The Mother Party

The dance of death threatening to kill the Labor party must be brought to an immediate stop.

My mother voted Labor. Why? First, our people always voted Labor, in one form or another - Mapai or the Progressive Party, the Alignment or Independent Liberals, Labor or Meretz. Second, because my mother wanted Labor to be the country's primary party, pursuing peace and security, carefully and exercising sound judgment. Third, because she wanted a social-democratic party like Labor that would strive toward social justice, and fourth, she wanted a party that would protect the rule of law.

My mother voted Labor in the 2009 election because she didn't want a niche party like Meretz, or a corporate one like Kadima, but an authentic Zionist party situated left of center. She was convinced Ehud Barak was the least bad option and believed despite everything, the party was continuing in the path of David Ben-Gurion.

My mother is an intelligent, energetic and opinionated woman. Had she wanted to vote Kadima, she would have voted Kadima, and had she wanted Meretz, she would have voted Meretz. But my mother preferred to opt for an underwhelming, unexciting party, as long as it showed responsibility. She preferred a party with history, tradition and internal democracy, a party not governed by wealth and spin but by elected institutions.

The voting slip my mother dropped in the ballot bore the words "Labor, led by Barak." That slip sent not only Barak, but also Yuli Tamir, Amir Peretz, Ophir Pines-Paz and Eitan Cabel to the Knesset - both the defense minister and those now being called the "party rebels." But now, Barak is pulling the slip from one side and the rebels from the other, and all are openly betraying the mandate they received. With this, they are liable to break up a historic party with a historic mission with their blame-trading and caprice, petty quarrels and ulterior motives.

It was Barak who began this dance of death. He was correct in choosing to align with Benjamin Netanyahu, both for governmental reasons and his own political agenda, to ensure Labor's place in the coalition. Still, Barak was supposed to understand that when he joined up with the prime minister, he had to sharpen Labor's social-democratic identity. Barak was supposed to realize that now especially, he has to embrace Labor's members and rehabilitate the party. As usual, Barak did the opposite. He blurred his own ideological identity, acting toward colleagues with alternating aloofness and coercion.

But worse than Barak are the party rebels. This week the truth came out - that some intend to desert to Kadima. Not to renew the movement of Berl Katznelson, but to gather in the warm embrace of Haim Ramon, not to return to the values of Aryeh "Lova" Eliav, but to adopt those of media adviser Eyal Arad. To trade Benjamin Ben-Eliezer for Kadima's Eli Aflalo, Shalom Simhon for Kadima's Roni Bar-On and Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini with Tzachi Hanegbi. It is not only acting against the will of the majority and undermining the foundations of democracy, but making a clearly opportunistic move - stealing my mother's voting slip and transferring it from a Barak-led Labor to another party.

My mother is not alone. Just nine months ago, 334,900 men and women cast their ballots for Labor. They did so not because they hadn't heard of Kadima and Meretz, but because like my mother, they wanted a broad, sane social-democratic Zionist party. Most of these voters are the best and most decent among us, the salt of the earth. The older among them built this country, and the young among them are keeping it alive through hard work, productivity, meeting their obligations and demonstrating exemplary citizenship. Neither Barak nor the party rebels has the right to betray these young people, nor do they have the right to misuse their trust. This dance of death threatening to kill the Labor party must be brought to an immediate stop. Through dialogue, responsibility and creativity, Israel's mother party can still be saved.