Thursday, December 04, 2008

Labor's Woes

Gershom Gorenberg predicts the end of Israel's Labor Party:
"The revolution of creating a Jewish state will soon be something outside any living memory. The Labor Party -- for practical purposes the party of the founders -- is also on the verge of being no more than history. Children will struggle before tests to remember what it stood for. Actually, voters today aren't too sure either.

"Polls predict that when Israel holds elections on Feb. 10, Labor may fade to 10 seats in the 120-member Knesset. The real race is between Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's centrist Kadima. There are proximate reasons for Labor's fadeout, including the party's reflexive return to the manifestly unpopular Ehud Barak as leader. The reflex hints at deeper problems: Barak is a kibbutz-born ex-general with no clear political positions, an embodiment of the old Labor aristocracy.

"Seen in a longer perspective, the conundrum of a movement that creates a state is how to reinvent itself afterward as a party that is relevant to the new reality. Labor hasn't succeeded. Arguably, its long, slow, failing struggle to survive has also stood in the way of creating a vibrant Israeli left."

Parties suffer through humiliating defeats all the time, and eventually come back. Likud, the frontrunner in many polls, currently has only 12 seats. If there's a danger for Labor, it comes from the new leftist block the Meretz people are thinking of forming.



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