Roots Trip: Yachimovich and the Heritage of Labor

With the rise of Yachimovich, a scent of adaptability is ubiquitous; Shelly Yachimovich is not an alternative.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak probably misses the Labor Party now. After all, its new leader aspires to make it the party of e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e, including the Likud and the settlers, and naively says that she is in favor of declaring a Palestinian state - but only through negotiations. In other words, fruitless talks a la Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Today's "Labor" is more "Barakist" and more right-wing than in Barak's time. Barak's philosophy has found a place in people's hearts and his spirit is hovering above the party.

Maybe it's in the DNA. Under certain circumstances Shimon Peres, as well as his successors, would be willing to serve in a government headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and they would easily find ideological justification. When Peres asked "Am I a loser?" his friends mercilessly replied "Yes," because he hadn't taken care of them with jobs and Knesset seats. The sight of the members of this group quarreling over the pickings left for them by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - who formed a coalition in 2003 in the wake of Labor's defeat in the elections - recalls a herd of hyenas swooping down on the pickings of a lion's prey.

Shelly Yachimovich came to the Labor Party as pure as the driven snow, completely untainted - either by the arrogance in the Second Lebanon War, or the "there's no partner" approach. But during her five years in parliament she managed to become more familiar than anyone with her flock, whose lust for power caused it to lose its mind after only 10 months in the oppositional wilderness. That's why her election is not surprising. There's an Islamic saying: "Your ruler will be in your image."

The signs of her acclimation to the rule of the right were blatant during her journey to discover her roots. She discovered that it was her party that encouraged settlers and built settlements, which is how it developed the uncontrollable need to caress the settlement enterprise (disaster ). If she delves further in her journey to the party's roots, Yachimovich will yet discover that the first major transfer was brought about by the founders of her party. The road to joining Lieberman was apparently paved long ago.

With allies like MKs Reuven (Ruby ) Rivlin, Gideon Sa'ar, Haim Katz and Carmel Shama-Hacohen (according to journalist Nahum Barnea in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth ), it seems normal that Yachimovich is not outlining a way to end the occupation and has no clear statement on social issues. You won't find her visiting an encampment in Holon's Jesse Cohen neighborhood, not to mention in Al Araqib in the Negev.

Some see her as a symbol of the protest movement. In fact, she symbolizes taking the protest movement hostage. In a sense she is another Tzipi Livni, since she also lacks a unique sociopolitical viewpoint to differentiate her from Likud. But the original Livni is at least withstanding the temptation to join the Lieberman-Netanyahu government, which the president of the United States joined at the United Nations last week.

The Arab members of Labor do not represent the Arab population, certainly not in light of the disgraceful behavior of vote contractors. Those who should be ashamed are the bosses who encourage the contractors. The sweet revenge will come when the number of Arab voters for Labor in the Knesset elections is lower than the number of registered members.

Also worrisome is the fact that the media is ignoring the situation, as though the Arab population were on a different planet. In any case, it's impossible to expect more from vote contractors who serve a party that is the source of the discrimination from which the Arabs suffer.

When Amram Mitzna and Amir Peretz won, Labor ministers resigned from the government and there was a scent of change in the air (which did in fact dissipate later ). With the rise of Yachimovich, a scent of adaptability is ubiquitous. Shelly Yachimovich is not an alternative. Anyone who is seeking an alternative should search elsewhere.