Morning-after Sickness

It is not only the split that is causing trouble for the center-left but also, and perhaps even more so, the lack of leadership in that bloc or the leadership which appeared too late.

Niva Lanir
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Niva Lanir

Earlier this week (Dec. 10), Haaretz published a survey about the upcoming elections, a chronicle foretold. "Haaretz poll: Majority of Israelis say Netanyahu will retain premiership," explained the political analyst, Yossi Verter. "The center-left bloc has disintegrated while the right-wing bloc has never seemed so strong and united." And anyway, 81 percent of the public believes that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be re-elected.

Perhaps. Nevertheless, there have been elections in which the left was more divided than the right and won. And the opposite. Only a few weeks ago, the analysts announced that, according to the public opinion polls, if President Shimon Peres were to head a center-left bloc, Netanyahu would face defeat. That is to say, it is not only the split that is causing trouble for the center-left but also, and perhaps even more so, the lack of leadership in that bloc or the leadership which appeared too late.

In recent months, until Tzipi Livni joined the race, there was a strange kind of election campaign. One candidate for the premiership and two candidates from the opposition who were hoping to join his coalition after the elections and helping him to internalize the message that he would be the next prime minister.

Quite a few of the 81 percent who hold that view, are followers of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party or of Shelly Yacimovich, the Labor leader.

What would have happened if Livni had announced earlier that she was running and [former Labor MK] Amir Peretz had joined her at that time? In politics there is no "if." There are results and there is "the morning after." A week after Peretz left the Labor Party, it is worth noting two results of this move. The new recruits to Yesh Atid announced that "this was the dirtiest trick of all times." Yacimovich proposed "taking a hose and washing away the events of the past week."

There have always been, and always will be, splits on both right and left. They have given birth to movements and leaders and they have also destroyed them. From the time of David Ben-Gurion onward - Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres, Geula Cohen and Tzahi Hanegbi, Shmuel Tamir, Lova Eliav, Ezer Weizman, Ariel Sharon, Dan Meridor, Yitzhak Mordechai, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Dalia Itzik and Haim Ramon - many good people have retired/left/split/crossed the lines/ defected. And the dirt and the stench? Sometimes they are like pornography - a matter of geography: If they left you, or are threatening your place in the Knesset or the number of seats you'll get - then it is a stench/defection/ bloated ego/opportunism. If they are joining or uniting with you, then it is a matter of courage/ determination/integrity/leadership.

The effect of Peretz's move is still in its infancy. On "the morning after" it may turn out to be much worse when a number of elected representatives decide to stand their ground.

Yacimovich built an absorption center in the Labor Party for the graduates of the 2011 social protest movement. That move and her election campaign are backed by surveys which show that peace is not at the top of the agenda for youngsters from the protest movement (and not just them ). In any case, the feasibility of a peace agreement with the Palestinians is not clear and therefore it should not be dealt with; and a withdrawal from the social agenda would be harmful. Therefore, they are not raising two flags. There is one big flag, and a perhaps a tiny, toy flag alongside it.

I don't know whether the fight with Peretz broke out over this issue; I am convinced this was the reason why it exploded. It seems that the feasibility of carrying out Yacimovich's economic plans is not higher than the feasibility of a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, Yacimovich has lost the battle with Peretz. It can be assumed that she'll also lose the battle over the economic program; it simply won't take place.

If there is any water left in her hose, perhaps she'll clean up the mud that was slung in the face of Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer by her associates who called him "the Feiglin of the Labor Party" - a reference to the ultra-right-wing Likud member. Or, in more pungent wording: "I've gotten rid of my Feiglin."

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