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As Perertz Abandons Labor Party, Israeli Political Center Implodes

livni peretz hold hands

Tzipi Livni reels in her biggest catch, Amir Peretz (Alon Ron)

Nothing illustrates the political bankruptcy of the Israeli political center better than this image of Tzipi Livni, founder of the Ha-Tenuah Party holding hands with her freshest catch, Amir Peretz, former Labor defense minister and second highest vote-getter in the recent Labor primary.

The image of a former Mossad agent and ideological descendant of the Stern Gang canoodling with the former head of Israel’s labor movement, the Histadrut, is revolting.

It reminds me of a game of musical chairs in which each politician scurries from one seat to another seeking the biggest payday and best advantage for himself without regard to principle.  At the end of the game, there will be one player left with no chair on which to sit: it will be Israel’s center-left itself.  It will have maneuvered itself into irrelevance, thus leaving the ultrantionalist right in triumph, controlling all the chairs and levers of power.

During this press conference, Livni had the chutzpah to claim (with Peretz sitting beside her) that Labor didn’t invent the social justice movement. That in fact, Jabotinsky had called for social justice in his own political manifesto.

The reason Peretz is offering for abandoning Labor is that its current chair, Shelly Yachimovich is refusing to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian issue during the campaign; and she’s refused to rule out joining a coalition government with Likud.

That’s all well and good.  But does Peretz really think that joining with Tzipi Livni will bring Israel any closer to a peace deal with the Palestinians?  What did she and Olmert ever do that brought the country any closer to peace with the Palestinians?

As Dov Heinin tweeted tonight (and a number of my thoughts here were inspired by his thoughts on this), this development indicates the complete bankruptcy of the Israeli political center. As Yeats said: “It will not hold” against the powerful onslaught of the ultranationalist right.  When even former Kahanist Jeffrey Goldberg and Dov Heinin agree, you know the centrist movement is in deep peril.
In related news, the Jerusalem Post quotes Danny Ayalon’s father calling Avigdor Lieberman, “little Stalin,” for purging his boy from the Yisrael Beitenu list.  If daddy looks closely he’ll see his son actually bears a striking resemblance to Little Stalin, while Lieberman is clearly Big Stalin.  So ends an inglorious political partnership that began when Lieberman ran in the last election and needed a veneer of diplomatic respectability.  That led him into the arms of Ayalon, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.  They made a strange couple.  Though in truth it was hard to tell which one would embarrass himself, the foreign ministry and Israel more on any given day.
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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Bob Mann December 6, 2012, 10:23 AM

    You don’t like Livni?

    Who, then, do you want to see as the next Israeli PM?

    • Richard Silverstein December 6, 2012, 9:40 PM

      Dov Heinin

      • Bob Mann December 7, 2012, 3:46 AM

        I’m not seeing him among the list of candidates.

        The PM candidate in his party (Hadash) is Mohammad Barakeh.

        Would you support him for PM?

  • yankel December 6, 2012, 10:52 AM

    A couple of corrections.

    (a) Livni is by no means an ideological descendant of the Stern Gang. She’s consistently been a Zionist pragmatist practising realpolitik. Though I personally wouldn’t dream of voting for her or her ilk, one has to bear in mind that – from South-Africa to Northern Ireland – this is the type of master-race politicians who bow (and scrape!) to reality to make historical compromises with “convicted terrorists” they had previously trained themselves to hate and despise.

    (b) The Histadrut is Israel’s labour-unions, not to be confused the Labour Party (often self-described as the historical Labour Movement). Peretz has headed both of them, but not concurrently.

    • Deïr Yassin December 6, 2012, 11:53 AM

      Maybe Richard is thinking about the fact that Tzipi Livni’s parents were both well-known members of Irgun.

      • yankel December 6, 2012, 8:52 PM

        Probably. Her dad was Irgun’s chief of operations. What would later become the popular anthem of the veteran terrorists – “Upon Barricades” – had been dedicated by the lyricist, a fallen comrade, to her mum …
        Though the Stern Gang originated from Irgun and they cooperated in atrocities too familiar to you, their post-“liberation” visions differed significantly.

      • Richard Silverstein December 6, 2012, 9:43 PM

        @Deir Yassin Right.

    • Richard Silverstein December 6, 2012, 9:43 PM

      The reference to her Stern Gang roots was from Dov Heinin & he was referring to Livni’s parents who were both “heroes” of the Stern Gang. She started out in politics as a disciple of Sharon & gradually softened her politics (as he did).

      • yankel December 6, 2012, 10:21 PM

        Again: neither of Livni’s parents was in the Stern Gang.

        As for Dov Heinin. He’s a decent mensch and one of Israel’s finest parliamentarians – I’d greatly despise anyone attributing him “Stalinist ideological roots” just because of his parents’ history.

        • Richard Silverstein December 7, 2012, 12:53 AM

          I stand corrected. I thought Dov Heinin could be trusted on the subject. But really, the difference between the two groups was really a matter of degrees. They both engaged in acts of terrorism and assassination.

          • yankel December 7, 2012, 2:47 AM

            I couldn’t agree more.

            The Sternists, though, introduced an element of shear madness into a ruthless yet well reasoned ideology. Their original raison d’etre was siding, in WW2, with the Nazis while Irgun chose to join their erstwhile enemies, the Brits (Irgun’s leader at the time, Raziel, actually died while on a British military intelligence mission).

      • free man December 6, 2012, 11:27 PM

        You are pathetic. Lying about her parents in the first place, then trying to smear her with what you alleged her parents to be.
        Propaganda at its worst.

        • Richard Silverstein December 7, 2012, 12:50 AM

          Take it up with Dov Heinin. I linked to his tweets on the subject. But it’s nice to know that you too are defending Jewish terrorists like the Irgun and Stern Gang. BTW, Stern was a breakaway faction of the Irgun. So for example, how much difference politically is there between one Israeli Kahanist who supports what most of us would call terrorism, and another that doesn’t believe in individual acts of terror, but supports state terror in the form of mass expulsions of Palestinians?

          Regarding propaganda, your problem is that you’ve been fed Revisionism from your mama’s breast and so anything that isn’t ultranationalist propaganda is alien thought to you.

  • Arie Brand December 6, 2012, 2:48 PM

    Sir Gerald Kaufman at 2.42:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGuYjt6CP8

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