A Guide for the Perplexed Leftist

It doesn't matter which party you vote for, as long as the ultra-Orthodox-right-wing bloc is stopped.

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It is no surprise that so many older and wiser members of the left-wing Zionist camp have yet to decide which party to entrust their future to in the coming years. The mix that is the center-left bloc has turned Kadima, Labor and Meretz into identical triplets. It doesn't matter which of these parties you vote for, but rather which you don't vote for. As long as the ultra-Orthodox-right-wing bloc is stopped.

Who knows, perhaps Kadima will catch up to Likud at the last minute, and it would be a waste to use up a vote on the Labor Party. On the other hand, if Ehud Barak can eke out another two Knesset seats, perhaps he will pull the next government a bit to the left. But if we are already talking about the left, then why not go another step and vote Meretz?

Here now is a series of tests for left-wing Zionists choosing among the three parties. (Hadash, which is not characterized as left-wing Zionist, is not part of the coalition game.)

The peace and settlements test: Which of the three parties will most ardently support efforts by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to revive the Clinton parameters and salvage the Saudi peace initiative? Is it Kadima headed by Tzipi Livni, who rejected Ehud Olmert's compromise formula on the issue of Jerusalem and opposes the return of even one elderly refugee? And who will dismantle outposts and freeze settlement expansion, as is required by the Mitchell Report and the road map? Is it Labor headed by Barak, who fails to even carry out a High Court order to evict 45 families from Migron? Is it Labor's Yitzhak Herzog, who justified the establishment of a new neighborhood in the settlement of Givat Ze'ev?

The human rights test: Which party does more for the cause of social justice, bridges socioeconomic gaps, preserves the rights of gays and lesbians, combats the trafficking of women, and protects the environment? Which is the only party of the three that has not supported the disqualification of the Arab factions from the elections, staking a position that a Jewish and democratic state means a state for the Jewish people and all its citizens?

The policy in the territories test: Which of the three parties will not bomb crowded residential areas knowing full well that hundreds of children will be buried under the rubble? Which party will oppose, albeit unnecessarily late, a disproportional response to rocket fire at Israeli towns? Who will demand an end to the collective punishment of the residents of Gaza, a lifting of unnecessary checkpoints in the West Bank, and an end to the plunder of Palestinian land for expanding settlements under the guise of "security needs?"

The Benjamin Netanyahu test: The leader of which of the three parties will not, under any circumstances, sit around the cabinet table alongside Benjamin Netanyahu and his personal imports - Benny Begin, Moshe Ya'alon, Tzipi Hotovely - and the rest who oppose any compromise in "Judea and Samaria? " Is someone ready to wager that Kadima's Shaul Mofaz, Ruhama Avraham Balila and Eli Aflalo won't take a hop and a step backward and return to Likud? Ophir Pines-Paz does not deny that even after his threat to leave Labor for Meretz, Ehud Barak still refused to promise him not to set foot in a Netanyahu government.

The Avigdor Lieberman test: Will Livni and Mofaz prefer the opposition benches to sitting in a government with a former member of Meir Kahane's Kach movement? Labor has failed the initial exam, and there is no guarantee it will pass the makeup. In October 2006, Herzog, Amir Peretz and Eitan Cabel worked late to try to convince the party's central committee to agree to the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as deputy prime minister and strategic affairs minister. Pines-Paz was the only one who resigned from the government in protest of the move.

Who gained from the party's legitimization of hatred of Israeli Arabs? The Israeli Arab representative, Raleb Majadele. According to some polls, undecided voters in the "center-left bloc" will determine whether Majadele (15th on the Labor list) makes it into the 18th Knesset, or Otniel Schneller, the settler representative in Kadima (27th on the list) or Meretz's new acquisition, Talia Sasson (7th on the list), the author of a report on the outposts.

The final test: At the outset of the struggle against the war in Vietnam, a journalist asked a protester demonstrating outside the White House if he really believed he had the power to change America, which overwhelmingly backed the war. "I'm not sure at all if I'll succeed in changing America," the man said. "I'm here so that America, the one that supports the war, will not change me." Which party would such a man vote for tomorrow?