Let Electoral Nature Take Its Course, Even if It Means Some Israeli Parties Need to Die

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz last month.
Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz last month.Credit: Amir Levy
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

Meretz is teetering on the electoral threshold again, as it has in all of Israel’s general elections in recent years. Again it’s crying gevalt. Again petitions are being signed for it and op-eds are being written to help it out.

Meretz’s future is being jeopardized by the voters leaving it for Merav Michaeli’s women’s team, by those who prefer to vote for the Joint List out of identification with the Arab minority, and by the strategic voters who are convinced that the surest way to the left requires a swerve to the right – to Gideon Sa’ar and even to Avigdor Lieberman.

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Former Meretz leader Zehava Galon recently reprimanded media personality Razi Barkai, who said after the latest opinion polls came out that Meretz should step down so as not to endanger the anti-Netanyahu bloc. “Let me remind you that reporters’ and commentators’ role is to mediate reality to us, not to try to dictate it,” Galon said.

But Barkai was only applying to Meretz the logic that Meretz’s current leader, Nitzan Horowitz, has preached to his colleagues in the bloc. A month and a half ago Horowitz told a conference of the Institute for National Security Studies: “Anyone who can’t reach the electoral threshold should simply go home.” He was referring to the parties of Ron Huldai, Benny Gantz and Ofer Shelah. Horowitz added that these were “worthy people,” but “politics is a complicated business.”

Huldai, Shelah and others listened to him and quit. So why do the oh so “complicated” rules of the political game apply only as long as they don’t pertain to “us”?

While this is an unconscious display of a double standard, I agree with Galon that it’s not journalists’ job to dictate to parties to quit. Personally, I also don’t think Meretz should quit. Let the voters decide.

But I don’t fear the possibility that Meretz will fail to win enough votes to make it into the Knesset. Even the possibility that Labor will remain outside parliament as well as Meretz doesn’t scare me. The life of a party on its deathbed shouldn’t be prolonged artificially, certainly not by begging and getting people to vote for it out of pity. Nor should such parties be offered euthanasia. We should simply let things play out naturally.

The main thing, I think, is not to be afraid. They keep frightening us. What will happen if the left shrivels and disappears? Come on, what will really happen if the left disappears? As if the right hasn’t been ruling here for years and years.

Enough already. If the left has to suffer a political death in order to be reborn, so be it. If the right, in order to sober up, has to try to go all the way with its policies without the “hold me back” services of the left, so be it.

Meretz's Yair Golan, second from left, and Nitzan Horowitz campaigning for the March 23 election. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

I’ve had it with being scared all the time of what will happen if a full-monty right-wing government is formed. For once I’d like to see this right wing do something. Give them “governability” – as if they don’t have it – and let them form their dream government.

I’m curious. I’d like something to happen. I’d like reality to stop hanging by a thread. I’d like an event to take place in Israel’s history that will force each and every one of us to really take a side and find out who each of us really is.

Let reality shift. Let the right rise, let the left collapse, or vice versa – let there be an upheaval, but let whatever must happen happen. Let everyone vote according to their heart’s inclination. Let reality decide for itself. Sometimes we have to trust it.

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