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Strong Right Wing Opposition versus Bloated Cabinet

By Batya Medad
9/20/2012, 10:09 AM

As regular readers of mine know very well, my opinions are my own and not always very conventional. You can read more on me-ander and Shiloh Musinings.  And I'll also take this as an opportunity to wish all of you a good, healthy and successful New Year.

Israeli Politics Primer, Cabinet Post versus Leadership and Ideology

I look at politics differently from most, especially Israeli politics.  There's more than simple Right vs Left separating Israeli political parties. Generally Israelis choose their parties to vote for according to a few simple criterion, the youth movements they were members of as kids.  That's why the National Religious Party had a campaign slogan a few elections ago saying:

"Come home."

They wanted former Bnai Akiva members to vote nostalgia aka NRP or Jewish Home.

Labor Party also has campaigned on nostalgia hoping the children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of former loyalists will vote for them.

Other parties campaign for or against religion, the chareidi and extreme Left parties. Kadima has even pledged to offer a "supermarket" of ideologies.

Recently, in order to renew the Old National Religious Party aka NRP aka Jewish Home, they've opened themselves up and have an active campaign primaries with all sorts of media and internet savvy wannabes.  One of the most surprising is a secular Rightist, Ayelet Shaked.  I've read a few interviews with her and at first was very confused.  In terms of ideology, she seems more suited to the Ichud Le'umi, National Union, but then I noticed that she dreams of a cabinet portfolio.

AS: I think I’d like to be either Education Minister or Foreign Minister since both education and hasbara are close to my heart. 

That's the criteria most people ignore.  Does the political party aim to be in the cabinet at any ideological cost or do they want to be the magnet pulling the Prime Minister to what they think Israel should be?

Ever since Menachem Begin's Likud put together the ruling coalition in 1977, there hasn't been a strong Right opposition.  The NRP is not a truly Right party; it's a coalition partner, willing to ignore and compromise in order to hold onto its portfolio and perks.  The Likud is a Center party supported by Right voters.

The Left has a very strong opposition.  That's how it keeps pulling the Likud leftward.  We need a very strong Right opposition in Israel.  That's why, although I know it's far from perfect, I will continue to support the National Union.  I wish that some of those charismatic NRP wannabes could understand that if they really want to make a difference in Israel they should try to strengthen the National Union instead of getting mired in the NRP.

Remember that cabinet posts come with lots of strings.  Wily politicians like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu don't offer anything without those well-tied strings.  If a minister tries to step out of line, he or she finds them like a noose on the neck. 

If an Israeli wants to lead on the political scene, he or she is best best off staying in the opposition until powerful enough to be Prime Minister.