A news editor’s inbox is like an overflowing jug of water placed under an open faucet. Beware the deluge.

Yet news professionals thrive on information and encourage queries and solicitations. One never knows the source from which the next idea may germinate.

On Friday, a Tel Aviv public relations firm with an unfamiliar name flooded my inbox with pictures of Gideon Saar, the former education minister in the Netanyahu government, mingling with teachers and students in Petach Tikvah on the opening day of the new school year. The PR firm even offered me a video if I was interested.

I wasn’t, but it was abundantly clear that Saar was throwing out the first ball of the new election season, intent on keeping himself in the public eye as he manages his political comeback.

Saar, a Knesset veteran of 11 years, shocked Israel with his sudden resignation from politics in 2014 after the birth of his son David. He was going home to play daddy for a while, abandoning the position he fought hard to attain — second on the Likud Party list to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Most Israeli politicians who walk off the job never return to their former prominence.

Saar may be an exception. When he announced his return to the Likud just before Pesach, he said clearly that one day he would seek the number one spot — with the goal of becoming Israel’s prime minister.

Gilad Erdan has moved into the slot Saar vacated, but even after Saar’s lengthy leave of absence, polls show him defeating Erdan, and others, in any upcoming race for party leader.

Saar picked an opportune time to jump back into politics. Netanyahu is under multiple investigations for alleged misconduct in office. Despite his professed ambition, Saar has carefully avoided any appearance that he is trying to push Bibi off the political precipice. Saar has even defended Netanyahu publicly, noting that only a court of law, and not the court of public opinion, can convict the prime minister, and even if he is indicted, Bibi legally need not resign.

However, Saar doesn’t have to push too hard. At age 50, he is 17 years Netanyahu’s junior. He is also more politically in tune with the younger Likud generation, who consider Oslo both a distant foreign capital and a farfetched effort at peacemaking.

When President Trump expressed interest in building a coalition of moderate Arab nations willing to do business with Israel, Saar offered cautious praise. At the same time, he warned an audience at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University that Israel should not be asked to pay up for such a coalition with concessions that undermine national security. Contrary to Bibi, who embraced the two-state solution in 2009 at Bar Ilan (even though he disavowed it in 2015), Saar used the same venue to oppose creation of “another non-functioning Islamist state, near Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv.”

For Saar, the first day of school at Petach Tikvah was nothing more than a photo op, but the political optics were clear. The coming year may yet show us if he will be able to teach some of his old political rivals a lesson. (Excerpted from The Current, Issue 676)