Ari Shavit
Haaretz (Opinion)
February 14, 2013 - 1:00am


The longer the coalition talks drag on, the more the picture becomes clear: The 2013 election campaign was crazy.
Just before decision time on the Iranian issue, the voters and their elected officials did not discuss Iran. Just before the settlements turn Israel into an illegitimate state, the voters and their elected officials did not discuss the settlements. Just before the Syrian state disintegrates and the Egyptian economy collapses, the voters and their elected officials did not discuss Syria and Egypt. In the face of an unstable Middle East that is turning into the Wild Middle East, the election campaign did not discuss the Middle East at all. The campaign's 100 insane days were days of running from reality.
It's easy to understand the flight from reality in 2013. Iran is a complicated matter that no one wants to deal with, so a hard drug was pushed here during the past few months that creates the illusion that the United States will save us from Iran. The settlements are a serious matter that no one knows how to deal with, so a hard drug was pushed here during the past few months that creates the illusion that the settlements aren't important. The New Middle East is a burdensome matter that no one is capable of dealing with, so a dangerous drug was pushed here that creates the illusion the New Middle East isn't dangerous.
Thus, through the wide distribution and enthusiastic use of three hard drugs, the politicians have disengaged from reality. A virtual world of "sharing the burden" was created, a world with no connection to the harsh reality.
The problem now is how to deal with the gap between reality and the election campaign's unreal discourse. We have to create a government that suits reality, one made up of Likud, Yesh Atid, Shas, Hatnuah and Kadima. Only a government of the center can have the judgment and legitimacy to deal with Iran. Only a moderate government can save the Jewish and democratic state by freezing construction in the isolated settlements. Only a broad and restrained government can strengthen Israel in the face of the Middle East storm.
But the promises were cut off from reality during the election campaign, which was also cut off from reality. All this makes it very hard to form a government that fits reality. The insane election campaign created a crazy and dangerous political situation.
After Uri Misgav's expose in Haaretz this week, a heated debate broke out on the Internet over the soft drugs Yair Lapid seems to have used a long time ago. That isn't important. The question of soft drugs hasn't been straightened out in our society, so we can see why a bohemian who became a politician was caught up in contradictions concerning the green leaves of his past. The serious questions Lapid must answer concern today's hard drugs.
Will Lapid continue to act as if Iran and the settlements weren't important and the Middle East just a distant rumor? Will he prefer a pact with the nationalists of Habayit Hayehudi when the new government is formed rather than a treaty with the pragmatists of Shas? Will the new leader of the center miss an opportunity to lead a coalition of the center bloc - 27 Knesset seats - that will move the government and country to the center and pave the way for dividing the country?
When an American wants to tell a friend he's out of touch with reality, he says "what are you smoking?" Over the past few months all Israel was smoking. They're still smoking. That's why the rooms where the government is being formed, the same government that will determine our fate, are filled with heavy hallucinatory smoke.
But reality is knocking on the door. Neither U.S. President Barack Obama, Iran nor the Middle East will wait. That's why we have to stop all this smoking. The time has come to go cold turkey on the soft drugs and the hard drugs, and deal with reality just the way it is.


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