When David Ben-Gurion retired from political life, whether for an interim period or finally, he went down to Sde Boker and built himself a hut there. When Ehud Barak took leave of the public arena, whether for a time-out or for good, he decided to build himself a home in Kfar Shmaryahu. This is just one of the differences between Ben-Gurion and someone who had aspirations of being Ben-Gurion.
The decision of Nava and Ehud Barak, to buy a plot in Kfar Shmaryahu and build their home there, is, on the face of it, the private matter of two people who wish to spend the second half of their lives in comfort among the wealthy of Israel.
Barak has not disappeared from politics: Following six months of silence, he has started once again to comment on public matters, showing signs of playing with the hope of a comeback. The reports over the weekend concerning intentions to set up a movement calling for a unilateral separation from the Palestinians originated from the former prime minister's associates and supporters.
Even if Barak has finally decided to cut himself off entirely from the matters of the state, he would do well to take a lesson from Bill Clinton: The former U.S. president had wanted to rent offices in one of the most expensive areas of Manhattan, but subsequently changed his mind, following public criticism, and chose Harlem as the location for his business affairs.
Barak, like Clinton in his original preference for the wealthy quarter of Manhattan, expresses his authentic, heart-felt desires when he decides to take up residence in Kfar Shmaryahu. Clinton understood the damage that his original decision was doing to his name (and that of his wife, who is embarking on her own public career) and chose to reverse it in typical U.S. style, with a radical decision in the opposite direction, the pretense of which is clear for all to see. Barak, so it appears, does not understand that even as a "former," his decision to select Kfar Shmaryahu as his place of residence is a painful slip-up that will damage the movement in whose name he came to ask for the faith of the people.
Tell me who your neighbors are, and I'll tell you who you are - this generalization is a fine description of the social temperament and emotional affiliation of a number of the former leaders of the Labor movement (as well as some of the heads of the Likud).
Yitzhak Rabin loved mixing in the company of the super-rich and had no qualms about exposing himself to their influences (his decision to scrap intentions to tax capital gains was taken following a social gathering in Kfar Shmaryahu). Shimon Peres loves socializing with the financial upper-crust of the country, as do some of the leaders of the Likud (Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert, for example).
In general, in Israel, as in many other countries around the world, money and political power are attracted to one another, naturally creating spiritual and social bonds, as well as shadow-politics coalitions that often find expression in governmental decisions. It's the way of the world.
This comment is directed at Barak due to the gap between pretense and practical behavior. In the public eye, Kfar Shmaryahu is perceived (begging the pardon of those of its residents for whom the generalization does them an injustice) as a homogenous, closed and wealthy community, the members of which maintain an extraordinary standard of living in the Israeli experience.
Kfar Shmaryahu is not a community of the upper middle-class; it is an essential concentration of the very cream of the cream of the crop. And this is what has attracted the man who, just six months ago, headed a party that defines itself as the home of the workers; a man who promised to take care of the sick and elderly of Nahariya and be "e-ve-ry-one's" prime minister.
Someone who aspires to live among the country's financial tycoons, among the owners of huge corporations and Israel's most successful entrepreneurs and businessmen, will never be able to convince anyone that he is the authentic representative of large sectors of the population.
The sense of falsehood that will be created by the distance between residency in Kfar Shmaryahu and the pretense of being attentive to the distress of widespread segments of the public will prevent Ehud Barak from winning the support of the voters and will also make it difficult for other leaders of the Labor movement to do the same.
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