Wide Center-left Bloc Could Win Elections

The main thing is to create the impression that a whole side of the political spectrum is uniting. Just take it from Ariel Sharon.

Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery
Party leader Zahava Gal-On, right, and other Meretz MKs celebrate their endorsement by a party conference.
Party leader Zahava Gal-On, right, and other Meretz MKs celebrate their endorsement by a party conference. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Uri Avnery
Uri Avnery

In school I learned that two plus two equals four. In politics I learned that this isn’t necessarily true. Two plus two can be three and a half, five or even 22. So I'd like to repeat my call for Meretz to join a bloc with the Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah. I can’t let up; my heart is in it.

I’ve talked before about my discussion with Ariel Sharon in 1973 after Likud was established. I asked Sharon what the point was.

“You don’t understand,” he answered. “The main thing is to create the appearance that the entire right is uniting. We couldn’t leave anybody out!” The trick was a huge success: A few years later came the historic revolution.

I implore all parties of the center-left to create a similar miracle and carry out the counterrevolution. I call on Meretz to join the Labor-Hatnuah camp on the hope that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and maybe even Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, would join too. After publishing my call in Haaretz last month, a number of reservations were voiced. All of them are valid and worthy of a response.

The first objection is that Livni and Labor chief Isaac Herzog aren’t a real alternative, that their positions are blurred. And the temporary name they chose, Zionist Camp, excludes Arabs, 20 percent of the population.

I’ve already noted that the two aren’t the couple of my dreams, but they have one great advantage: They aren’t Benjamin Netanyahu. And the bloc they’ve established isn’t Likud; they have no Miri Regev, bless her, and no Yariv Levin, Danny Danon or any of their friends.

The Herzog-Livni camp has already made a miracle: It’s the largest party in the polls. It has provided the possibility of changing the government – something no one even dreamed of. So the right is panicking. The danger is that this refreshing innovation will melt or fade in the coming weeks if no new push is added.

It was said there was no need to unite before the election because Meretz would support Herzog for prime minister afterward. Is there a difference? Boy is there a difference.

Politicians and commentators are sticking to the easy math that two plus two equals four. They take the number of Knesset seats based on the latest opinion polls, move them around the chessboard and form imaginary coalitions. It’s logical, realistic, even pragmatic (a particularly beloved word), but there’s not much to it. It’s politics without inspiration or vision.

But a creative act can change the picture. Herzog and Livni have already changed the math with their link-up. The mission is to change the math big-time, and now.

The political map would change if a large bloc were established. A bloc would create excitement, electrify the atmosphere and change the issues under discussion. The bloc would draw voters from other parties, and most importantly, would bring in new armies of voters. Like Barack Obama in 2008, it would replace the apathy of “nothing will change” with “Yes, we can!”

That’s all that matters — not to play around with the number of forecast Knesset seats, but to create seats out of thin air, to arouse, initiate and excite.

Meretz would remain Meretz even within a large alignment. But for the first time it would come in contact with people who see it as a cult of purists of the Ashkenazi elite. It would profit in any case. Yesh Atid would be saved from a certain rout, and Lapid would remain the idol of his fans. Even Kahlon could fulfill his promises with a large bloc behind him instead of indulging in tactical maneuvers between blocs.

The new bloc would have the potential to gain more than 50 of the Knesset’s 120 seats. Along with Aryeh Deri’s Shas, the Arab bloc and the ultra-Orthodox, this bloc could form a stable government.

If God forbid the extreme right rules the country for another five years, I fear deeply for the country. That’s why I’m asking forgiveness for stubbornness. It’s burning inside me.

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