The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Amit Elkayam—The New York Times/Redux
By Mansour Abbas
September 14, 2021 11:32 AM EDT

In the end, it all comes down to courage.

After four elections in two years, a bold act was needed to unite a country frayed by political stalemate and brought to a desperate standstill. Something dramatic needed to change, but more importantly, someone courageous needed to make that change. Naftali Bennett threw himself into a political firestorm in order to forge previously unimaginable ties between Israel’s left and right, Arabs and Jews, religious and secular. He formed one of the most diverse governments in Israel’s history.

“I don’t do things in the dark,” Bennett, who is now Prime Minister, told me in a meeting with him in the Knesset that he agreed to be made public. As the leader of an Arab party, I had become used to cameras being kept outside the room. “In a time of polarization and hate,” Bennett said, “the Israeli public needs unity.”

It wasn’t just the flash of the cameras that lit up the room at that moment, but the hope for a brighter future for us all.

Abbas is the leader of Israel’s United Arab List party

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