Revival of the dead

Labor party, Israeli democracy will benefit from Peretz win

Ganging up: The Labor Party made sure to squeeze every last drop of (macabre) humor out of itself. Who remembers that ridiculous appearance a few days ago, in which Shimon Peres promised Matan Vilnai the defense ministry should he put together the next government, in exchange for dropping out of the race for party chairman?


And a little while before Vilnai quit the race, Ehud Barak did the same, all in order to block Amir Peretz. Party heads all ganged up against him, whether by openly showing their pathetic support for Peres or by sitting on the fence.


Even earlier, there were endless legal attempts to torpedo Peretz's return to Labor, and afterwards to do the same to the elections process. Nothing helped. Not even the absurd, if predictable, attempt to portray him as Jesse Jackson.


Out of touch: Our politicians are out of touch. They live in a bubble, feeling nothing. Nada. It's a fact.


Except for one Knesset member with decent political senses, not one supported Peretz. They wouldn't have needed ideology to push them to Peretz, just a touch of survival instinct.


But it didn't happen. It shows us all that they have no idea what in the world is going on.


Peres: Don't cry for him. He is the Giulio Andreotti of local politics: The most senior active politician on earth.


According to Peres, the time was never right for him to quit. His perennial presence perpetuated, emasculated and disrupted the natural emergence of a new generation of leaders.


Everyone always looked immature next to him, and even if someone looked good, let him wait. What's the rush?


As a result, the Labor Party brought itself to a position of desolation, of silence.


The twilight of the Israeli Left does not only stem from Peres. We continue to deal with terrorism, and our national mindset does not exactly lean to the left.


Israel is a frightened, crumbling, conservative society. At the best of times, Israeli society leans to the Right, is not tolerant or particularly receptive to humanistic slogans or universalistic values the Left is supposed to advance.


These qualities are even more evident during these terrible times. But not everything can be attributed to atmosphere and external factors.


But the foundations of the ongoing crisis are to be found within the left-wing camp itself: This was a party rich with impulse, but with no soul or outlook. It was a problematic brand name, a bad image, and of course – it ran amok into the Sharon government.


They had no ideological or alternative agenda to "piggish capitalism".


Left-wing parties in Europe hold principled discussions all the time about the makeup and meaning of social-democracy and about the scope of public welfare systems in an age of globalization.


Has anyone here heard of the Israel Labor Party hosting this sort of debate in the last year? The last ten years? The last 30?


The complete lack of ideology and moral failures are apparent on every face: On questions of peace and our relations with the Palestinians, what are Labor's plans now that we've passed disengagement?


Opposition: This is an excellent place for a party looking to attain power. In opposition, a party can push a new agenda, build well-funded programs and present an alternate budget.


Who has any time for these zeroes, who couldn't run fast enough into government?


In opposition, one can maintain constant contact with the public – I don't mean the worn out and vulgar spectacle of Knesset members trudging to Bar Mitzvahs and circumcision ceremonies for the children of rich businessmen, but rather for tours in local factories, to organize seminars, to develop leadership and direct ongoing meetings with a wide range of the public.


No one but Amir Peretz was wise enough to view opposition as a legitimate option.


What kind of democratic or parliamentary rule is possible when one of the two major parties categorically refuses to fulfill its duty?


There is a refreshing wind blowing that brought Amir Peretz to victory. He breathed life into a party that had lost its desire to live and ability to resuscitate itself.


Labor today refuses to fight for anything, and wants nothing save for the crumbs it gets from Ariel Sharon.


But now the party has a charismatic, challenging leader, different from any leader the party has ever known. His ideas about the economy are much more up-to-date and modern than he is given credit for. Tens of thousands of people voted for him for exactly this reason.


Peretz simply convinced them, and breathes out hope. He is well equipped with hard ambition, energy, and a crazy hunger. There is no better fuel in politics.


Labor has gotten its life back, and most importantly – Israeli democracy will be rehabilitated, and is leaving an era defined by these complete zeros.


It will be interesting.


פרסום ראשון: 11.10.05, 11:10
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