and where an exemplary Jewish society would be created. Today we can say that the country is a matter that is too serious to leave in the hands of Israelis alone. In the era of a "hollow leadership" (based on David Grossman’s speech) we must create a mechanism that would provide room for expressing the positions of the Jewish world regarding events in the country."


When asked for a mechanism that would do this, Weinish responded: "The first thing that comes to mind is the Jewish agency board of governors.And of course there could be a new institution that is established by a process that is led by the the World Zionist Organization."

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.