The Labor Party is Fuad. Ehud Barak dismantled it, but Fuad made Ehud Barak possible. Fuad is the axis around which Labor leaders have revolved in recent years: he authorizes them, he annuls them. Fuad is the repository of the hidden blueprint of the Labor Party, and therefore, to understand how a magnificent party turned into a fishermen's net one has to ask: What is Fuad?
Fuad is a lever. His primary ability lies in shifting objects from one place to another. The moment he identifies an object that bears potential power, he offers his services as a lever, and promises to propel that person across possible obstacles on the road to a safe haven. In political terms, it sounds like this: the moment he identifies a strong candidate, he hooks up with him and pledges loyalty and power.
Two major senses developed in Fuad in an extraordinary manner: the sense of smell and the sense of touch. The sense of smell enables Fuad to smell every political move, every possible manipulation, from a relatively great distance. Here it is necessary to recall that people are best at recognizing smells they are familiar with, especially the smell of their own bodies.
As for the sense of touch: Fuad touches and embraces political activists with the same piety with which he eats lunch. That ability has landed him the title "grassroots animal." "Grassroots animal" is typically an epithet for someone who is capable of bringing to the ballot box a great many people who have deposited their independent thought with him. In return they get a hug and a wink: a hug for warmth, a wink for the job that might come their way.
According to all the reports, on Monday morning Fuad was on his way to Tel Hai. At Umm al-Fahm the phone rang. Barak was on the line and told him he was leaving the Labor Party. Fuad immediately made a U-turn and went to Jerusalem. Later that week Fuad was asked over and over: How is it that you didn't notice the maneuver? What happened to the famous sense of smell? Where did it disappear to? Fuad didn't know what to say. He too realized very well: without a sense of smell, there is no Fuad.
Fuad became the strongman of the Labor Party because the Labor Party shed essences, world views and ideologies and became hooked on levers, axes, "grassroots animals." The moment common sense stopped working, hands and feet received disproportionate strength. A person who politically/socially/economically represents nothing became the kingmaker of a body whose essence is ideology. That is the basic mechanism of the decline of the Labor Party.
Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer
February 12, 1936: Born in Basra, Iraq
1950: Family immigrates to Israel
1954: Drafted into Golani infantry brigade, in which he serves for about 10 years
1978: Appointed commander of Judea and Samaria District (with rank of brigadier general)
1984: Becomes an MK when the Yahad party, under Ezer Weizman, wins three seats. After the elections, Yahad merges with Labor
1992: Heads Labor Party’s publicity campaign, under Yitzhak Rabin. Appointed housing and construction minister in the Rabin government after the elections
March 7, 2001: Appointed defense minister in the government of Ariel Sharon. A year later, orders the IDF to launch Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank
January 10, 2005: Appointed minister of national infrastructure in the Sharon government
February 10, 2009: Labor joins the coalition of Benjamin Netanyahu; Ben-Eliezer appointed minister of industry, trade and employment
January 17, 2011: Following Ehud Barak’s departure from the Labor Party, Ben-Eliezer announces his resignation from the Netanyahu government
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