The Morning After: The Death of Israel's True Left

In their effort to bring Isaac Herzog to power, Meretz's traditional supporters may deal a fatal blow to both him and their own party.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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A worker at a printing factory in an Arab Israeli villages cuts freshly printed election banners of Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, left, and Meretz leader Zehava Galon.
A worker at a printing factory in an Arab Israeli villages cuts freshly printed election banners of Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, left, and Meretz leader Zehava Galon. Credit: Reuters
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

Today is Wednesday, March 18, 2015. I arose to a new morning and I had coffee. Now I’m completely awake and I sense that something is missing. Oh, there it is: Meretz isn’t there anymore. Perhaps I shall compose a poem about the party, in the style of Augusto Monterroso.

Meretz didn’t make it past the vote threshold. I was 50 votes short — your vote, and yours too, were missing. You went with the big party this time because you were thinking big. What began with “anyone but Bibi” ended in “not Meretz.” It’s still not clear yet whether Bibi is finally out, but what is clear is that Meretz is out of the picture.

This is the way the Israeli left ends, because without Meretz nothing is left but right-rocks and center-sand. And so the curse “The left is upon you, Israel” was lifted, as if we were Philistines come to gouge Samson’s eyes, when in fact all we wanted was to open your eyes in a time of blindness.

Who will do this in our stead, and what will our rivals do in our absence? Whom will they accuse of subversion, treason and anti-Zionism? Whom will they accuse of being behind the High Court of Justice and B’Tselem, academia and the media, culture and literature, the Israel Prize and the New Israel Fund? Who can they manage to scare, without an actual scapegoat to accuse?

Even anti-Semitism does not need Jews in order to keep on burning; the tiniest amount is enough to keep the spark alive and to rekindle the flame.

I know, your decision to jump ship at the last moment was not taken lightly. You deliberated for a day, you slept on it overnight, and when Meretz needed you more than ever, precisely then were its hundreds of thousands of supporters scattered to the winds, leaving it all alone.

Ingrates, all of them: When they needed it, it was there for them, preserving their sanity and cleanliness amid all the insanity and filth. And they betrayed it: Zehava Galon and Ilan Gilon will not be in the Knesset, but neither will you. We shall be comforted and avenged in the election of the über-mensch Baruch Marzel, since there, in the darkness, one does not become entangled in the web of predicting the future through the stars.

For years the fascist right has had the soul of the left in its sights, and now it shall have it, because Meretz is the soul. The hands are the hands of Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennet, but why play into their dirty hands by giving them your voice, your vote and fulfilling their dastardly schemes. Instead of playing it safe, you scattered your one vote to the winds. Only yesterday you cast your ballot, and already you have no idea where you will find it tomorrow.

No, not all of its tens of thousands of supporters turned their backs on it; there are still, here and there, Meretz loyalists who kept the faith. More than 100,000 Israelis, Jews and Arabs, voted for it, but a few dozen absentees flushed down the toilet the tens of thousands of ballot slips of those who did vote. That is how four Knesset seats were lost. Not even the surplus vote agreement between Zionist Union and Meretz could help, since votes for a party that fails to reach the minimum threshold are lost.

You weigh the political considerations for yourselves, but no one will tell you what to do, right? You are above moral considerations, no one can preach to you. As individuals who have accumulated experience and scars in the course of your lives, you know what is good for you and for the state, but you also have to know a little math: You gave Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog one seat, and took from him four safe Knesset seats. Your misplaced vote jeopardizes the entire future coalition, which is starting out with an overdraft, a handicap.

Were I in Herzog’s place, I would explain this profit-loss formula to you myself. I would warn you, plead with you: Don’t do this to me, that’s all I need on top of all my other troubles. My mission is difficult in any event, and without the seats of Meretz it will be impossible. Without them, I don’t have a chance, and relief and deliverance will not arrive from another place.

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