While the world watches events in Egypt with fear and trepidation, a recent event in Israel should not pass without comment. Dry Boness has a typically wry cartoon about the defection of present Israeli Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak from the Labor Party. But for once I think that our friend Yaakov Kirschen has missed the main point. By choosing to remain in Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government over remaining in the Labor Party, Barak effectively euthanized the political party of Israel's founding, the Labor Party of David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Yitchak Rabin, which now has just eight seats in the 120-member Knesset.
As Sara Honig notes in her column in the Jerusalem Post, the Labor Party died of terminal leftist elitism and internationalism. Ms. Honig writes that while still espousing democratic socialism:
"Labor paradoxically became the party of big business, of millionaires and billionaires and their emulators who aspire to sidestep pesky Jewish travails and struggles, live high on the hog and pretend that they are in Davos all year around. Belittled plebians are uncannily insightful. They see right through the hypocrisy."
My, does that sound like any American political party, say, the party of the Clintons, Barack Obama, Ben Bernanke, George Soros and Renaissance Weekends at Hilton Head?
In addition to economic and social elitism, the other primary cause of Labor's demise was its abandonment of Jewish identity and the Zionist vision, in favor of insipid internationalism. Unfortunately for Labor, Ms. Honig observes, "The proletariat Laborites profess to represent is patriotic and retains commonsense self-preservation techniques." Again the parallel to the Democratic Party, especially in the immediate wake of 9/11, is uncanny.
But in the case of Labor, the abandonment of Jewish idenity and Zionism was especially suicidal because Labor thereby abandoned its soul and its heritage. Ms. Honig describes how in the 1930s and 1940s, when it became clear that the price for Israeli statehood would be the partition of Palestine, David Ben Gurion, even while accepting territorial compromise, eloquently declared that the rights of the Jewish people to all of the Land of Israel were eternal and inalienable. That was the greatness of the Israeli Labor Party then, which will be remembered long after the current remnant of Labor disappears into politicial and historic irrelevancy.