Likud's Ideology Will Now Move Toward the Center

You don’t change a winning brand name like Likud. But the ideological atmosphere within the party will owe more to Kadima than to the teachings of Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin.

To attack Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t need Shaul Mofaz. Such a strike, if it is ever carried out ‏(and it seems it won’t be necessary‏), will enjoy consensus support even without the Kadima chairman.

He also doesn’t need Mofaz to change the system of government, or even to support a replacement for the Tal Law, which governs draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox: Whatever new law is passed, Netanyahu won’t throw the Haredim out of his coalition, for fear that Mofaz will once again betray him. And the Haredim, even if a law “with teeth” is passed, will neither enlist nor be drafted. Nor will the Arabs, who have even greater immunity than the Haredim, be compelled to serve. And certainly they won’t serve, even in civilian national service.

Ostensibly, Netanyahu threw Mofaz − the ultimate “man with no God” − a life jacket. But like a Little Red Riding Hood gambit, it was really intended to destroy Kadima. Until the party is destroyed, utterly, Netanyahu will make use of Kadima to neutralize the ideological members of Likud. Now, with the safety net provided by Mofaz, he will step up the pace of steps meant to blur the few remaining differences between Likud and the rest of the post-ideological Israeli center.

That is how, for the price of a few coins tossed to a beggar, the long-talked-of political “big bang” has started becoming a reality. When the time comes, Labor and Yair Lapid’s party will also be able to sign on to the diplomatic annex of the Likud-Kadima agreement. And so will Shas. Why not? Shas has already sold itself, body and soul, more than a few times, first and foremost when it voted for the disastrous Oslo Accords in exchange for a mess of pottage: a ‏(false‏) promise that its leader at the time, Aryeh Deri, wouldn’t stand trial, along with additional funding for its school system, Hama’ayan Hatorani.

Without this unholy deal with Mofaz, Netanyahu would have trouble surviving the demolition of Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood, the uprooting of the Migron outpost and the continued freeze on the settlements. But now, backed by the clowns from Kadima − and with the power of authentic Likud members ‏(as distinct from Moshe Feiglin’s gang‏) steadily weakening − he will even be able to finally bury the bill to legalize the settlement outposts. And Yisrael Beiteinu will swallow it and keep silent, while Habayit Hayehudi will accept it and make excuses.

With Kadima practically in receivership, Netanyahu can lead his “unity government” almost anywhere he wants − even to implementing Likud’s platform. But the co-opting of Mofaz wasn’t meant to bolster Netanyahu’s ability to implement the ideology in whose name he was elected. On the contrary: His goal was to dilute it with the empty slogans of those who clutch at straws for survival.

He will use Kadima to move − and this time seriously − in the direction of his speech at Bar-Ilan University. That “two states for two peoples” speech will no longer be a forced gesture for which he can’t be condemned. It will change from a political necessity into a political goal. Without Kadima, though, Netanyahu wouldn’t be able to wave this banner and remain in power.

Mofaz, since one never leaves home forever, is now crawling home on all fours. But even if the physical home continues to be called Jabotinsky House, this will no longer be Likud’s home. You don’t change a winning brand name like Likud. But the ideological atmosphere within the home will owe more to Kadima than to the teachings of Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin.

And Kadima’s path is the path of Ariel Sharon, the architect and overseer of the uprooting from Gaza ‏(which Netanyahu voted for‏), and that of Ehud Olmert and Mofaz. To properly describe their personal and political trickery, there’s an urgent need to add new words to the Hebrew dictionary − especially to capture the new depths of stench and rot.