Dichter is a Strategic Pickup For Netanyahu Now and Long Term
Prime Minister Netanyahu's appointment of Avi Dichter to the post of Home Front Minister has drawn acid comment from our readers. I understand their feeling that Kadima is toxic and fully agree that this party deserves their loathing. As those who have followed me over the years here and in other publications should know, I am far from a blind devotee of Prime Minister Netanyahu. In this case however, I think the move was smart and beneficial.
Kadima is a clinically dead party and the only thing that it is good for is organ transplants. Most of the Kadima Knesset members have dim prospects of returning to the next Knesset, but on both the right and the left there are cherries left to be picked.
Kadima was another edition of a centrist All-Star party --a delusion that dies hard in Israeli politics. It therefore attracted people of various stripes who, as in previous cases, go back home upon the party's demise.
In the last elections, MK Zeev Elkin went over from Kadima to the Likud and was one of the most ideologically sound Knesset members, as well as performing admirably as the majority whip.
Otniel Schneller helped fight a successful rearguard action against withdrawals when Kadima was at its peak. Therefore, there is nothing wrong in picking up a talented individual, particularly if he does not have actions such as the expulsion of the Jewish communities from Gaza on his hands.
Dichter has taken the Home Front post at a critical juncture, when those opposed to Netanyahu are attempting to frame the debate on attacking Iran as one pitting a megalomaniacal Prime Minister against the entire security establishment. By taking a sensitive position that will be in the spotlight of any action against Iran's nuclear program, Dichter weakens that accusation. He is a very respected security professional who headed the Israel Security Agency during the Oslo war (a.k.a. the Second Intifada). His tenure was also in the aftermath of 9/11 and he forged excellent ties with his foreign counterparts.
As a former head of the Israel Security Agency, Dichter possesses an excellent knowledge of Israel's Arab sector. While some readers may regard this as a demerit, one should recall that Moshe Arens was a minister responsible for the Arab sector as well. There are elements within that sector who would like to be loyal citizens of Israel and they deserve encouragement and protection.
Multiparty systems in Western Europe and Israel encourage more migration between parties. Even in the United States, Republicans have become Democrats and vice versa. Arlen Specter and Rick Perry are names that immediately come to mind. So, all in all, picking up Dichter on waivers is an astute move for any political GM.