Gantz was in Haifa so I went to see what it is like to hear him in person.
I had lots to do at home so I arrived just in time to hear him finish his speech. His deep voice resonated over the loudspeaker his people put outside the auditorium: “Thank you very much.” As I came closer I saw that they placed a tv screen outside too. It seems they expected the crowd to exceed the capacity of the auditorium and that people would stand outside and watch the event.
No one was standing outside.
I entered in time to see his assistants running to dismantle the teleprompters he used to give his speech. (Remember my previous post describing Netanyahu’s event – he spoke to the audience for 45 minutes with no notes and no teleprompter. He even laughed saying: “We don’t need advisors to tell us what to say or how to say it.”)
Gantz’s people tried to create an American “town hall” style stage but it lacked the power of Netanyahu’s set up. His overly photoshopped campaign poster has the Hebrew version of Obama’s slogan: “We must move forward.”
I thought it was very brave of Gantz to sit down and try to take audience questions. Considering how often he stumbles over his words or contradicts himself when he speaks, considering that much of his popularity was a result of his campaign managers telling him to not speak or express any opinions trying to answer questions live, with no assistance is brave. Or stupid.
Of course he was there with Moshe (Bogi Ya’alon), also an ex-IDF Chief of Staff and Miki Haimovich an ex-news presentor and well known environmental/animal rights activist. Most of the questions Gantz turned over to them, taking the role of a general telling subordinates what to do.
Ya’alon, although an intelligent man makes Gantz look charismatic by contrast (is that why the campaign managers put them together on the stage?). His answers were long-winded and so monotonous that they were hard to follow. At one point one of the questioners told him: “But you are just describing the problem, you didn’t actually answer the question.”
Miki Haimovich connected with people when she spoke and she made her ideals clear – to her the solutions lie in big government and socialist economics. To me these ideas are repugnant but Blue&White does represent Israel’s left so she is in the right place.
Gantz seems like a nice man. He did try to answer people.
One day after, things he said were already in viral clips such as his statement that Netanyahu bought an airplane he didn’t need and, when someone shouted from the audience: “let’s see you give up the plane,” his answer “I’ll give up the plane. Actually a Prime Minister needs a plane, a country does have to have a State airplane.”
He “only” had a few major stumbles over words. Of course that can happen to anyone however with Gantz the issue is more his incoherent sentences which seem to reflect very confused thinking. He speaks in partial sentences that don’t necessarily make sense with the partial sentence that comes after, jumping around. Often the second half of the sentence contradicts the first half.
But many Israelis want anything that isn’t Bibi.
Although Haifa is very leftist and the residents of the area the event was are mostly leftists, not all of the audience was convinced. Some people got tired and left. Although there was at least one professional clapper who tried to generate enthusiasm the audience clapped most often when Gantz stated statistics Israelis feel are positive such as the rising number of Arabs doing National Service (Sherut Leumi).
One woman asked: “How will you build a coalition?” Instead of addressing what was disturbing her – the fact that Gantz cannot create a coalition without the support of the Arab Joint List – he answered: “I will make a coalition with the Likud, after they get rid of Netanyahu.”
That too is an answer and an issue anyone considering voting Blue&White should be very well aware of.
Personally, the more I see of Gantz the more horrified I am that this man was in charge of the IDF. This man determined that the tunnels were not a threat to Israeli security and were not something that needed to be addressed. He thought it better to endanger Israeli soldiers than to kill Arab civilians terrorists hide behind in order to attack us.
His decisions already endanger my life and the lives of people I love. Why oh why would I put him in charge of the entire country?!
Few orators in the history of humankind have been as talented as Netanyahu. Leaders are not always good speakers but why oh why would I put someone who has difficulty speaking in his mother tongue in front of a friendly audience in the position where he has to speak on my behalf in front of people like Trump and Putin?
Whenever events like this end in Israel it is customary to sing the National Anthem. At the end of this event there was no Hatikva.