Israel’s Fighting Opposition Is Fighting Well for Netanyahu

How many Gazans must be killed to stir the conscience of a Labor Party member? Alas, the alternative to the government has no plan.

Saja Abu Fanni
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Labor MK Isaac Herzog at his campaign headquarters, Tel Aviv, November 21, 2013.
Labor MK Isaac Herzog at his campaign headquarters, Tel Aviv, November 21, 2013.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Saja Abu Fanni
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If they can’t be made in this country, I propose we order from abroad charms against the evil eye. They can be worn by Labor Party members for the great job they’re doing during the Gaza war and to protect against the envious.

MK Omer Bar-Lev, who by the way is a member of the opposition and not Habayit Hayehudi, was furious, as seen on Channel 10. He said “our response was hesitant; we mustn’t agree to a seaport without disarmament” of Hamas. Maybe Bar-Lev should be told the opposition is the main critic of the government, not its cadre for the future.

After the warm embrace the opposition gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we can assume that if he holds a team-building exercise, he’ll hold it with Labor MKs Isaac Herzog, Shelly Yacimovich, Merav Michaeli and Miki Rosenthal, not with his treacherous colleagues on the right.

By the way, during the first Lebanon war, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon consulted with Labor's Yitzhak Rabin, who gave him what he needed when he told Sharon to “tighten, tighten,” referring to the siege of Beirut. In that war, more than 600 Israeli soldiers were killed, not to mention the Lebanese and Palestinian dead, but who counts them?

After Menachem Begin came to power in 1977, the Labor Party was the right wing’s cadre for the future – except for the three years of Rabin’s second term, which marked a rebellion against the right. His bitter fate still strikes fear into the hearts of Labor leaders.

During the current war, the opposition has had nothing to say, even as the number of Palestinian dead approaches 2,000. It hasn’t said anything about the destruction of whole neighborhoods in Gaza. On the contrary, Labor chief Herzog is astounded by Netanyahu’s moderateness. How many Gazans must be killed to stir the conscience of a Labor Party member?

In the days before the storm, the opposition didn’t ask tough questions. There were no demands, for example, for proof of Hamas’ involvement in the abduction and murder of the three teens in the West Bank. And the Gaza operation, with all its dead on the Israeli and Palestinian sides, is the outcome of that dubious accusation.

Worse, even during negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the opposition is silent. Maybe it fears that its remarks will tip off the Palestinians on how to pressure Netanyahu. It turns out you don’t only have to keep quiet during a war, you have to keep quiet during negotiations. Does anyone know what Herzog’s diplomatic plan is? What does Labor think the country’s borders should be? Nice job — the alternative to the Israeli government has no plan.

Where is the Michaeli who in her Haaretz op-eds criticized the government? Does that mean that outside Haaretz you can’t be sane? What happened to the other Labor lawmakers who looked spoiling for a fight when they got into parliament? What patriotism-boosting drug did these people take before they strode into the Knesset? Do extreme-right MKs, even the ignorant ones, become stars while the good people fall silent?

What are the Labor MKs doing when the country is poisoned with nationalism and incitement, when thugs break up rallies and even attack the Hadash party’s offices in Haifa? What do Labor MKs say when the expressing of an opinion invites violence, when Arabs are attacked because of their ethnic origin?

What’s the meaning of the strange silence when the Jewish street belongs to Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked and her ilk? Where’s the child who’ll say the emperor has no clothes? What kind of opposition is it that’s supposed to be sane and yet leaves the sanity to my Haaretz colleague Gideon Levy? Is Israel’s only opposition worthy of the name?

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