Wednesday, January 19, 2011
A Demonstration for Democracy and Ehud Barak's Secret Operation
The demonstration last Saturday night to save Israeli democracy from the latest moves in the Knesset to investigate leftist organizations and from the likes of anti-democratic leaders such as Avigidor Liebermann was a huge success. During the last few years, I have participated in quite a few mass demonstrations (the Gaza War, the second Lebanon war, among others) and what made this one different than those was the sheer number of participants. Where the days of 50,000 plus people coming out to demonstrate have long gone perhaps, this one succeeded in bringing about 15-20,000 people, from a multitude of left political parties, with Jews and Palestinians (Israeli citizens) marching together waving Israeli and Palestinian flags, shouting in unison “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” It was a true sign of force and it should be a sign to Prime Minister Netanyahu that even if the left has been weakened in the parliament one cannot simply ignore them.
"It is still possible to save Democracy"
I guess what united everyone was the sheer disgust over the fact that the Labor party still remained a part of the government giving credibility to Netanyahu's far right governement and to Liebermann's racist policies(if we only knew what was going to happen the next morning). Speaker after speaker challenged and publicly humiliated the once strong but now quite weak Labor party leader Ehud Barak. A nice welcome to the demonstration was Meir Shetrit of Kadima, who as a moderate right wing politician showed the level of frustration by right wing politicians who are not fooled by the new Liebermann legislation and who also see that Israeli democracy is in danger (see previous blog entry).
Well, even if this move was not the catalyst for the political earthquake which Israel would experience the next morning, it certainly provided a nice introduction to the mornings’ news. Ehud Barak,along with four of his party members defected from their own party and set up a new party, Atzmaut (Independence). This move led to the immediate resignation of the Labor ministers, who now are left with only 8 seats in the Knesset, and an even more internally divided party. Of course, this plan by Ehud Barak was masterminded along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was thrilled that his internal opposition has now dissipated away into the back seats of the Knesset. In record time, a coalition agreement was signed allowing Ehud Barak to remain as Minister of Defense and giving 4 more portfolios to his unimportant Atzmaut posse.
Sadly, the outcome is clear: with Labor no longer a power broker, Avigdor Liebermann’s Israel Beitunu party is now stronger than ever and Ehud Barak has shown his true colors for the umpteenth time. He not only betrayed his party but also the Israeli electorate who voted for him. Yes, not much to say other than this was Israeli politics at its best; meaning its worst.