UPDATE: Haaretz reports that while Tzahi Hanegbi has deserted Kadima and returned to Likud, he has not yet succeeded in persuading any colleagues to jump ship. Mofaz is trying to invoke Knesset sanctions against four of the rebels, which indicates that they will probably be joining the Likud soon.
Since the brain-death of Ariel Sharon, Kadima has endured some of the worst political leadership this side of…well, Ehud Barak’s Labor Party (now led by Shelly Yachimovich). The most benign leade in retrospect was Ehud Olmert who, while inert, at least made a semblance of political leadership as prime minister, till both his martial missteps and larcenous impulses toppled him. Then came Tzipi Livni, who actually led Kadima to a halfway decent election showing, but hadn’t a clue how to lead a political party. She frittered away her election victory with inertness.
Then came the biggest disaster of all, Shaul Mofaz. He began his tenure bragging that he was planning to lead this summer’s social protest movement, which made him a laughingstock. Then, in a desperate bid to avert electoral oblivion, he sold his already diluted political principles, Esau-like, for a bowl of porridge. He joined the governing coalition for a short 70-day honeymoon. Now, there’s been a divorce and Kadima, which laughingly means “Forward” in Hebrew, is rapidly retreating to the rear and political irrelevance.
Six Kadima MKs, led by convicted perjurer, Tzahi Hanegbi, are breaking away to rejoin Likud, where some of them, including Hanegbi, will be awarded with junior ministerial portfolios in return for their treachery. A few of you may be thinking: how the hell does someone convicted of a crime get to be a minister? Well, this is Israel after all, where politicians may receive the Jewish version of a baptism and be born anew, their sins washed away in the purifying waters of political expediency.
Poor Mofaz. He hardly even got a chance, but seems to have muffed the only two political opportunities presented to him since assuming the helm of Kadima. As for the renegades: he’s castigated them for selling out their principles. Which is hilariously ironic considering that Mofaz has done nothing but sell out what few principles he may have had since becoming party chief. Joining Bibi’s government? Sell-0ut. Mofaz is just as much an opportunist as any current Israeli politician, though not as successful in selling out those principles as the master, Bibi Netanyahu is.
Now Haaretz reports that Haim Ramon, who doesn’t even sit in the Knesset, is attempting to spearhead a liberal Kadima breakaway faction under the lead of Tzipi Livni. This group would appear headed eventually to Labor, where Ramon once sat. Though an independent faction might be a first stop before rejoining Labor. If this happens, it would be a miraculous rebirth since the disastrous leadership of Ehud Barak, who seems only to have been interested in retaining the defense ministry portfolio, even at the expense of destroying his former party.
I would not look to a rejuvenated Labor to bring much new to the political table since it won’t be a party with any new ideas about resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The only change will be perhaps a re-energized commitment to a social justice agenda.
Tonight’s cartoon is by the inestimable Mysh. Entitled Entertaining the Masses 2012, it features burning Israelis watching a political version of an Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator movie. Bibi points his sawed off shotgun (looking more like a cap pistol) at Mofaz saying:”Hasta la vista, baby.”. Mofaz’s image is either already cracking or else the lines on his body are meant to be the boundaries of the Middle Eastern states surrounding Israel–a possible reference to the dangers in the offing from states like Syria and Iran.
The burning Israelis refer to the protest suicide by Moshe Silman (now a second such victim has tried to emulate him) and the social crisis afflicting Israel’s underclass, championed by the J14 movement. In other words, Bibi and Mofaz fiddle while Rome and Israel’s Moshe Silmans burn.