The fact that the head of Israel’s opposition could soon join forces with Netanyahu may actually bode well for the Israeli Left and Palestinian citizens alike.
The Israeli media has been beside itself this week with the possibility that the head of the opposition Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party cum Zionist Union, may join Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition, the executive branch of the Israeli government.
Roughly two weeks of chatterbuzz about Herzog-Netanyahu negotiations have yielded the usual five stages of rumors: from denial (“there are no negotiations”); to low expectations (“they’re just talks, they won’t lead to anything”); to portfolio handout speculation (“it’s a done deal, he’s about to get justice minister and communications”); followed by the classic bait and switch (“we didn’t mean it, looks like Lieberman will join instead”); and then finally acceptance (“Herzog can’t turn back now”), as two radio political commentators decreed this morning.
I am not sure why anyone is surprised. Labor has never shied away from sitting in the rightest of right-wing governments in recent years. I remember how many in the Labor camp were shocked when the party joined Ariel Sharon’s government in 2003. Amir Peretz led the party into Kadima’s government in 2006, taking charge of the Defense Ministry and nearly ruining his political rise. The party then joined Netanyahu’s government in 2009 (among the most extreme in Israel’s history) under Ehud Barak, prompting the loss of one of its more promising members, and eventually splitting the party. Labor/Zionist Union actually has some committed people and fresh faces in its faction, but the party as a body seems to have a mind of its own – one with suicidal inclinations.
The failure of this “can’t beat em so join em” move — every single time it is tried — makes apathy an extremely tempting response. Until I realized that there are several excellent reasons Labor should do it (disclosure: In my day job I am a pollster and political consultant, and I have advised on four national election campaigns for Labor, including in 2015):
Be you. Labor should stop pretending to either its voters, members or legislators to be anything other than what it is — a status-quo preservationist institution. If the party breaks (again) – well, when a waiter drops a glass in a Tel Aviv café it is...Read More