New Meretz Message: Vote for Us to Strengthen Left

New Meretz Message: Vote for Us to Strengthen Left

Meretz slogan plays on Zionist Camp’s campaign: Tomorrow it’s Them and Him
The Meretz party introduced the next wave of its campaign at a press conference this morning. Zahava Gal-On made it very clear to all those interested in replacing Bibi and the right: a vote for the Zionist Camp is a vote for Bibi, whatever the intention. 

Or, to put in a more catchy, election-time parlance: “it’s either Buji and Bibi or Meretz and Buji”. The only way to keep Bibi from returning to the Prime Minister’s office, she proclaimed, was to strengthen the Meretz party, allowing it to act as a blocking mechanism against any center-left tendency shift to the right. Otherwise, giving into their worst inclinations, Tzipi Livni and Issac Herzog were liable to join and prop up another right-leaning coalition.

Meretz and its constituents are certainly justified in their suspicion of the Zionist Camp’s behavior. It was Tzipi Livni, who, after excoriating Bibi in the 2013 election campaign and his union with Lieberman, was the first to join his coalition as Justice Minister (full disclaimer: I voted for Ms. Livni and still get flak for it–I had my reasons, of course). Nor is the Labor Party innocent of such transgressions. In the 2009 elections it was Ehud Barak of all people who willingly joined Bibi’s coalition after being offered the defense portfolio and coming to the realization that he was unlikely to return to the post of Prime Minister. Barak was, in fact, so adamant about staying out of the black hole that is the opposition that he ended up creating a splinter group, Atzmaut, made up of loyal MKs who did not question Labor’s allegiance to a Bibi-led government. 

Of the center-left politicians willing to join the coalition, Jonathan Freedland wrote disapprovingly, in tones eerily similar to today’s situation:”they are no less attached to ministerial office. It seems they like the salary, car and warm glow that comes with power and saw no reason to trade that for the chill of opposition. They will surely be seen for what they are: mercenaries and hacks who hold no principle that can’t be sacrificed.” 

Perhaps most glaring was then-political novice Yair Lapid’s insistence on ‘sharing the burden’, only to ally himself with extremist-in-sheep’s-clothing Naftali Bennett on their way into the coalition. Lapid, who at time won a whopping 19 mandates, no small feat for a new party and inexperienced politician, chose the safety of the Finance Ministry under Netanyahu, rather than acting as a kingmaker capable of keeping the right from returning to power. Given their past behavior, and their current refusal to rule out joining Bibi’s ranks in case of a Likud victory, who’s to say that we won’t see a repeat of the last two election cycles?

There are those that will argue (myself included) that joining the ranks of a right-leaning coalition will offset any extremists in the government, “diluting” their ability to do damage, so to speak. There is ample proof of this: Livni, for all her faults, was adamant in her role as Justice Minister, about keeping at bay the wave of undemocratic legislation that had become so prevalent in the Knesset over the last few years. Cynicism notwithstanding that such legislation wouldn’t have seen the light of day in any case, it’s hard to see Livni letting any of these laws pass without a struggle. And it’s hardly surprising that Livni and Labor wanted desperately to stay out of the opposition in the past, given their poor showing in elections; this is, after all, one of the major complaints that Meretz supporters have about their own party. 

Nonetheless, the reality still stands that these parties acted as unwitting fig leafs in both the 18th and 19th Knessets, lending their respectability to a policy of complete stagnation regarding the peace process (amongst other misguided policies). Israeli voters would be wise to remember this come election day, lest they expect different results from the same strategy.

By | 2015-02-01T15:03:00-05:00 February 1st, 2015|Blog|0 Comments

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