Pages: 1 2
There’s a price—as noted, playing along with a delusive, U.S. and European-propelled approach to the Palestinians while leaving bad-boy Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Israel Our Home faction almost alone in speaking blunt truths. But with the Palestinian side, for any fair-minded observer—including much of the incoming Congress—blatantly indisposed to compromise, it’s a tolerable price for the time being.
Where, though, does all this leave Labor?
The question resonates deeply in Israel, since it was Labor that led the country for 29 of its first 30 years and is still associated with its founding and early triumphs.
Indeed, it was not for nothing that in this week’s press conference Barak claimed the newly formed party “will be centrist, Zionist and democratic and act according to the legacy of Ben-Gurion”—David Ben-Gurion having been Israel’s first prime minister and Labor’s dominant figure.
In other words, Barak was saying that to be true to Ben-Gurion—to Labor—one had to leave Labor.
Is he right? More so regarding Labor’s security legacy than its economic legacy.
Traditionally Labor was hawkish, realistic about Israel’s neighborhood and leading it to victory in the 1948, 1956, 1967, and—albeit much more problematically—1973 wars. But it was also socialist, saddling Israel with statist structures that it took Netanyahu’s reforms, as finance minister from 2003 to 2005, to partially remove.
In the 1990s, though, Labor, along with its economic leftism, embraced a political leftism in the form of the disastrous, bloody Oslo “process” with Yasser Arafat.
And it is Labor’s left wing today—the folks Barak and his allies have now abandoned—that, like other leftist circles in Israel, still clings to an ossified statism in economics and a reflexive peace-nowism toward the Palestinians and Syria.
Labor’s eventual demise, then, seems to have been written in its socialist genes. But as for an older time when socialists could also be fighting Zionists, the new Independence party—as a Labor offshoot—will make an important contribution if it can partially resurrect it.
And as for what’s left of Labor itself, it’s to be hoped that the Israeli public will keep it, and like-minded elements, electorally marginal.
Pages: 1 2