It didn't take long. Until last weekend, Amir Peretz was no less than the messiah.
The media pulled out all stops to heap all sorts of exaggerated praise on him, baseless expectations, and incredible achievements.
People pinned every possible and impossible hope on Peretz: not only was he expected to perform a miracle by immediately resuscitating the corpse known as the Labor Party, but he was also supposed to bury the long-standing ethnic gap, to present an ideological alternative to the Likud, to draw a flood of voters from development towns to the Labor Party, and who knows what else.
Less than two days later, it was already clear that Peretz was a great disappointment: just one more pathetic player from the Histadrut labor federation who speaks poor English and endangers the country with his dream-world, confusing ideas.
The "gentlemen of de yizraeli labor" don't really like the vulgar behavior of the shvartze from Sderot.
Yes, he was elected to lead the party, but only because (between us), the voters themselves are also somewhat vulgar.
Peretz, it turns out, doesn't know his place. It's absolutely incredible, you know. What can one say? Those folks from Sderot just aren't very nice. Not nice at all.
Amir Peretz may not be nice, but for the first time it must be said, that there is something much more embarrassing than his broken English (which, by the way, is better than that of Russian President Vladimir Putin or that of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir) or his vulgar behavior when opposing the right – the respectable, measured behavior of his rivals.
Ideology and agenda
At least Peretz has ideology and an agenda. He feels, for example, that it is the job of the opposition to fight the coalition.
I know it's a bit common, but think about it: there's' something there.
I don't know if Peretz's strategy will work. We'll just have to wait and see.
But the blurry-policy strategy endorsed by Shimon Peres and his followers, the policy of hanging onto power at all cost in the name of "national responsibility" is a failure.
Why do the media cooperate with the campaign to delegitimize Peretz? To some degree, it has to do with the broken fuse of the Israeli journalist, a tradition left by former prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, ex-Foreign Minsiter Shlomo Ben Ami and one-time Labor prime ministerial candidate Amram Mitzna. Each of these bright, unembarrassing stars managed to soar the highest of heights, only to come crashing down like lightning.
Just yesterday, Barak was the greatest genius in the history of the Jewish people. Today, he is sad and pathetic.
Just yesterday, Netanyahu was a magician; today he is a serial screw-up.
When someone makes a promise, he must come through the same day. If he doesn't immediately fulfill each and every inflated expectation of the media, they will explode with a litany of accusations about his "failed path". Under cover of "balance," they'll blacken his name and flame him with scorn.
Following the Rambam
In the Middle Ages we had a wise leader by the name of Moses Maimonides, known in Hebrew by the acronym of his name, Rambam. He believed in the teaching of Aristotle: Man must always choose the golden mean between two extremes.
Amir Peretz is not the messiah. He can't bring water out of a rock. He is a seasoned politician, with mediocre accomplishments up to now.
On the other hand, he is a person who presents his lost party with a path, and with passion. He must be judged carefully, but he must be given a chance.
At least at this stage, he is less embarrassing than his critics.