To Defeat Netanyahu, Zionist Camp Must Play Dirty

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Zionist Camp slogan (top): It's us or him; Likud's: It's us or them.

The Zionist Camp party got a little confused. The optimistic survey this week saying the party led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni would get 26 Knesset seats compared to Likud’s 23 is far from satisfactory.

The real result of this Channel 2 survey is 26 Knesset seats for Zionist Camp, compared with 38 seats for the Israeli version of the Tea Party: Likud and Habayit Hayehudi (aka the “Jewish Brotherhood”), both of which appeal to the same electorate and are running an identical negative campaign of slander and intimidation.

This is a grotesque campaign of two ruling parties running for reelection. But the Zionist Camp people have only themselves to blame. Anyone who decides to go by that name is declaring that he suffers from an inferiority complex and insecurity. When you’re confident in your identity, there’s no need to wave it around. Just ask Benjamin Netanyahu and his Jewish-state obsession.

Haaretz reported this week that Zionist Camp pays 1.4 million shekels to a PR office and 700,000 shekels to strategists. Party sources said the actual sums are lower. The interesting question is, when are those PR people and strategists going to start working? Until now they haven’t set a foot on the field. This is inconceivable, because all one has to do is to get on the field and roll the ball into an empty goal.

Netanyahu’s rule is ripe for defeat. The people of Israel are fed up with his conduct, have despaired of his promises and are tired of his fear tactics. Instead of wildly storming the field, ramming into rivals and sticking out their elbows, Zionist Camp is giving us polite civics classes on who’s a Zionist.

The elections are far from decided, but if this voluntary paralysis persists, it will have been one of the greatest fiascoes in the history of the Israeli left. Oh, excuse me, Zionist Camp has banned the word “left” — so let us say in the history of the Labor Party, the one that merged with the tatters of Tzipi Livni’s faction, gave up its historic name and replaced it with a pale, unappealing one.

They could have called themselves Democratic Camp. Or Hope. Or Upheaval. But they chose to open themselves to the ridicule of the post-Zionist settler right.

The farce concerning the party’s name is only a symptom of a deeper problem. The air is trembling, bursting with the energy of struggle, but all that the Zionist Camp campaign seems to do is shoot campaign ads. What are the millions being spent on, makeup? Why isn’t the country flooded with posters and stickers? “Bibi go home.” “Herzog — my prime minister.” “You’re cut off, we’ve had enough of you.” “Revolution 2015.” “Saving Israel.” What’s so hard about that?

Maybe they can’t do it, or they don’t know how to do it, or they don’t want to do it. The third option is the worst, of course. But it’s hard to write it off as more days go by and Zionist Camp has yet to unsheathe its claws.

Could it be that Herzog and Livni launched an “us or him” campaign when their real goal is “it’s both us and him, only we can’t reveal this to you until after the election”? Sounds weird, but it could explain why they insist on saying nothing of substance.

To win an election, you have to play dirty. How come they’re not bashing Netanyahu, personally and brutally, for his mismanagement of the summer’s war, for the economic demise, the loss of hope, the insanity in the imperial palace? Why aren’t they attacking Lieberman for the crazy corruption affair? And Bennett for his racism and messianism? Why aren’t they making a supreme effort to deal with the Tea Party by joining forces with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid? And if they don’t want to do that, then why aren’t they attacking Lapid for his brotherhood pact with Bennett?

It doesn’t really matter whether this excessive caution stems from the Zionist Camp leaders’ character traits, from some inexplicable strategy or from a desire not to burn bridges. This is no way to run a revolution.