This week's news is simple and clear: Ehud Barak is leaving and Danny Danon is rising; Dan Meridor disappeared and Zeev Elkin was promoted; Benny Begin was ousted and Yariv Levin got a boost. While Tzipi Livni is devouring Yair Lapid's party, which devoured Kadima, which devoured Labor, which devoured Meretz, the extreme right is consolidating its rule over the self-described "national camp." While the center-left is splintering and weakening and failing to present an alternative worthy of the name, the right-right is growing ever stronger.
Fascism? Not yet. But the new faces of the Lieberman-Netanyahu duo's renewed ruling party are problematic faces. They herald the erosion of the rule of law, the castration of liberal democracy and the loss of national responsibility. The dramatic news of the week is that the darkness that has taken over the rightist bloc in the last two years now threatens to take over the State of Israel.
Many people loathe Barak. But even those who loathe the defense minister most will soon long for his good judgment. Many people dismiss Meridor. But even those who scorn the legal-political intellectual will soon mourn the absence of the excellence he embodies. Some people see Begin as an extremist, delusional ideologue. But even the most bitter opponents of this prince of princes will soon grasp how much his sense of values will be missed.
The political system that this week replaced Barak-Meridor-Begin with Danon-Elkin-Levin is a political system that is going off the rails. It is rejecting the qualities and values of democratic Israel and adopting the qualities and values of a benighted, aggressive, nationalist Israel.
One's heart goes out to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Why bother winning an election that will turn you into the left flank of the crazed government that will arise? Why bother putting together a government in which you will be the hostage of Avigdor Lieberman, Tzipi Hotovely and Naftali Bennett?
After all, it's already clear that the next "Likud-Beiteinu" government will bury every good and beautiful thing that Zionism has succeeded in producing. It's already clear that Netanyahu's third government will be that of an Israeli Tea Party and will end in disaster. Is this the legacy Netanyahu wants to leave behind? Does he really want to go down in history as the one who turned the Jewish and democratic state into a state that is neither Jewish nor democratic, neither enlightened nor worthy?
Yet one also can't help being furious at Netanyahu. He had an opportunity to move to the center. He had an opportunity to unite all the sane Zionist forces under a single political roof. He could have been the statesman who liberated the Israeli majority from the tyranny of the settlers and the ultra-Orthodox and the burden of the loss of hope.
But Netanyahu preferred the short-term comfort of Shas and the Yesha Council of settlements and the Likud Central Committee. Netanyahu preferred the company of the Katzes (Yisrael and Haim ) and Moshe Feiglin. He made himself dependent on the vote-contractors and those who fan the flames of fanaticism.
What will happen? It will be bad. Ever since the 1950s, the Herut movement, out of which Likud grew, has sought to moderate itself and prove that it is not just national, but also liberal. This week, the Herut movement returned to being the party of raw nationalism and crude aggression. From this perspective, the expulsion of Begin and Meridor from Likud party headquarters at Metzudat Ze'ev is far more than a symbol. There's no longer any room for the children of Menachem Begin and Eliyahu Meridor in the ruling party that is now emerging - one devoid of all restraints.
But Barak's departure from politics is also more than just a symbol. In the childish, virtual, splintered center-left of 2012, there is no longer any room for men of action and responsible adults. This summer brought an end to the old elite of norms and the old elite of service, which didn't succeed in renewing themselves and producing heirs. Therefore, at a time when the strengthening Israeli right is marching us all toward the abyss, there are no longer any real forces in the country that can stand in its path and bar the way.