Floating Voter / The Curse of First Place

How can one resist sharing in the joy of MK Moshe Kahalon over winning first place in the Likud primaries this weekend? Kahalon is an affable young man with pleasant manners - polite, honest and not prone to fiery speeches. A nice guy. I was happy for him. Likud chairman Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu praised him effusively, although if I were in Bibi's shoes, I would have left out the comment about "the boy from Givat Olga," which sounded as condescending as "the boy from Rehavia."

Just as suddenly, a cloud darkened my happiness slightly. I recalled all those whom luck had smiled on, raising them to great heights. My memory is a serial wet blanket. History teaches that first place in the primaries is usually kept by its owner, to his detriment. Even Kahalon himself, never mind the rest, was shocked by his unexpected achievement. They were surprised because it does not often happen that a Knesset member leaps from the back benches straight into the front seat. In addition, Kahalon did not stand out during his first Knesset term: a nice MK, surely, but not particularly impressive. In other words, he was not necessarily a natural choice, and whatever is unnatural is liable to end badly.

Kahalon would be advised to remember similar precedents. Here are a few of the circumstances in which an MK has won first place, after the party chairman: because he has a neutral image, does not step on anyone's toes and will make way for them; because disproportionately Ashkenazi lists are in urgent need of "authentic" ethnic diversity; and because the list wants an ornament that chairmen like Bibi can boast about for a short while. It has happened before that those who were chosen to head the list experienced a meteoric rise before burning out, and today no one even knows - or cares - where they are.

Moshe Kahalon must learn his lesson and protect himself from the "curse of the first" in primary elections. I would not wish for his election to mark the beginning of his end - he has not even budded and is already starting to wither. Remember, Moshe, what happened to Shoshana Arbeli- Almozlino and others, too. We will not mention them all for the sake of their lost honor. When you get the chance, ask (pundit) Hanan Crystal.

In your next meeting with Netanyahu, you would be wise to make it clear to him already that to him you are neither a "boy" or the "token Mizrahi." And if Bibi intends to continue to use you to adorn himself, he should first decorate himself.

Yesterday I read in Haaretz that the Likud ministers did not congratulate you on your win. That is actually the first positive sign, since it means that they are taking you seriously and that despite everything, you do have a future.