Merav Michaeli is a good friend of mine. For years, I've been trying to persuade her to enter politics because women like her will change Israel. And for years, she would dismissively harrumph: "Why do I need these phony mass voter registration drives?" or make some other remark that is not fit for print on this page. So I was dumbfounded to read last week that Michaeli was calling upon readers to register for the Labor Party, since Ehud Barak had already departed and there was no need for a new, leftist party ("Laboring to empower the left", March 8 ).
Yet, Michaeli seems to have forgotten that even if Barak flew the coop, the ails that have hindered the Labor Party remain. The "method" has trumped democracy, values, and the highest quality individuals. We will soon be reminded of party functionaries like Efraim Maimoni, Yehuda Bar-Or, or Ibrahim Abu Sabih.
Once again, the Labor Party is holding primaries, cheeks are high with color, and there's an excuse for a voter registration drive. "Register now," demand the billboards plastered on the sides of the nations's roads. This moves people to "register," leaving Maimoni, Bar-Or, and Abu Sabih with lots to do. Once again, they are amassing piles of registration forms, working past sundown, until their last breath. For years, they have been the most prolific recruiters of new registered voters. We would not dare label them "vote contractors," as we do with their counterparts in the Likud. After all, there is a reputation to protect here.
This was how it was when Amram Mitzna ignited the party only to melt away afterward, and Amir Peretz stormed onto the scene only to suffer defeat, and Ami Ayalon rose up briefly before sinking. Now the latest worthy would-be leaders have arrived - Shelly Yachimovich and Isaac Herzog. Maimoni, Bar-Or, and Abu Sabih are here to gather the requisite forms for the next great hope. It always starts well but then collapses under the weight of the forms.
The Labor Party is a movement with an illustrious past. But Yachimovich and Herzog will not redeem its present and the method by which it operates. It is a task that would be too much for Hercules even. For years now, party primaries have always wound up in police stations or in court. For years, crime reporters have been just as busy as political commentators in covering the primaries.
Hence, whoever wishes to change Israel needs to be thinking about a framework that champions democracy, values, and ideology without the defects. Whoever doesn't want the lofty dream to once again blow up in their face should link up with one of the new political organizations cropping up on the left and brimming with a youth that is determined to restore Israel to Israelis. These are individuals who do not wonder, "Does the new party have a chance?" or "What's in it for me?" or "Maybe it's easier to just join an existing, old, ailing party in order to win a seat in the Knesset." These are individuals who simply take action daily, be it at demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah or at solidarity rallies with sub-contract workers on university campuses.
Political life in Israel cries out for a revolution. It is in dire need of brave men and women, revolutionaries, those who are not ready to reconcile with what they see. It needs those who do not raise their arms up in despair and give up; those who do not run when the going gets tough; those who do not haul large boxes of phony registration forms.
Oh, how fun it must be in Egypt now that Hosni Mubarak has been tossed from power. This fate also waits our Mubaraks. For 30 years, they have been with us. They may have sat in opposition once, but mostly, they've spent their time in the government. This is especially true of the Labor Party, which has found its place in every government. Even if that government is run by Avigdor Lieberman. There is always a rationale or an excuse to sit in the government. It's a matter of "national responsibility." And it always ends in a pool of tears.
This time, it's OK to say, "Enough!" No more. They are not going to make suckers out of us once again. We will not fall into the hallucinatory trap. We are also allowed to live in this country. If we are to send our Mubaraks home, we need to show them the way. We need to do it without registration forms. With Michaeli and wonderful people like her, it is possible to change Israel. But one must want to. One must dare to jump into cold water. It will certainly be difficult. But, guess what? It pays off. Tahrir Square is here. Just not in the Labor Party.
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