Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Could it be that I have underestimated Amir Peretz? Could it be that he deserves more credit than I, together with many Israelis, have given him? His election to the Labor party leadership has directly or indirectly brought about what appear to be very meaningful ( and positive ) changes in Israel's political landscape. Ariel Sharon finally decided to start his own party ( something that had been brewing for a while, but the timing is a direct result of the winds of change in Labor ), the Likud is in disarray as a result of that, Shimon Peres seems to have finished his political career ( at least within the Labor party, and behind Sharon he will be allowed to play second fiddle at the most ), and Labor is witnessing some sort of revival. Yesterday Kadimah already presented a political platform, and it contains some very clear points, making clear once more that in the coming elections Israeli voters probably will be able to choose between real alternatives, something that they were unable to do in most previous elections. A high turnout at the elections would be the best thing that has happened to Israeli democracy in years, and if that happens we will have to thank Mr Sharon and Mr Peretz for that.
Within the framework of "good riddance", people like Haim Ramon and Daliah Itzik ( and possibly, with all due respect - and there is a lot of respect -, Shimon Peres ) have left Labor to join Kadimah, and new and highly promising, often quite young, faces are joining Peretz' party. Avishai Braverman - whom until know I only knew as the president of Ben Gurion University, but who apparently is a very talented and accomplished expert in economic and financial matters - did not accept any tempting offers from Sharon ( who will have a hard time keeping all those who joined Kadimah happy: most of the 'members' of his new party have enormous egos and definitely expect some quid pro quo for their public support ) and joined Labor, as did Shelly Yehimovitch, who as a high profile journalist has always stressed the importance of addressing social issues. The announcement of Shelly Y. joining Labor came a few hours after it became known that Daliah I. joined Kadimah, and some are already asking "Daliah who?". Another new member who could contribute a lot is veteran diplomat Alon Pinkas, former consul of Israel in New York. Of course Labor still has many members of the old guard in its ranks, but whereas apart from a few men and women ( Tsippi Livni, Michael Nudelman, I think ) almost all those who joined Kadimah are political opportunists, it appears that most of the fresh faces in Labor belong to people who ( take considerable career risks not because they believe in polls but because they ) have ideals that are larger than their political ambitions. Who knows, I might be a bit too optimistic now, but at least there is something that triggered that optimism, something that did not happen for a long time.
Hopefully Shimon Peres read the painful but oh so true op-ed that Yaron London wrote. This morning I saw Mr Peres in Barcelone, doing what he knows better than any Israeli: working for our interest from abroad. Sean Connery called him Shimon, as if they are childhood friends. Why is it that such an intelligent man does not understand that the best service that he can do to his country ( and to a cause that he so much believes in ) is to promote peace and co-existence in international fora, meeting with VIPs all over the world. He is one of the living Israelis whom I admire the most, but it is about time for him to understand that he will never get the respect and opportunities here in Israel that he receives abroad. Only when you know your limitations will you be able to realize your full potential, and I am sure that Mr Peres has not realized his yet.

No comments: