A Little Less Feeling, Please

The fanatics of a right-wing government living in their own bubble will bring disaster and shame not only on themselves, but on all of us. As Yitzhak Rabin once said, we do not have a spare country.

I admit, I'm also a bit cross over the election results, the blindness of the people and the overall situation. I also feel like saying: "Okay, let's let Benjamin Netanyahu form a narrow right-wing government. Let's see what they can do; we'll go to the opposition clean, pure and sure of our righteousness."

The thing is, they cannot do much of anything. Without naming names, let us imagine who exactly in a right-wing government would be defense minister, foreign affairs minister, public security minister, interior minister and, heaven forefend, strategic affairs minister. These fanatics living in their own bubble will bring disaster and shame not only on themselves, but on all of us. As Yitzhak Rabin once said, in his rough way, we do not have a spare country. Only children get angry about reality.

The responsibility rests with Kadima because, as Tzipi Livni claims, she won the election, albeit barely. If the public wanted her in the opposition, it would awarded given her 18 seats, or 8, not 28. The frustration is understandable, but frustration is not the best political adviser.

I also do not want Netanyahu to be prime minister, but the question is what kind of government he would lead: One that would turn Israel, all of us - not just Avigdor Lieberman and Kahane's disciples - into international lepers, or one that could gain understanding, if not support, for our difficulties due to the complex outcome of the operation in Gaza and the developments in Iran.

Let us admit the truth: Does anyone really believe that if Kadima had won by a greater margin, we could have reached an agreement with the Palestinians, when the latter cannot agree among themselves and are essentially in the midst of a civil war?

Labor must also think twice. Saying "We will build ourselves up in the opposition" makes a great impression, but those who will be built up are the party's shrill representatives and demagogues, not its ideology, policy or chance of a future.

Since peace with the Palestinians is no longer on the agenda, our first priority must be halting the momentum that will lead us to a narrow right-wing government. Such a government will immediately find itself at loggerheads with the United States and Europe, and will lose the international support that Israel so badly needs. Some of its leaders may make incessant pronouncements about attacking Iran, but even those who believe that taking military action should not be ruled out know Israel needs allies for such an operation. A narrow right-wing government will further deepen the dangerous chasm between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens; even those who believe that irresponsible behavior by various leaders during the war in Gaza has increased Jewish extremism understand that a narrow right-wing government will only increase the polarization. And where exactly will Kadima's voters, and even some of its leaders, go if the party remains in opposition?

In the best of Leninist tradition, some on the left believe that the worse it gets, the better it will be. That is bad advice, and let's not get into historical examples; they are chilling and frightening.

Now is the time for responsibility, not for letting feelings take over. If Kadima continues to demand a rotating premiership, even if this does not come to be, Netanyahu could agree. After all, even he understands that with Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi, he will not exactly be welcome in the White House or anywhere else in the world (even among the Jewish community). Netanyahu proposed that Kadima help the government draft its platform. Livni is right when she says these are just words; but words can also act as restraints.

This is Livni's first real political test: If she fails this time, and heads into the political wilderness, with the best of intentions, it is hard to imagine how she will be able to get out. It is even more difficult to imagine how Israel will get out.