It wasn’t ego that split the center-left bloc. Social and political disintegration are tricky topics to explain in brief, but they have to do with increased centralization of power, which divides society into ever smaller sectors.
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Privatization did not create decentralization (commercial television is an example). Instead, it created an ever more powerful military, military industries, and the state of settlers as well as economic and media conglomerates. It created a local and foreign financial center and an ideological education system.
All these hire masses of people who are dependent and mainly non-unionized. The workers come from most of the population’s various groups. A society of breadwinners is crumbling in the name of loyalty to the center, acceptance of its dictates and the inability to organize against its abuses. Our society is breaking up like soil before a bulldozer.
Consider, for example, one symptom of the opposition’s weaknesses. It is clear that most Israelis still prefer authoritative men: male bosses for the economy, the army, the media, politics, local government and the academic world. Yes even in the academic world. Even female professors teaching gender studies live fairly well with this reality. But in the political sphere of the leftist opposition, there is a preference for women as leaders. Meretz of 1992, with its male MKs dancing a victory hora at the Tel Aviv cultural center Tzavta, is gone. There is no new ideology to take its place, just “new images” that suit a limited sector.
Jews who vote for far-left Hadash made it clear, in a softly worded statement on Facebook, that they prefer Da’am (headed by a woman) despite the probability that their votes will be wasted. The Labor slate and Shelly Yacimovich look excellent, but not as a management alternative. What was once Kadima is now two things: A woman from its slate as head of the diminishing Hatnuah, and “a man of our own,” who is suddenly gathering strength from the “tough guys.” Yair Lapid is a man. Naftali Bennett is a man’s man. And not to mention “the cannon,” as singer Sarit Hadad dubbed the prime minister.
Would anyone on the left dare propose a victory over the right with a more varied group of leaders, as a response to the popular question, “Who else can lead?” Not very likely. Over there, they hate even Histadrut labor federation chairman Ofer Eini (even after his unparalleled victory over Pelephone on the issue of unionized labor).
This is a profound, tragic matter: Another irreparable rift, but the pleasure of self-purification, of self-righteousness, of mourning defeat while growing ever smaller, is the greatest pleasure of the left. So what else has the left lost? The relationship to Mizrahi voters in the north and south. This is a well-known fact, but nothing has been learned from it, nor has anything been learned from the failure to respect red lines when it comes to the Orthodox. For instance, take Meretz’s political ad starring a stereotypical “Mizrahi girl” speaking out against the Haredim. Watch it, and everything becomes clear. By the way, “a girl like that” would never be elected in the Meretz primary.
Most sectors of society are hiding behind a broad nationalistic back. Some are hiding behind new political sensitivity, which has not yet led to any type of solidarity other than minor, short-term alliances. It seems that all the players in the political arena are profiting from their disputes; their value in the Knesset is going up. Politics is merchandise. The voters will be forgotten soon enough, and everything will go back to the way it was MKs, consultants, strategists, sectors, leftist groups. Even feminists, as the example above suggests, instead of establishing a women’s party and persuading women by pushing back against the bulldozer to fight for equality, will opt for NGOs with strident campaigns. They will ignore the fact that a huge number of women, the majority, voted for the man’s man.
Mizrahim will continue to preserve, almost clandestinely, their justified feeling of discrimination, as they are drawn repeatedly into political parties that choose funding over a faithful struggle against the government. The radical left will retreat back to the bubble of its colony, preferring ironic Facebook statuses to an altered status quo. And once again, 1.6 million Arabs in Israel will be left to fall apart alone. After all, until a unified slate is formed consisting of Hadash, Balad, and the United Arab List-Ta’al because discrimination against Arabs is unified, and Jews who want to oppose it would vote for that slate the Arab sector will not be counted. But elections, like weddings, are a wonderful time for self-deception.