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Election Analysis: The Incredible Shrinking Israeli Left

There is no sound so delightful as the whimpering of leftists in the morning.

There is no message so hope-inspiring as the screams of outrage from the world and the
accusations that Israelis have voted against “peace.”

There are grounds for all of us to recite a collective Hagomel blessing, for the Jewish
people has just been rescued, at least for the moment, from imminent danger of (self-)
destruction. But the danger is not past. And there are more than enough reasons to doubt that the
new Sharon government will have what it takes to rescue Israel from the Oslo war process.

The clearest and most obvious conclusion from the election is that Israel's Oslo Left is
imploding. The once-mighty Israeli Labor Party, now led by Amram Mitzna and the party's
radical wing, received only 19 Knesset seats (out of 120).

Fewer than one Israeli voter in five voted for the Labor Party, meaning the party now has
about the same degree of popular support as Ross Perot's party received in the 1992 U.S.
presidential election. The local Haifa weekly ran as its banner headline ?Mitzna the Leader of the
Small? (a play on words, since in English ?small? means little and in Hebrew it means Left).

But the loss of seats by Labor does not tell the full story of implosion of the Israeli Oslo
Left. In the last Knesset, the Oslo Left held 42 seats, counting Labor, Meretz, and the “Center
Party.” The latter was nominally a centrist party, but was clearly pro-Oslo and featured Yitzhak

Rabin's daughter as perhaps its best-known leader. In the new Knesset, the Oslo Left is down to
25 seats, a loss of over 40%.

The Labor Party itself dropped from 26 seats to 19, losing only a quarter of its seats. I say
“only” because since its policies had resulted in the murder of 1200 Israelis, I was expecting a far
greater loss. In part, the loss was “small” because much of the hostility by voters to Oslo was
already expressed in Labor's losses in previous elections. Labor also capitalized on the alleged
“scandals” regarding Sharon and on the unwillingness of the leftist media to report properly on
Mitzna's own track record of corruption and sleaze.

Mitzna had benefited from the open endorsement of most of the world's leaders (notably
Britain?s Tony Blair) and from financial resources flowing into Israel from those in other
countries who enthusiastically support any Israeli leader who promises to lead the country on the
path to national suicide.

On the other hand, the endorsement of Mitzna by the PLO and Syria no doubt hurt Labor.
And the party?s pathetic attempts to stampede Israeli voters into supporting Mitzna by running
campaign clips with Yitzhak Rabin were complete failures. Only the halo was missing from
Rabin's head in those clips. Israelis can no longer be persuaded to fast-march to their own
oblivion by the flashing of sentimental camcorder tapes of Rabin.

The aforementioned “Center Party” did not even run this time. But perhaps the most

wonderful piece of news is the collapse of leftist Meretz, which lost 50% of its Knesset strength.
Meretz had 10 seats in the last Knesset, but at the last minute added two more when part of the
Shi'ite wing of the Israeli Labor Party (Yossi Beilin and Yael Dayan) bolted and joined Meretz,
promising to bring over some Labor votes.

Only one Israeli voter in 20 voted for Meretz this round. Meretz was left with only six

seats. Yael Dayan blubbered on TV the day after the election that the collapse of Meretz votes
meant the new Knesset would have no open homosexual sitting in the house!

Clearly Meretz collapsed because the voters, even erstwhile Oslo supporters, understand
that Meretz's policies represent national self-annihilation. Meretz leader Yossi Sarid had the
decency to resign as party chief, and later said Meretz had collapsed because it had failed to

denounce Arafat and the PLO. But my pet theory is that a good part of Meretz's collapse has to
do with its adoption of homosexuality as its number two cause. Meretz, banking on that old myth
about ten percent of the population being homosexual, no doubt expected to pull masses of
voters out of their closets. Not only is the ten percent assumption patently false, but the very
endorsement of homosexual “rights” no doubt drove away many Meretz voters, especially Arab
Meretz voters, always a non-negligible portion of Meretz?s strength.

The Israeli far Left still maintains a near totalitarian stranglehold on the Israeli media, the
courts, and the universities, but this tiny totalitarian elite is now negligible in the Knesset. Will
Sharon have the moxie to challenge their remaining power bases? In the past he has not.

The contraction of Labor was also delicious comeuppance for the party that had led the
anti-democratic assault on the Israeli voting system. In the last election, Israelis could vote
directly for their prime minister. The Left, upset because Israelis voted for the ?wrong?

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


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