Shelly Yachimovich
Shelly Yachimovich
Photo: Snir Kazir
Anti-Netanyahu protestors in Jerusalem

Israel's center-left must stop the collective political suicide

Opinion: With the anti-Netanyahu mantra being hijacked by an increasingly strong right-wing, the camp's egotistical leaders refuse to cooperate, ignoring the fact that their multitude of parties is a deathly blow to its survival

Shelly Yachimovich |
Published: 01.15.21 , 13:45
It is unique for a political candidate to have the ability to win over voters and ensure that their party does better than barely scrape the 3.25% threshold needed to make it into the Knesset.
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  • Israel has 10 such people at most across the entire political spectrum.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    ההפגנה בבלפור
    ההפגנה בבלפור
    Anti-Netanyahu protestors in Jerusalem
    (Photo: AFP)
    The vast majority of the country's politicians are in the Knesset merely because they rode in on the coattails of a dynamic party leader or were inserted by a group of rabbis, but they could never win over a voting bloc under their own steam.
    This hard truth has not stopped some of them from abandoning the mother ship in recent weeks to head off with their own new party to heaven knows where.
    Those on the sidelines have looked in amazement, anticipating those parties' inevitable collapse onto a pile of wasted electoral votes.
    But these rogue captains of their own ship care only for their own ambition, for if they even had a modicum of concern for the public good, they would have refrained from embarking on such a useless ego trip.
    The "Just not Bibi" mantra has eradicated any remaining shred of ideology. It has turned outright racists into public heroes simply because they are willing to say "Netanyahu is corrupt" or vow that they "will not sit with Netanyahu in a coalition."
    Take a thoroughly right-wing politician like Gideon Saar, whose new party has somehow become the home for voters who support the anti-Benjamin Netanyahu protest movement, simply because he is better spoken and vows not to join a coalition with the Likud leader.
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    גדעון סער
    גדעון סער
    Right-wing politician Gideon Saar
    (Photo: Oded Karni)
    Would Democratic voters in the U.S., so sick and tired of Donald Trump, vote for a more refined yet ideologically more radical Republican candidate instead of a sensible Democratic one? Of course not!
    This drive to oust the veteran prime minister from power has ballooned the right-wing to 75-80 seats in polls - an enormous surge far greater than the camp's true representation within the public.
    Meanwhile, the center-left is experiencing a horrendous and ongoing collapse in the polls.
    Only in Israel would you find left-wingers voting for conservatives just because they too do not like the prime minister. It is utter and total political suicide.
    But the left-wing is not done with disappointment and a complete lack of direction.
    What do the political camp's leaders do when faced with this mass desertion of voters and horrific polling? They splinter into even more parties.
    This willful self-destruction not only prevents parties that essentially agree on all issues to unite and halt this collapse, but has led to the appearance of more and more parties to nibble away at the battered corpse of what used to be the center-left.
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    תמונה של עפר שלח
    תמונה של עפר שלח
    Tnufa party leader Ofer Shelah
    (Photo: Omer Messinger)
    The first to embark on this suicidal journey was former Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, an intelligent parliamentarian in his own right who became too cocky looking at the polls.
    What Shelah forgot is that all his accolades and praise from the public were won during his partnership with Yair Lapid, who has already proven himself to have that elusive x-factor and be a stable political force.
    At a recent press conference seen by practically nobody, Shelah called for an alliance between Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai's new party The Israelis, the once-mighty Labor and his own new Tnufa party.
    "Only such an alliance will stop the mad dash to the right and help form the next government," he said.
    He deigned to throw out a nod to other center-left parties Meretz and his former home Yesh Atid, but I suppose personal animosity is greater than political stability.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Centrist party leaders Ron Huldai and Benny Gantz
    Centrist party leaders Ron Huldai and Benny Gantz
    Centrist party leaders Ron Huldai and Benny Gantz
    (Photo: Biladeyhem, the Association for Relatives of Missing Persons)
    Blue & White leader Benny Gantz also called for unity on the center-left, which was more practical and omitted no one.
    After all, polls show Blue & White will still pass the electoral threshold and Gantz has a lot of money to help any party that decides to join him.
    The sad fact is that any such alliance is already beyond the point of political savvy and is now a life-saving procedure that has been delayed for far too long.
    That procedure must include the surgical removal of political egos before it really is too late.
    Shelly Yachimovich is a former MK and leader of the Labor Party
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