Analysis

The Competition Was Fierce, but Labor Wins the Humiliation Race

The party that founded the State of Israel, and which for much of Likud's years in power was the only one with potential to replace it, has fallen to new lows

Avi Gabbay, head of Labor, addresses supporters after a poor showing in the election, April 9, 2019.

The results are not yet final, but among the parties that ran in the election for the 21st Knesset there were clearly some resounding, terrible failures.

Although he might ultimately squeak past the threshold, Naftali Bennett, who dragged Ayelet Shaked into a reckless quest that proved to be utterly misguided, suffered a major flop. "The immaturity of those two never ceases to amaze me," a senior Likud minister told Haaretz at the start of election season. He may have been even more amazed on Tuesday night.

Ayelet Shaked, who had been spoiled by front-page articles in all the papers, had begun to believe that she really was the most influential person in Israel. Now, she is reduced to praying she makes it into the next Knesset. These two hoped to break free of the sectoral glass ceiling over their heads and discovered that their value in the open market that they so adore, is quite low.

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Anybody with a libido can be tempted to abandon boring old bread and butter for a dream. The trick lies in distinguishing between fantasies that have a chance of materializing and ones that should be confined to the mind. Bennett couldn't do that. Instead of vanquishing the Hamas, he found himself fighting to pass the electoral threshold.

Orli Levi-Abekasis, who in the days of yore had been predicted to win eight seats with her Gesher party, is also a contender in the race of floppers. Her main failing was rejecting a union with Benny Gantz before he brought in the other generals, even after he offered her the health portfolio.

Though the competition is fierce, the great winner in the race of humiliation is the Labor Party.

The party that founded the State of Israel, and which for much of Likud's years in power was the only one with potential to replace it, has fallen to new lows. Its campaign was terrific and the polls looked favorable but those proved to be ephemeral.

Kahol Lavan took Labor's voters effortlessly. Labor sources charge this was done without thinking about how to build a sustainable bloc. But the party can only blame itself and its leader. Avi Gabbay's road began with great promise. Then he went on to make mistake after mistake, made a slight correction with the launch of the campaign and culminated in a crash.

Meretz was rescued from the brink by its veteran voters but needs to search its soul as well. Labor and Meretz should have merged this time and should do so ahead of the next election. If they don't, left-wing Zionism, which is already scantily represented, will become extinct.

That may be the real story, that this is the inevitable evolution: Cruel natural selection. Maybe the Zionist left, which has been in crisis for years, is now taking its final breaths. And what will come after it? Apparently, the deluge.