The Inevitable failure of the Zionist Union

Why, after all, should any voter elect a poor imitation when the real thing is available?

Daniel Pinner,

OpEds Daniel Pinner
Daniel Pinner
INN:DP

Ever since the current election campaign began, the opinion polls have generally shown the Likud and the Zionist Camp as receiving approximately equal votes in the forthcoming March 17 elections.
 
The Zionist Camp is the curiously-chosen name for the marriage-of-convenience merger of the Labour Party headed by Yitzchak Herzog, and Hatnua headed by Tzipi Livni.
 
Indeed, the name “Hatnua” is singularly revealing. Political parties have names which encapsulate their ostensible ideologies: “Labour”, ostensibly representing the workers; “Yesh Atid” (“There is a Future”), representing the delusional fantasy that Yair Lapid’s economic policies will bring a better future; “Bayit Yehudi” (“Jewish Home”), suggesting a nationalist-religious ideology; and so on.
 
These are the ideologies which the various parties claim to represent (before the elections, at least).
 
Tzipi Livni is proudly non-ideological. Hence the name of her party, “Hatnua”, simply “The Party”: a vapid plastic corporate non-entity, devoid of any ideology except for Tzipi Livni’s personal lust for power. “The Party” – simply power for the sake of power.
 
Hence the name “The Zionist Union”. Labour used to call itself “the peace camp”, until even the most diehard Rabinist fundamentalists grasped that their murderous policies had made Israelis recoil from the very word “peace”: “peace” had simply become a code-word for ceaseless terrorism.
 
And having desecrated the beautiful and sublime concept of peace, those same leftists are now set on doing the same to the concept of Zionism. Just as “peace”, in the hands of the Left, became a code-word for terrorism, so “Zionism” is due to become a code-word for anti-Zionism.
 
But the self-styled “Zionist Camp” is doomed to fail. They are repeating the same mistake that led Shimon Peres and the Labour Party to defeat in the 1996 elections, the same mistake that led Binyamin Netanyahu and the Likud to defeat in the 1999 elections.
 
Ever since Labour, under Yitzchak Rabin, launched the Oslo death process in 1992 and terrorism shot up to its highest peak since the 1930s (and arguably the most vicious anti-Jewish violence in Israel since the Crusades), the Labour Party lost what little credibility it had.
 
That little credibility depended almost entirely on Rabin personally. He still had the mythical aura of the Chief of Staff who won the Six Day War (even though his greatest contribution to Israeli victory in 1967 was his mental breakdown a week and a half before the war which neutralised him and kept him out of action until the war was all but over).
 
The Israeli media peddled the delusion of Rabin as “Mr Security” – a deadly fiction, but one that won him the election in 1992.
 
Once Rabin was assassinated in November 1995, Labour was left with Peres at its head – Peres the perennial loser, the man who lost every election he ever stood for, the man who couldn’t even win an unopposed election as Honorary President of the Labour Party in 2001.
 
In April 1996, in response to Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon, Prime Minister Peres launched Operation Grapes of Wrath. It was designed to show the Israeli electorate that he could be tough on terrorism, that he could be trusted to defend the country.
 
The result was that in the election the following month, he succeeded in alienating the anti-Zionist extreme Left and the Arabs – his natural electoral base. And he failed to win over the pro-Israel voters: 17 days of bombarding Lebanon was nowhere near enough to counter decades of appeasing terrorists.
 
Peres was desperate to show that he could be just as tough on terrorism as Netanyahu – but his pathetic attempt failed miserably. Why, after all, should any voter elect a poor imitation when the real thing was available?
 
So Peres and Labour lost the 1996 election, and Netanyahu and the Likud won.
 
And over the next three years, Netanyahu made the identical mistake. He continued with the Oslo death process, publicly embraced the terrorist chieftain Yasser Arafat, gave away Hevron to the PLO, signed the Wye River Memorandum which resumed the implementation of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the "West Bank" and Gaza (Oslo II Accord) and stipulated “final status” negotiations for Jerusalem, allowed the PLO to operate freely in Jerusalem and use Orient House as their official headquarters, and generally did all he could to prove that he could be just as far left as the Left.
 
The result was that in the 1999 election, he succeeded in alienating the Zionist right and the national-religious sectors – his natural electoral base. And he failed to win over the Left – neither the moderate Zionist Left (as much as still existed) nor the radical anti-Zionist extreme Left.
 
He was desperate to show that he could be just as conciliatory to the terrorists as Ehud Barak and Labour – but his pathetic attempt failed miserably. Why, after all, should any voter elect a poor imitation when the real thing was available?
 
So Netanyahu and the Likud lost the 1999 election, and Barak and Labour won.
 
And now, the “Zionist Union” is repeating the identical mistake. By choosing this name for themselves, they inevitably lose a large part of their natural support-base – the radical anti-Zionist Left and the more moderate Arab voters. This is why the Joint Arab list has rejected any cooperation with the “Zionist Union” (see for example /News/News.aspx/192269#.VPwKKI5Cm-2).
 
But they are not succeeding in gaining pro-Zionist voters. Why, after all, should any voter elect a poor imitation of Zionism when there are genuine Zionist parties available?

 




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