Israel Needs a Restored Labor Party

In order to restore Labor to the days of old, Yachimovich has to demonstrate that she has an appetite for leadership, an ability to win.

Although the world sees us as duplicates of Samson, we're actually a fearful nation. "The whole world is against us," is not only a popular song but a precise description of our situation. "In every generation they rise up to exterminate us," we sing on Seder night. When Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicts "only" 500 dead in a war between us and Iran, Yaron London writes in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth that, because he lives in a high-rise building, he sees himself as a target.

Defense ministers have a tendency to look at threats against human life through the binoculars of statistics. I remember a meeting of Haaretz's editorial staff with the arrogant Moshe Dayan during his great days as defense minister. At the time, the newspapers were full of headlines about the Scud missiles with 500 kg warheads that Syria had received from the Soviet Union. Annoyed by the participants' oppressive questions, he replied with typical Dayan sangfroid: "The Scud is nothing more than a very inaccurate bomb. They'll aim at the General Staff and that will destroy Yoel Marcus' house. That will not decide the war." I didn't find that funny.

A few years later in 1973, when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Moshe Dayan was the man who muttered, with a long face, that we were on the brink of the destruction of the Third Temple.

Now we are again possibly on the brink of war, and this time at the initiative of the government and the extreme right-wing leadership that dominates it. Senior ranked American envoys - from the secretary of defense to the head of the joint chiefs of staff - are coming in the name of President Barack Obama, to warn us against an independent military initiative against Iran. And while Ehud Barak himself travels to and from Washington, leading Israelis in key positions - or formerly in such positions - are warning that this war is out of our league.

But this entire introduction serves only to raise the question: "Where are you, Shelly?"

Shelly Yachimovich. The woman who, as an opinionated journalist and interviewer, lambasted great leaders with pointed questions. Yet now, when she is the head of Labor - the party of David Ben-Gurion - her biting criticism and her practicality have disappeared.

Her election as leader of Labor seems to have paralyzed her. True, the glorious Labor Party of old is now a party of just eight seats, but Ehud Barak - Netanyahu's "spin doctor," who scatters threats throughout the entire world - has five seats at most, with the support of the extreme right. The fathers of Labor would probably turn over in their graves if they knew what was happening to the party born of the historic Mapai.

The opinion polls during this crucial period indicate that the election of Yachimovich doubled the potential strength of Labor. The problem is that Shelly doesn't dare to present herself as an alternative prime minister on behalf of the peace camp. She makes do with an attempt to hitch a ride on the social protest, and even on this subject I don't hear her saying: "When I am prime minister I will ..." do such and such.

Anyone who wants to give Netanyahu a fight has to have a "killer instinct," and the passion to replace him and his extremist party at all costs. Anyone who enters politics has to be hungry to rule the state and to instill confidence in the country on matters of life and death, rather than dealing with the price of cottage cheese.

It's amazing that we haven't heard Shelly - who as a journalist used to produce pearls of wisdom - say anything about Bibi Netanyahu's conduct on the subject of peace. Nor has she said a word about his despicable personal conduct toward the people working in his bureau, such as Yoaz Hendel, who wanted what was best for Bibi when they complained to the attorney general about Natan Eshel's alleged harassment of a colleague.

Shelly's silence on diplomatic and security matters is liable to arouse suspicion in those who don't really like her, that perhaps she has no viewpoint. Or that, God forbid, she thinks like Netanyahu. Because of Likud, the Jewish people are in denial. They think, like Bibi and Barak, that we have no partner to a peace agreement, and that the words in Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan speech about a two-state solution should satisfy the Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

In order to restore Labor to the days of old, Shelly Yachimovich has to demonstrate that she does have an appetite for leadership as well as the ability to win. And, above all, to warn the nation repeatedly that Likud, and only Likud, is dragging us into a disaster.