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Election Analysis: The Incredible Shrinking Israeli Left

The Am Echad Party of Amir Peretz, head of the Histadrut Trade Union federation,
picked up an extra seat, and now holds three. The subliterate Peretz, best known for his Zapatista
moustache and the impressions of him done by super-comic Eli Yatzpen, is not well-defined
ideologically, and his naked vote buying makes him comparable to Samuel Flatto-Sharon, a
fugitive wanted in France for embezzlement who bought his way into the Knesset in the 1970's.

No doubt part of the jump in votes for Peretz was due to the deep recession Israel is now
in and the unfounded belief that Peretz has some thoughts about how to improve things. I suspect
he has no thoughts about anything, period.

Natan Sharansky's party collapsed, winning a measly two seats, and Sharansky also
promptly resigned from office. Not a bad role model for Mitzna. The era of Russian immigrant
parties in Israel is over. Clearly the immigrants have become Israelis in a political sense and are
voting now as Israelis, mainly for the Likud and the Right.

The Ichud Leumi party, the only list unambiguously totally opposed to Oslo, won a
mildly respectable 7 seats, although I had expected more. In part, it lost seats because the Herut
party refused to merge with it or drop out of the race and drew away voters. The Kahanist Herut
however failed to pass the minimum vote threshold and did not make it into the Knesset.

The remaining Rodeo Clowns, the flock of picayune parties that always plague Israeli
elections, did not get in. Besides Herut, the only one even coming close was the pothead
Tikkunesque Green Leaf party, dedicated to good marijuana and “trance” parties.

The danger of a Mitzna-led government of national self-destruction is now past, although
the Israeli Left is convinced that it was never so correct as it is now, and that the only reason it
lost was that Labor and Meretz did not go far enough in appeasing the PLO and rewarding
Palestinian violence.

But a different danger is now upon us. Ever since 1977, in every single election the
Likud ran on a platform renouncing the ideas of the Labor Party. Israeli voters repeatedly elected
Likud governments precisely because they rejected Labor Party ideas and presumed the Likud
would implement policies completely opposite those of Labor in many crucial areas.

But in every single case where the Likud was elected, once in office it proceeded to carry
out and implement Labor Party policies and ideas in most areas of political life. This included the
Oslo Lite of Bibi Netanyahu and Sharon?s posturing about how a Palestinian state might be
something very nice after all.

The Likud has always been a party of incompetence and bungling. The real danger when
the Likud is in office is that the Likud fails to govern, fails to lead, fails to rule. The Likud in
office always mysteriously morphs into the Other Labor Party. If it does so again this time,

Heaven help us.

Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Haifa University. His
book ?The Scout? is available through Amazon.com. He can be contacted at
steven_plaut@yahoo.com

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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