Until they learn to sing
When Netanyahu was defeated in the 2006 elections and Likud declined to 12 seats, it was Ariel Sharon who encouraged him, comparing the defeat to a clock: 'You are now at 6 o'clock; tomorrow you'll return to 12.' Kadima is still stuck at 6.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with Nino Abesadze. So let me introduce her. She is a Kadima MK. And she gained fame recently thanks to her desire to participate in the television reality show "Dancing With the Stars," to be aired on Channel 2.
Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon and the Knesset Ethics Committee rejected her request, but her willingness to appear on the TV show reminded me of a well-known joke: A boy showed his father his report card, with failing grades in every subject except for an "Excellent" in singing. For that he got a slap from his father, who remarked: "With grades like this, you're still in the mood to sing?"
It's not clear whether MK Abesadze will perform in the Kadima primaries this coming Tuesday, but it's not really important, either. There probably aren't many people who know there's even an MK by that name in Kadima. Nor have many people noticed that Kadima has 28 Knesset seats and that it's the largest party in the Knesset, and yet the least in evidence.
With its defective functioning, it has confirmed the famous saying that size doesn't matter. Take, for example, MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ), who does on his own what all of Kadima doesn't do. Or Shelly Yachimovich, with the little that has survived from the Labor movement, who is on the map on every issue. Or even Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the refugee from Tel Aviv's Akirov Towers, who, with the four members of his Atzmaut "movement," is serving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - and who is, according to all the signs, leading us into a war with Iran, God forbid, which we may regret for generations to come.
The founder of Kadima, Ariel Sharon, was the one who turned the party he established into a spearhead for a conceptual revolution regarding the need to part from the dream of Greater Israel, and even actually evacuated 22 settlements "with determination and sensitivity" - in fact, with immoderate physical force. When Bibi was defeated in the 2006 elections and Likud declined to 12 seats, it was Sharon who encouraged him, comparing the defeat to a clock: "You are now at 6 o'clock; tomorrow you'll return to 12." Kadima is still stuck at 6.
The problem is that Kadima was not defeated in the last elections, but instead created a dangerous precedent. There had never been a situation in Israel before in which the party with the largest number of seats remained in the opposition, with its presence not felt even in that niche. In hindsight, we could say that in the past we had parties in the opposition who made life hard for the ruling parties; until they removed Labor, the party thought it was born to rule. Since then, it has been wobbling between final destruction and a total lack of influence on our lives.
In effect, Bibi, Barak, Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu ) and the religious parties can do whatever they feel like. It's more convenient for them to threaten Iran than to move hundreds of thousands of settlers on the way to an agreement with the Palestinians. They are diverting our attention from the main thing. Kadima chair Tzipi Livni has claimed lately that the Iranian threat is the government's excuse to avoid the Palestinian issue, and she is right. But we have to ask, what is she doing "for the country" as opposition leader? Kadima received the votes of 750,000 citizens. Does that potential still exist? It's not clear.
Next Tuesday's Kadima primaries are not for the premiership but for the leadership of the split opposition party, in advance of elections that will probably be held in less than a year and a half from now. Kadima must first prove that it knows how to function as an opposition before it can convince the public that it is worthy of running a country. And the proof is that the surveys don't include Kadima in the government. It's impossible to point to any important legislation that the party initiated. They're there in the Knesset like Sleeping Beauty.
The primaries on Tuesday don't excite the public. Because Kadima is fighting with itself. At least three senior members aspired to oust Livni: Shaul Mofaz, Avi Dichter and Meir Sheetrit. (Dichter dropped out of the race on Thursday, throwing his support behind Mofaz. ) Livni is smarter than Mofaz, and to her credit she was the one who abandoned Likud with Sharon and authored the Kadima platform. Bibi wants Mofaz - who is close to his hawkish views - to win, although it's not certain that Bibi will rejoice when he sees the election advertisement prepared for the primaries: "Mofaz for Prime Minister."
The candidates are defaming each other to such an extent that the voters are liable to believe all of them. This is Livni's opportunity to prove that she really is the worthy leader of the opposition, on the way to the premiership - but first of all that she rules her party. What did they say about that opera singer whom the audience wouldn't allow to leave the stage until she learned to sing? She has an obligation to prove she knows how to sing.