Photo: Gabi Menashe
Attila Somfalvi
Photo: Gabi Menashe

Can Kadima lead change?

In order to survive, Kadima must prove that it truly wants to change Israeli politics

It’s already clear now that we won’t see much vision here. We’ll barely see a little energy. The Kadima election campaign is climaxing Wednesday, yet it has not left an overly large impression. It has been pale, quiet, Sisyphean, and not too brilliant. Those who wanted to ignore it and forget about it during the heat of July and August could have done so easily. The campaign was not catchy, it was not intellectually challenging, and it did not stir great mayhem. It simply happened. What does it say about us? What does it say about the candidates?


Yet despite this, many things happened during this primaries campaign: Tzipi Livni discovered politics, the people who make it happen, and the fact that one cannot do without them; Shaul Mofaz discovered the power of the polls and the media; Avi Dichter discovered that it is possible to make every possible mistake and repeat it time after time; and Meir Sheetrit discovered that he is the captive of an image that does not allow him to truly take off.


Ehud Barak also discovered something: He showed us, while pressing for the Kadima primaries to be held, how little he understands politics. He wanted to bury Kadima in internal struggles, but ended up bringing it back to life.


To some extent, Wednesday’s primaries will reveal Kadima’s true face to the Israeli public. The party’s internal workings, way of thinking, intentions, and plans will be exposed. For the first time, the large ruling party needs to contend with itself, with its own way, and with its future. Kadima’s internal democracy and intelligence, which have been buried at the start under the grandiose and almost dictatorial plans of Ariel Sharon and his partners, will be in the limelight today and require Kadima and its registered voters to think. Alone. Without a responsible adult to accompany them. Today, Kadima has the chance to rid itself of its deceptiveness and return to the straight and narrow path.


Does Israel need a centrist party?

The test faced by Kadima’s registered voters isn’t easy: Their choice is mostly between two people who have likely not yet fully matured; it is doubtful whether we would want them at the helm unless it wasn’t for the special circumstances created around here in recent months. However, when it comes to politics, the choice is made out of the available supply, rather than fantasy. Therefore, there is no other choice, and Kadima’s members need to choose between a woman whose years in politics may or may not have prepared her for the job and who is surrounded by Sharon’s former advisors, and a man who chose to entrust himself during the campaign in the hands of ultra-rightist advisors who prompted him to slander his rival and accuse her of making concessions to the Arabs and of racism.


Wednesday’s Kadima primary elections are a choice by default born in an unnatural way. These primaries are meant to erase one disgrace and change the way of thinking of Kadima, which promised a different kind of politics, yet soon encountered Israel’s political realities.


As opposed to common perception, an Israeli centrist party has a right to exist, and perhaps even a duty to exist. However, in order to maintain this right in the coming years, the party and its leaders must prove that they are truly attempting to lead a normative change; a change that would justify its existence and the objective it was established for: Leading a change in Israel’s political structure and preventing an ideological and practical dead-end.


Thus far, Kadima and its current leader have proven that even reality can be bent. As of tomorrow, its new leader would have to prove that reality can not only be bent – it can also be changed.


פרסום ראשון: 09.17.08, 17:32
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