"Abrasha, come back home," Yitzhak Shamir cried out in a shaky voice in January 1990. He feared that MK Avraham Sharir would leave Likud and knock him off the prime minister's chair. And ruling, as we all know, is the ultimate goal, for Shamir too.
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History repeats. "Kahlon, come back home," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded in an emotional voice a few days ago, and with him the whole Likud leadership. Don't leave us, the MKs begged him, we'll give you everything you want. Finance minister? No problem. Vice prime minister? That too. Third place on the ticket without a primary? We can talk about it. Just don't leave us, because we're so much in love with ruling.
Outgoing Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon says he's disappointed with Netanyahu, but Netanyahu is disappointed with him. Netanyahu is angry with Kahlon for portraying himself as "the good socially aware," while Netanyahu has been pushed into the role of the "great evil" whose only goal is to destroy the poor and empower the rich.
It's very easy to be the good socially aware. You just have to demand increases all the time, favor a larger budget, give to every ministry and pressure group, support pay increases for everyone who requests it, support increased pensions, expand grants to cities and villages, increase subsidies and offer reductions, without taking into account where all this leads to.
If you ask any fake socially aware person where the money will come from, he'll stare at you bemused: That's not my problem. That the problem of the Finance Ministry's economists. It's the prime minister's problem; let him take care of it, let him find the sources. I only understand the spending side of the equation.
Kahlon was this type of fake socially aware politician. He rode the success of his reform of the cell phone industry - but that was an easy reform. There's no workers' committee there, and no primary. Let's see him fight for reforms at the Israel Electric Corporation, the ports and the airport authority. There they have powerful workers' committees and a decent representation in the Likud primary.
If, Heaven forfend, the fake social reformists took over, we would be bankrupt, in a severe crisis and suffering from lower credit ratings, massive unemployment and enormous protests by everyone who only yesterday lived in a land of myths that these fake socially aware politicians fabricated. Look at Greece, with 25 percent unemployment and Spain with 26 percent.
Kahlon burst into the public awareness in 2006 when he finished first in the Likud primary and received the chairmanship of the Knesset Economics Committee. He immediately got to work on payouts, because that's the easiest part. This way the public adores him, without realizing that this is the way to a crash.
In 2009 he was appointed a minister and energetically continued his payout method. Kahlon supported every demand on the government to increase outlays, and when it became apparent at the beginning of the year that the budget needed to be trimmed, he said the government didn't have to pay back debts but "to flood the country with money." Just as in Greece.
In July, when a bill to increase taxes by NIS 14 billion to avoid a dangerous deficit reached the cabinet, Kahlon objected. What did he care? The decision would pass in the cabinet with or without him, and this way he saved his skin - he supported increased spending while objecting to tax rises: the best man in the world. In Greece they would have elected him prime minister.
In the end, after he drove the political world crazy, Kahlon decided not to take part in the election campaign. But in Likud they're still wooing him. The whole party is embroiled in an ethnic trap. The party sees itself as the great savior of the Mizrahi Jews, those from the Middle East and North Africa. But out of 15 Likud ministers in the cabinet, Netanyahu appointed only two Mizrahim - Silvan Shalom and Kahlon - and without Kahlon he'll have only one, an electoral disaster. Shas, Labor and the other parties who crave the social ticket will surely latch on to this.
That's why Netanyahu so much wants the return of the "boy from Olga," as he once called Kahlon, referring to his place of birth. He's also the son of Libyan immigrants and was born in a development town. And he smiles, and he's considered socially aware, even though it's fake social awareness.