One can certainly understand the great leftist anger directed at Ehud Barak. He badly abused them: He promised one thing and did the exact opposite.
As such, there is no wonder that many words of disparagement and revulsion were uttered this week in order to describe the disgust with his conduct: "A flip-flop," "an evil deed," "immense cynicism," and even "betrayal."
Meanwhile, radio stations constantly aired recently archived recordings where the Labor chairman pledged to accept the voters' decision. Television stations aired tragic-comic parts of his election ads.
For several days, we saw an all-out media condemnation of the phenomenon of false promises in politics. Cynical commentators did not hide their deep consternation. Those who listened to them may have been impressed that nothing like this ever happened in Israel before.
Well, good morning and welcome to the club. If our memory is serving us correctly, something like this actually happened in Israel before. Only four or five years ago we had an admired prime minister around here, Ariel Sharon, whose major deeds fully contradicted his platform.
During the election campaign, he disgustedly rejected opposition notions regarding unilateral withdrawals, yet a short while later he carried out a deep unilateral withdrawal. The man promised that Gaza settlements will be treated the same as any other Israeli community, yet he ultimately razed the entire Gush Katif. Things look differently from the Prime Minister's Office, he explained, as the Left cheered on.
At the time, radio stations and newspapers praised Sharon's pragmatism. They told us that a true leader is not tested in his ability to uphold pledges, but rather, the courage to break promises if necessary. We heard a collective media sigh of relief when he ignored the results of the Likud vote he initiated. Nobody mentioned flip-flops or evil deeds. The Israel Police was asked to probe anyone who uttered the word "betrayal."
Meanwhile, the group of Likud Knesset members who insisted on sticking to the platform was given the derogatory nickname "rebels." They were characterized as archaic elements unable to go along with changing realities. The people who interview them did not bestow upon them even one-tenth of the affability they showed to Labor's Shelly Yacimovich.
The people of Israel were prodded to think that the good guys in this story are the people who break promises while the bad guys are the annoying people who insist on fulfilling them.
Now, try to explain to the public that the definitions have changed. Things look different when you're in office.