Israelis Keep Making the Mistake of Supporting Centrist Parties

The Israeli voter always makes the same mistake, voting for the new shiny party, which is really just the old party in new packaging.

Why are Israelis so shocked at the behavior of Kadima MKs? What exactly did they expect when several hundred thousand of them voted for the party? Were they really tempted to believe that they were voting for new politics and different politicians? Were they really thinking about ideology in the context of a centrist party? What did they expect from the party in which ultranationalist Yulia Shamalov Berkovich and leftist Nino Abesadze are elected on the same slate? Didn't they realize the deception? If so, they deserve Kadima, and Israel deserves another shattered false illusion of a center party.

Kadima MK Avraham Duan is not to blame for anything, nor are those who are more important than he: Shaul Mofaz, Haim Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi. We should recall that the Kadima initiative was brought about by people even bigger and better than they, from President Shimon Peres to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and including former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni; what right do we have to complain now about the small fry? They did what people have always done in Israeli politics in general and in center parties in particular, from the innocent days of Rahamim Kalanter (who remained in the Jerusalem city coalition even after his party walked out ) until today.

We should blame those who are tempted to believe that this time it will be different. We should blame those who repeatedly give their vote to the all-encompassing parties, which are the parties of nothingness and a vacuum; the generations of center parties, from Dash to Kadima, via the Center Party and Shinui, which are the greatest deception in Israeli politics. They are all always embedded with precious stones, great and glittering stars, which are immediately extinguished and crash. Their slate is always wrapped in a shiny, rustling cellophane of new ideas, a promising system and a fashionable ideology, and that cellophane also tears immediately.

But the Israeli voter who occasionally punishes certain politicians never punishes politics. He always makes the same mistake. It is the Israeli voter who for years has given rise to all these farces, and Israeli politics have not reached at any "new low," as people are now saying; there's nothing new under their sun.

The new low is actually coming from the direction of the public: Before the echoes of this fiasco have died down, the next one is already being concocted. This haste is the real low point: About half of Kadima voters are now saying in the public opinion polls that next time they'll vote for ... Yair Lapid. The pundits are also united: Lapid is the big beneficiary of Kadima's collapse.

Can you believe it? Is there any older (and sadder ) joke than that? What Yigael Yadin, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak and Yosef Lapid were unable to do, Lapid's son, his pale copy, will succeed in doing. Lapid has yet to say anything, and already he's the next winner. It's far more depressing than the behavior of the last of the Kadima backbenchers.

They cry and shoot. Israelis love to wallow in their politics and to be disgusted by them, and afterward they (once again ) go to vote for the center. The political map has become distorted over the years, its boundaries are blurred and the differences among most of its components are minuscule. For years it has not had an iota of a new, subversive or at least alternative idea, and if it has any ideas they have only moved further and further to the right over the years. On this map the center is the right in a mask.

The good bourgeoisie and middle-of-the-road Israelis feel uncomfortable voting Likud, so they vote for Likud in disguise. The leftists, who are of course in favor of two states (but not here and not now ), feel uncomfortable voting for a genuine left-wing party, so they vote center. Welcome to the supermarket of illusions: One chain (Kadima ) closes, and already the next glittering chain opens (Lapid's party Yesh Atid - lit. There's a future ).

But no, there is no future. Mofaz will be forgotten, Hanegbi will become integrated, perhaps, God forbid, Dalia Itzik will also disappear, and Lapid will replace them. Once again the promises will rustle, once again the names will glitter, once again Israelis will fall into the trap placed before them, and once again they will vote for the next big thing, the likes of which we have never had. Afterward they will pretend to be shocked.