Opinion

The Left’s Miri Regev Fiasco

Likud MK Miri Regev's birthday celebration in the Knesset, May 27, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Zehava Galon wrote an op-ed in Haaretz in Hebrew titled “If you understand Regev, you understand everything” (May 23). It’s interesting how it is possible to understand everything without understanding anything.

“There is something heartbreaking in Miri Regev’s latest zigzagging about Gideon Sa’ar,” she wrote (in the Hebrew version) – referring to Regev’s confession two weeks ago that she lied when she said she voted for Sa’ar in the Likud primary. “It was possible to imagine her trying to calculate where the power is located today, and where it might be found in the future,” analyzed Galon – and declared about Regev that she “is the most important person in politics today.”

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Anyone who thought for a moment that this was a compliment should wake up and brew some strong coffee: “Regev is important because of what she doesn’t have, and because of the enormous hunger for power that has filled this vacuum within her.”

Regev in her own right does not interest Galon (“She is nothing special, Likud is full of people like her”), but as a parable. The same goes for her entry into politics, which recently was made public by journalist Amnon Abramowitz. “Mrs. Regev owes me a thank you,” he said on television, “because she asked me at the time: ‘Who is it worth going to, Likud or Labor?’ I told her to go to Likud, and she told me: ‘But you know my views match those of the Labor Party.’ I told her, ‘Change your opinions.’”

According to Galon, Abramowitz’s story is “more than just being an ugly political anecdote, it is testimony to her cynicism.” Regev’s choice of Likud even though her opinions match those of the Labor Party is presented as simple testimony to her serving her own political interests, nothing more.

But Galon, like Abramowitz, is completely indifferent to the flipside of the coin. They are totally blind to the gorilla that is beating its chest in the center of the picture they are looking at. How is it that no one asked what led Abramowitz to propose to Regev that she join Likud even though she admitted to him that her views were closer to that of Labor? Why was the possibility of Regev joining Labor so absurd to him that he recommended that she convert and change her opinions? How is it that no one sees this story as testimony to cynicism on Abramowitz’s part?

How is it that Galon, who as chairwoman of Meretz led the party’s fight to open up to new communities – in other words, Mizrahim – missed out on the deep political importance of Abramowitz’s anecdote and preferred to reduce it to an apolitical, personal incident that represents only the hollow character of Regev and her ilk?

Galon is right that “if you understand Regev, you understand everything,” but Galon refuses to understand. What does it mean that a woman such as Regev cannot find a place in Labor? What does it say about the Israeli political system that the only political home open to Regev, regardless of her views, was Likud? That Regev found her place in Likud even though she did not belong there ideologically is a badge of shame for Labor, not for Regev. That Labor was closed to her and let her “fall into the hands” of the right – this was Labor’s missed opportunity. That a political bulldozer with left-wing views such as Regev was forced to the (far) right is the left’s biggest fiasco.

That in addition to all this, on the left they are blaming her and see her political position as the result of her dishonest “choices” while displaying typical Ayn Randian crudity that ignores the true political roadblocks placed in the paths of life – is just adding to the crime.

Regev’s loyalty to Benjamin Netanyahu is the plainest thing in the world. She is loyal to the person who gave her power, a place and a voice in this world. What is more natural than that?

Former Labor Knesset member Daniel Ben Simon said that at the beginning of her political career, Regev asked him to speak with Ehud Barak to reserve her a place on the Labor Party slate. (Haaretz Magazine, July 21, in Hebrew) Barak refused and told her to run like everyone else. All we can do now is imagine what would have happened if Barak had been endowed with long-term political foresight, and had given her a spot.