Waiting for Daphni

The opposition was not swallowed up by colonialism alone. Nor was it the Zionist left's pathetic need to stand at attention every time an Israeli prime minister gets into a bombing frenzy.

Historians will one day describe Kadima as a symptom of the opposition in a society without resistance. Those who voted in the past for Meretz and Labor will not "return home" now. The drift that brought them to Kadima is the same drift turning the Likud into a widening alliance of the far-right Hotovely-Danon party and satellites such as Ehud Barak, or Otniel Schneller, or Yair Lapid in the future. They can all make the most of what democracy has to offer - a political class playing at government and opposition.

This political class, which consists of 120 Knesset members and everyone else who feeds well off it, can move to the coalition, return to the opposition, split, extract, unite, invent issues to squabble over and most importantly get to continue in office. In other words, it can play at opposition, enabling the bourgeoisie to vote for "its own" party. It began with Dash (the Democratic Movement for Change) and continued with Shinui and the Center Party. They all appealed to the bourgeoisie in the name of a "clean," "moderate," "white," "effective," "secular," "decent" alternative. They all excelled at "pragmatism," another name for opportunism.

In those years the political controversy in the Knesset became drained of content, the MKs' wages rose, their economic influence grew and the lobbies were formed. In brief, the political class became an active partner in the capitalism that melts everything. It does not represent the people. It receives power from them in the name of the democratic game. Indeed, the argument between the political blocs disappeared, as did the blocs themselves.

The argument over colonizing the occupied territories ceased to be an internal Israeli argument. The colonization attorneys in the Knesset represent divisions of settlers who are eligible to vote in ballots posted in the occupied territories, in islands of "Israeli democracy" surrounded by an army and regions of subjects who do not have the right to vote. The only ones bearing the burden of fighting the colonization are the Palestinians, the international community and too-few leftist activists.

There is nothing like the argument over the colonial university in Ariel to demonstrate the cohesiveness of the political community, apart from a few leftist exceptions, surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu, who squanders every solution and sentences masses of natives to the "lesser evil" of the bantustan.

But the opposition was not swallowed up by colonialism alone. Nor was it merely the Zionist left's pathetic need to stand at attention every time an Israeli prime minister gets into a bombing frenzy, like Ehud Olmert in Lebanon and Gaza.

Instead, the greatest contribution to this process was the welfare state's dissolution. No Western state has undergone such a process without vociferous resistance. However, just as the return of territories here has been assigned to the right wing, so the Labor Party took it upon itself to dismantle the welfare state and its only support, the Histadrut. Those who took the Histadrut apart knew it was the only interested party that could defend the welfare state.

Since 1985, during the days of the national unity government, and even more so since the formation of the "New Histadrut" during the second Rabin government, destruction has befallen the only political power capable of preventing what the people born in those years are now trying to understand. So we have MKs zig-zagging between air-conditioned offices and cafeterias and luxury cars, while in the blazing, muggy streets, throngs of youngsters search for a lost welfare state without knowing where to begin digging.

Anyone spurring Daphni Leef to gather those masses and go into the Knesset as well is doing the right thing. Maybe this will be a beginning of a different kind.