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Op-Ed: Israel's Single-Issue Party

Some are dumbfounded that Ariel Sharon and the Likud have just brought the Labor party into the government to form a national unity coalition. Some cannot believe their eyes and ears and noses.
Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2004 11:33 PM


Some are dumbfounded that Ariel Sharon and the Likud have just brought the Labor party into the government to form a national unity coalition. Some cannot believe their eyes and ears and noses. After all, this is the same Labor party that imposed the Oslo Accords upon Israel anti-democratically and then turned the country into the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This is the same Labor party that decided that Israel needs to try to appease its way to peace, needs to reward each and every atrocity committed by the Palestinians with new concessions and goodwill gestures, with the result being 1,600 Oslo-murdered Israelis, and thousands of wounded and maimed, with countless destroyed lives of family members.

But no one should really be surprised by this turn of events. To understand why Sharon would bring Shimon Peres in as his Number Two and replace his other coalition partners with the Labor Party, it is necessary only to understand one thing.

The most fundamental fact of life about Israeli politics is that the Likud is a single-issue party. And that single issue is the re-election of the Labor party. The Likud is a party that is devoted only to one thing and that one thing is the restoration of the Labor party to power.

Seriously.

That is why almost every time the Likud has been elected by voters nauseated at the Labor party, its first priority has been to bring the defeated Labor party back into a national unity coalition. Including this time. The Likud is afraid to govern Israel, even after winning elections by landslides. It seeks only to restore Labor hegemony and is perfectly willing to implement Labor-style socialism until that becomes feasible.

But the evidence of the Likud being this sort of a single-issue party is far broader and comprehensive than what I have indicated. Ever since the first Likud government, under Menachem Begin, took power in 1977, the Likud has implemented policies whose only conceivable explanation is that it is the Likud's main goal to restore the defeated Labor Party to power.

Until 1977, Israel was one of those single-party, near-totalitarian countries more commonly found in the Third World or in Eastern Europe. But the debacle of the Yom Kippur War at long last toppled the Labor party monopoly. Almost from the first day of its reign, Begin's Likud government worked to bring Labor back into power. To do so, it initiated the massive Bank-Shares Pyramid Scheme, one of the largest and most harmful economic scams in human history, and when it collapsed, it cost the country about a quarter of its GDP. At the same time, Begin's people went on a Latin American-style money-printing jihad, without precedence in Israel, and by the mid-1980s the inflation rate was approaching quadruple digits. So, as you can see, Begin was working very hard to discredit the Likud and bring back the Labor party's hegemony.

It was only Yitzhak Shamir who was at last fully successful in restoring Labor party rule. After inviting Labor to re-enter the government ruling coalitions in the 1980s, Shamir displayed such complete incompetence that in 1992 the Labor party was re-elected. Labor did not reciprocate the Likud's generosity, refusing to invite the Likud into its coalition.

By 1996, the Labor party had produced such a disaster with its mindless Oslo initiative that even the enormous upsurge of sympathy for it after the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin could not save it from electoral collapse. Binyamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister - and once again proved that the Likud is a single-issue party. Netanyahu did everything humanly possible to bring the Labor party back into power, and, while he was waiting for his efforts to bear fruit, he implemented Oslo policies that even the Labor Lemmings had not dared to implement, including the Wye capitulation.

Like the fiasco with New Coke and Coke Classic, voters realized that the real Labor party was more genuine than the Likud's impression of being the Me-Too-Other-Labor-Party, and decided it would rather have the real thing. Ehud Barak from Labor beat Netanyahu and came within a facial mole of destroying Israel and turning the Western Wall and the Old City over to the PLO savages. But like with Pharaoh, Israel was rescued with a miracle it probably did not deserve to receive.

Ariel Sharon then creamed Barak and his team in the polls, and then came back and again trounced the Laborites, when they ran for office under the commissarship of Amram Mitzna and his gang of oligarchs (highly reminiscent of those in post-Soviet Russia, by the way). In true Likud manner, Sharon then proved he was a single-issue candidate and that his single issue was the restoring of Labor to power. At first, he did so by adopting as his own pet the mangy stray dog that Amram Mitzna had try to run past the voters as his own election platform: the unilateral capitulation by Israel to the PLO and the eviction of all Jews from the Gaza Strip. But that was only the opening round. Sharon was counting the moments until he could restore Shimon Peres to his proper position as the Likud's Elder Statesman and Sharon's intimate sidekick. Can Defense Minister Yossi Beilin be far behind?

And at last, the inevitable has happened. The Likud may be one of the most successful political parties in human history. It nearly always succeeds in its single-minded pursuit of its single goal.