An attempt to infiltrate Likud with leftist voters is both immoral, impractical, and liable to backfire
The leftist swamp is abuzz in the last few days following an initiative (Hebrew) by Gil Kidron, who wants 10,000 leftists to join the Likud party in order to change it from within. So far, he says, he’s managed to convince 400 leftists to register themselves as Likudniks. Kidron, who makes no bones of the fact he is mimicking Moshe Feiglin and his Manhigut Yehudit (“Jewish Leadership”) faction, tried to convince me to join. He failed, so I’ll take the time to explain why.
To begin with, and most importantly, this idea is immoral, because it is based on deceit. While Kidron keeps saying nothing he plans is secret, the idea of overtaking a party by activists who abhor its ideas in order to change its policy is deceit nevertheless. It’s done according to the rules and is completely legal, yes, and it is still deceitful. There’s plenty of untruths in Israeli politics without us adding to it.
Secondly, this idea encapsulates both despair of politics and a cynical attempt to bypass. Essentially, Kidron says that our camp has no change of achieving power; So, instead of working hard, showing a stiff upper lip and waiting for the pendulum to swing leftwards – which it may still do – we should behave as cuckoos, and lay our eggs in other birds’ nests. There’s nothing to bring over Likud voters to your ideas like their surprise when they hear one of their elected representatives speaking hotly about the need to end construction in the settlements.
In response, Kidron has pointed out that if rightwing cuckoos like the authors of “Torat Hamelekh,” the murderer Yoram Shkolnik, settler leader Meir Bartler and other extreme right-wingers (Hebrew) register to the Likud, and manage to drag into the Knesset Kahanists like Tzippi Hotovely and characters like Ophir “McCarthy” Akunis, Danny Danon and others – well, they can’t bloody well complain about a few leftist cuckoos.
That, however, is not the case. The Likud was, once, a liberal party – or, at least, one which struggled between its liberal and nationalistic elements. That was a long time ago, however: Some 30 years ago. There are still liberal remains in Likud – the names of Rubi Rivlin, Benny Begin and Dan Meridor are often mentioned – but they no longer serve as anything more than fig leaves.
Benny Begin made it clear when he left the Knesset after the 1999 elections: There is no longer an electorate, he said, for people like him, who – trying to square the circle – believe both in Greater Israel and in human rights. More than a decade has passed since that speech, and the chasm between the Israeli right wing – which is essentially volkisch and is based on a concept of racial superiority, the so called “Jewish genius” – has widened to the point it can no longer be bridged. Like many good things in Israel, the liberal right wing became a casualty of the occupation. You can’t be a liberal and lord it over another people. Human rights are not divisible. The Likud voters of today are clearly right-wingers, people who cheer Danny Danon when he describes Rubi Rivlin as a “collaborator of the left.”
Ok – some of Kidron’s supporters would tell me – so what if it’s immoral. Screw morality. We’re fighting for our country. All means are sanctified by this cause. I understand their argument, but it fails, for several practical reasons.
Let’s start with the funding. In order for Kidron’s method to work, 10,000 leftist will have to cough up 64 NIS per year each, for two years (the baseline requirement for registering as a Likud member). This means some 1,280,000 NIS which will make their way from the left, which is already severely underfunded, to the Likud. If those people give that money away to purposes they actually believe in, it will do much more good.
Next: The likud voting system. It allows candidates to distribute the famous “liquidation lists”, which tell their registered supporters who to vote for, and more importantly who not to vote for. Assuming leftist cuckoos do make it to the primaries, it’s a safe bet all real candidates will order their supporters to vote against them. And if they do manage to survive this, which is not likely, the Likud has a party tribunal, which can eliminate candidates.
Furthermore, while the Kidron supporters won’t get far, the Likud can use the attempt to infiltrate it as a bloody shirt to be waved. It will say that the left is so frightened of it, it is trying to deceive the public. Any decent demagogue can run wild with this. Kidron’s move is likely to fail, but will serve as rhetorical ram against the left for decades. The damage, ironically, will be worse if Kidron actually manages to push a leftist as a Likudnik MK.
In short, Kidron and his supporters are asking to waive our principles in order to carry out a political operation whose chances of success are nil, and the damage from it is significantly greater that any miniscule reward it may actually get. Say “no” to Kidron. Let’s leave politics-as-deceit to the long-time specialists: The settlers.