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Last Wednesday (2 June 2021) at midnight Israeli time, Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government following Israel’s fourth national election in two years. The anti-Netanyahu coalition agreement between the centrist Yesh Atid party led by Yair Lapid, the right-wing Yamina party led by Naftali Bennett, the Arab Islamist Raam party led by Mansour Abbas, and five other Israeli political parties secured 61 seats in Israel’s 120-seat parliament; a slender majority but enough to beat Netanyahu’s Likud party (30 seats) plus any coalition he could have formed.

The coalition still needs approval by Israel’s Knesset (supreme national legislature), which is expected within the next few days but assuming a simple rubber stamp, Naftali Bennett will replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s Prime Minister and hold that position for the next two years before handing over to Yair Lapid.  Netanyahu will become the leader of the Opposition, a position he will hate after holding the PM’s position since 2009. Israeli politics is set to become even more convoluted, acrimonious and divisive than before.

But that’s not the topic of this article. It’s Naftali’s surname, Bennett, that interests me. It’s close enough to mine to maybe suggest he and I are in some way connected. Let me assure you we are not. Here’s why:

  • Naftali is an Israeli citizen by birth; I’m not.
  • Naftali is a multi-millionaire; I’m not.
  • Naftali’s political views are described as hardline right wing; my views are not.
  • Naftali was a special forces commando in the Israel Defence Force and admits to having killed enemy personnel in combat; I have never been in armed combat nor knowingly killed anyone.
  • Naftali conforms to the beliefs and practices of the Modern Orthodox Judaism religion; I’m an atheist.

There are other differences but, most importantly, Naftali’s surname is spelt Bennett; mine is spelt Bennetts. The presence of that single terminating S means he and I are as different as chalk and cheese. Let it be known; we are in no way connected by our surnames or by anything else of importance.

Phew. I’m glad I got that off my chest.