Another head-scratcher. While seven of Labor’s 13 MKs lobbied vociferously for the Party to join the opposition, Ehud Barak stole their thunder and persuaded a comfortable majority of the central committee to join what was formerly a far-rightist governing coalition. Haaretz jokes that Barak got such a sweet deal from Bibi that he will almost be allocated more ministerial portfolios than he has MKs to fill them. Barak will join the new triumvirate of Bibi & Lieberman (jokingly now referred to as “Biberman”) and the three will hold the most powerful posts in the new government.
The question of the day is what happens to Labor. Will the spurned MKs join the opposition? Will they remain Labor? Since Barak has won the vote it would seem more logical for Laborites against joining the coalition to either form a new party or join the “new” Meretz. If they remain in Labor it should be a very awkward period till things shake out.
At any rate, Labor has become a mere shadow of its former self. The Old Left in Israel is dead. To claim that Barak or Labor now stands for any political or moral principle is a joke. What never ceases to amaze me though is how the Labor party leader can lie through his teeth pretending that he is acting out of consideration for the national good and without a hint of self-interest:
“Whoever wants Labor as a spare tire in the opposition instead of a counterweight to the Right in the government doesn’t know what he is talking about,” Barak said. “I will not be anyone’s fig leaf. I will be a counterweight to make sure there won’t be a right-wing extremist government. I am not here to run after a cabinet seat. Whoever thinks I care only about my personal survival should see that we are doing what is unpopular, because it is right for the public.”
Anyone with eyes in their head can see what his real reasons for joining the coalition are. And his opponents within the Party didn’t mince words:
David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, and Yitzhak Rabin are turning over in their graves,” [Ophir] Paz-Pines shouted emphatically. “They formed this country, and we are privileged to continue their path. We in Labor have an obligation to maintain their honor and our spine. We are expected to maintain Labor’s values and not act like the lowest politician by joining every government.”
Paz-Pines said Netanyahu was building the most right-wing extremist government Israel had ever had and was looking for a fig leaf.
Turning to Barak, he said: “You did not receive a mandate to throw us in the dust bin of history! You have lost your leadership, because leadership is not zigzagging, it’s telling the truth!”
I would’ve predicted that a far right government will last for a year or so given the extremism of its positions and personalities. I’m inclined to think that this government will last even less. There is just too much ideological ferment inside it and too many huge egos. Bibi thinks this will be a stable government because he has found his lefty fig leaf. In some sense Barak does provide the Likud leader cover to stall the peace process. But a fig leaf does not provide any meaningful sustenance to this coalition and I can’t see how it can last.
For some strange reason, an old English folk song is rattling around in my head: “I’ll go no more a rovin’.” Except I’m hearing the words as: “I’ll go no more a-whorin’.” Looks like Barak’s never heard the song. He should take these lyrics to heart:
She placed her hand upon my knee,
Mark well what I do say!
She placed her hand upon my knee,
I said “Young miss, you’re rather free.”
I’ll go no more a roving with you fair maid!
A rovin’, a rovin’,
Since rovin’s been my ru-i-in,
I’ll go no more a roving
With you fair maid!