The last week has seen the complete redrawing of the Israeli political map. Amir Peretz, a Moroccan Jew, beat Shimon Peres to gain the chairmanship of the Labor Party. Peretz then pulled his party from the ruling coalition forcing an election. Ariel Sharon then stole Peretz’s thunder by quitting Likud and forming his own centrist Party, Kadimah, taking over a dozen Likud MKs with him. Some called it a mistake, but the polls show Sharon is currently in the lead with Likud relegated to a mere 12 seats. Peretz for his part followed up with what looks like an attempt to completely eviscerate the Labor party. After promising his rival for the chairmanship Shimon Peres the number 2 spot on the Labor list, he renegged and instead offered him the symbolic 120th spot, thus ending Peres’s Knesset tenure that stretched back to 1959. Peretz has also effectively pushed Peres into the waiting arms of Sharon who has promised Peres a return to his cabinet post of vice premier with additional responsibility over negotiations with the Palestinians and the peace process. Peres has yet to make any final decisions, but really, what would you do?
Peres’s choices may be further narrowed in light of recent comments made by his brother Gigi Peres who, over the weekend stated that “Moroccan-born Labor Chairman Amir Peretz was a “foreign body” in Labor, who along with his people “from North Africa” had taken over the party the way dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco had taken over Spain in the 1930s.” Now, I’ll admit that Peretz is a little brusque and his presence is a tad shocking to the otherwise patrician leadership of the Labor party, but likening him to a fascist is just, you know, undignified. But as much as I enjoy watching Peretz rampage through the Labor party like Rodney Dangerfield in a tony country club, I can’t help thinking he’s making a bad mistake. Whatever… whether run by snobby ashkenazim or Marxist-leaning Moroccans, I never liked Labor anyway. What I do like is an exciting race where the final outcome is not a foregone conclusion (Hello USA! Hello Canada!).
Peretz is not a force to be taken lightly, Sharon’s lead might evaporate in the months leading to the elections and Likud… well, I’m pretty sure Likud’s screwed. But whatever happens, I know I’ll be entertained, and really? When the future of a small nation is at stake, what’s more important than a little entertainment?