Photo: Nir Cohen
Sharon with Likud party activists
Photo: Nir Cohen
Eitan Haber

Rest in peace, Likud

Likud convention to serve as funeral for ruling party

On December 27, 1923, in Riga, Latvia, the nationalist movement Betar was founded.


On September 26, 2005, Betar's descendant, the Likud Party, will be laid to its eternal rest.


No amount of resuscitation attempts by the 3,000 doctors of the Likud Central Committee will succeed in breathing life back into the moribund party that will be buried, once and for all, before their very eyes.


In its current makeup, the nationalist party has lost its soul. It was 82 when it died.


The funeral will be Monday evening in north Tel Aviv. Eulogies will be delivered by Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu.


Educated guess


For those interested in the results of the Sharon-Netanyahu battle, here's an educated guess: Sharon will lose the Likud but retain the prime minister's chair. Netanyahu will win the Likud, but lose the race for prime minister.


The battle between them is nothing more than a battle to own the title "Likud." It has no substance or meaning. Both correctly assume that thousands of voters will vote "Likud" regardless of what that name represents.


Even if the "Likud" ran on a platform promising to grant Hamas control of the beach in Tel Aviv, the votes would come.


On the joyful occasion of the Likud's demise, they are also fighting, of course, for money and jobs, tenders that were decided long before being issued, and who gets to represent the party at the next grand opening of the local hair salon.


To be truthful, today's Likud is not split between Sharon and Netanyahu. It is split between members who recognize the current reality and those who refuse to do so.


One side remains faithful to the traditional path of party founder Ze'ev Jabotinsky. They fight and dream about the Whole Land of Israel, at least the part between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.


The other camp in the Likud wakes up each morning to a new day, looks around to see what's happening, realizes the limits of power, understands the nature of the politics, security, and economics of the State of Israel and tries to maneuver between huge blocks of the Arab world in order to survive in a vast ocean of enemies.


The nationalist movement – Betar, Herut, and Likud – has always had its share of realists. Some came to grips with reality early on, others – like Dan Meridor and Ehud Olmert, were later on in coming around.




But many others cling to the belief, after 28 years, that Mapai (the Labor party's predecessor) is still in power and that the Jordanian kingdom never existed, and continue to sing about "both shores of the Jordan River."


Netanyahu presents himself as the heir of that camp, betting (correctly, from his standpoint) that the electorate has a short memory. He's betting voters will forget 1996, when he was elected by 0.3 percent over Shimon Peres, and only because he promised to continue the Oslo process.


And like Sharon, Netanyahu also proceeded to break campaign promises and gave away the Golan Heights and 13 percent of the West Bank.


In its current split-state, if we speak about honest ethical people (honesty? ethics? What a sad joke) there is no more chance or place to heal the wounds, unless the thirst for power rises up above all other considerations of direction and purpose.


Dreamers never err


The dreamers will never become power-seekers, because the dream of 82 years will remain their goal.


Realists (reality is sometimes bitter, as we learned from the Qassam attacks over the weekend) will always be suspicious of a lack of security, just like the reality, and even because their feet are firmly planted on the ground, this too leaves them open to a long string of mistakes.


Only dreamers never err.


But they, too, dreamers of the past and realists of the present, Sharon and Netanyahu, will stand up this evening to an honor guard around the Likud's coffin. The Likud always liked ceremony.


In front of our very eyes the Israeli political establishment has crumbled. The Right and the Left have lost their ways, and a young, dynamic country, full of an energy that made Israel the envy of the entire world, has focused its eyes, hopes and dreams on the 160 years of Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon.


Eitan Haber served as late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s bureau chief

פרסום ראשון: 09.25.05, 21:59
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