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Labor Lemmings?

15 January 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

One would think the Labor party would do their best to win the upcoming elections, but logic does not seem to be one of their strong points.  Having sunk to twenty seats according to a recent poll the party seems not only to be incapable of capitalizing on the Likud scandals but Amram Mitzna and Co are not even able to get a campaign off the ground.  When the Likud scandals broke they were worth 22 seats but have managed to lose 10% over the past five weeks, seriously amazing. 

Mitzna managed to put both feet in his mouth, one to break with electioneering logic and the other in breaking with the large center of the Israeli public.  He announced that under no circumstances will he be willing to sit in a national unity government with PM Ariel Sharon and the Likud, and just to make sure no one misunderstood him he has continued to repeat the statement. 

One could expect Mitzna to declare he would consider an NUG “provided the basic tenants of the Labor platform are respected” or “we will consider all our options when the time comes” or “the possibilities for such an arrangement do not look good but Labor rules out nothing at the moment” or just say nothing at all.  But illogic prevails and the party is in disarray and losing support quickly. 

It is not sure who they represent.  Old time supporters are still with them as are many kibbutz and moshav members but the Histadrut labor union sides with Amir Peretz and his One People party, human rights and civil liberties are the platform of Meretz and security is seen as linked more to the Likud.  True Labor speaks of fence separating Israel from the Palestinians, but then so do most reasonable politicians today.  So that leaves the middle class but they are moving over to Shinui.

Strange as it may appear, Mitzna has decided not to battle for the center.  Labor is going to war over what remains of the Zionist Left and will split those 30 or so seats with Meretz.  When it is all over Sharon will invite a weakened Labor party to join his government and apparently Mitzna will refuse.  Labor could self - destruct with the party splitting between those who will join the government and those who will not.  The nay sayers could end up linking their fates to Meretz.  Should such a series of events take place the historic Labor party may disappear from the scene of Israeli political history. 

Only lemmings could commit a more blatant suicide.