Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
How America Treats Its Allies?
Despite the fact that its policies are hugely unpopular, two factors have enabled Labor to continue to present itself as a mainstream ruling party.
The first factor has been the media. As has been their practice since the birth of modern Israel, since the demise of the peace process, the media have helped the likes of Labor by demonizing the Right, and rightist politicians and particularly Likud. Working hand in glove with leftist politicians, the media have implemented the politics of personal destruction against right wing leaders.
By demonizing the likes of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, they have rendered the social cost of supporting Likud and the Right is too high for many Israelis to bear.
At the same time, the media have colluded with the Left to present Leftist leaders as earthy, heroic, sophisticated and responsible statesmen. By keeping the content of their policies firmly out of the discussion and framing the debate instead around personal attacks and symbols, the media have successfully kept rightist leaders on the defensive and shielded leftist politicians from substantive attacks on their radical policies.
The second reason that Labor was able to retain its mantle as a ruling party is that it has enjoyed the energetic support of the State Department and European governments which both support its radical policies.
Until the formation of the Netanyahu government two years ago, Labor was the State Department's favorite political party. Labor leaders from Shimon Peres down were the objects of constant attention and praise. Labor's leaders in turn were happy to help the Americans and Europeans hide their basic hostility towards Israel by claiming that their anti-Israel policies were actually pro-Israel policies.
So it was that in 2003 Labor leaders actively colluded with the State Department in drafting the so-called Roadmap plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace despite then prime minister Ariel Sharon's opposition to the plan.
Labor's importance took a hit with the formation of Kadima in late 2005. Comprised of newly minted leftists from Likud led by Sharon and veteran leftists from Labor like Peres, Kadima inherited Labor's mantle as the Left's new ruling party. Labor was able to retain its relevance to the US by joining Olmert's coalition and advocating even more radical policies than those advocated by Olmert and Livni.
But then Likud and the Right won the 2009 elections. Kadima, led by Livni, went into the opposition and Labor, under Barak joined the coalition. As head of the opposition, Livni has become ever more vocal in advocating the policies of the radical Left and the Obama administration. Livni has placed the blame for the absence of the peace process and for the Obama administration's sour relations with Israel squarely and entirely on Netanyahu's shoulders.
For his part, Barak has been stuck in an untenable situation. To justify his partnership with Netanyahu, he worked closely with the Obama administration and actively lobbied Netanyahu to adopt the US's favored positions. The Obama administration rewarded him by regularly hosting him in Washington and openly extolling him as its chosen "Israeli foreign minister."
But given both his own party's radicalism and the Obama administration's hostility towards Netanyahu, Barak was never able to fully satisfy either his party or the Americans. He was never able to move to the Left of Livni.
According to Haaretz and to Labor leaders who opposed Barak, the end of the line for Barak came in late December with Haaretz's publication of a report claiming that the Obama administration had soured on Barak due to his failure to convince Netanyahu to extend the Jewish construction ban in Judea and Samaria for an additional 90 days. Livni, Haaretzreported, had replaced Barak as the Obama administration's favorite Israeli politician.
Since the article was published, Barak could no longer maintain the contradiction between Labor's radical policies and its protestations to ruling party status. Without American support, there was no way to keep Labor together.
This is why, when he announced his break with Labor on Monday morning, Barak explained that Labor had become a radical party that was home to post-Zionists who believe that Israel alone is to blame for the absence of peace. The post-Zionists rejected him when he lost his international support. So he had nowhere to go but into Netanyahu's waiting Zionist arms.
This is also why Livni and Kadima have so harshly attacked Barak. In an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, Livni - whose political career owes entirely to her decision to betray Likud voters - called Barak's split from Labor "the dirtiest act," in history. More importantly, the woman who claims that Netanyahu is solely to blame for the absence of peace with the Palestinians and that he is wrong not to bow to every US demand protested,"For Barak to call whoever wants peace post-Zionist is unheard of."
This brings us back to the FBI's anti-Israel witch hunt and Rice's spy cable. Barak lost his ability to serve as the puppet of the anti-Israel wing of the US government because he was unable to both serve under Netanyahu and overthrow him. By pressuring Barak to do the impossible, the anti-Israel officials in the US government inadvertently caused the demise of the Labor Party.
However, with Kadima under Livni, these officials can take heart. Their support for Livni makes her powerful. Owing to their support, Livni is able to maintain her control over the largest party in the Knesset.
And as long as Livni remains both powerful and loyal to their agenda, those forces in the US government that despise the Jewish state will be able to rest easy. Although the majority of Americans want their government to support Israel, shielded by Kadima, these US government officials will be able to continue to implement policies that treat Israel with the contempt due to a banana republic.
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JWR contributor Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.