Opposition in name only
An opposition exists to present an alternative, and from that perspective the Labor Party is a veritable national tragedy. As the lead opposition party, it foiled every opportunity in recent years to create a serious alternative. It left an entire nation without an alternative, meaning with no hope for change, no other path, or even a different style.
Shimon Peres asked Yahad-Meretz to vote for Labor joining the government, and I said that as far as I was concerned, it was out of the question. He requested that at least we abstain, and I responded that abstention in that case is the worst possible option because it is in effect a trick, as if we voted in favor, while rolling our eyes. Let me explain my reasoning.
First of all, there is no such thing as voting for a party joining the government. There is the presentation of a new government to the Knesset, which is asked to vote confidence or no-confidence in that government. That's a confidence vote for all intents and purposes, and I do not vote confidence for an Israeli government headed by Ariel Sharon, with Benjamin Netanyahu setting its economic and social policies, and where the education minister is Limor Livnat, whose stewardship of the ministry has driven it to an unprecedented low point after she agreed to 14 separate budget cuts. In the coming school year, every pupil will get six fewer hours than in the past school year - an unprecedented cutback since the state's establishment. This government must be replaced, not fixed, and besides, the corrective abilities of Peres and his friends have proven to be close to zero.
I did not petition the High Court of Justice against the attorney general's decision in the matter of the Greek island scandal just to clear the matter on the floor of the Knesset. If Sharon is not worthy in my eyes to serve as prime minister because of a matter of corruption, I cannot vote for him as if the court and the parliament are on two different planets.
Secondly, a government comprised of Likud and Labor is not exactly the great promise that must be given a chance. We already know them, in general terms; it is what we had two years ago. The first Sharon-Peres government was possibly the worst in the history of the country. It is possible to say - paradoxically - that if there already was a Sharon-Peres government, it is highly unlikely that the disengagement plan would have ever been conceived. Sharon would not have been under pressure because Peres, whose political moderation forms the basis of his international reputation, would have scattered the darkening political clouds over our heads that frightened even the prime minister.
And in general, I didn't quite grasp the connection between the disengagement plan, if and when it is brought to the Knesset for ratification - and it is very doubtful it will ever be brought - and partnership in the government. Why does Peres need to be a minister just to support the disengagement? There's no doubt about it: we will support disengagement so we can finally see a departure from Gaza.
And there's another very important reason: there is no democratic country anywhere in the world where there is no opposition worthy of the title. Labor, it turns out, finds it very difficult to fulfill that role, indeed makes a mockery of it. We, as opposed to Labor, are able to function as an opposition because our souls do not long for power and its perks. We loved out ministerial jobs in past governments, but we have lives without those jobs, and the role of the opposition is not beneath us, and does not demean us. Just the opposite.
An opposition exists to present an alternative, and from that perspective the Labor Party is a veritable national tragedy. As the lead opposition party, it foiled every opportunity in recent years to create a serious alternative. It left an entire nation without an alternative, meaning with no hope for change, no other path, or even a different style. Thus we have the utterly unique phenomenon in Israel that does not exist anywhere else in the world, which could be called the "Sharon monopoly," as if God really did choose him for power. That Labor Party impotence, it's perpetual defeatism, its readiness to play the ragged tail - none of it will be forgiven.
And if Labor does not believe in itself, how can it expect that Yahad-Meretz will have confidence in it, especially when it's sticking itself to Sharon, from whom we don't believe a single word?
And by the way, have any illegal outposts been removed?
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