Analysis: The bigger they are, the softer they fall (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 07/18/12)
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Since George Berkeley in 1710, philosophers have pondered whether a
tree makes a sound when it falls in a forest in the middle of the
night and no one is there to see it.
And now modern day philosophers and political analysts can debate
whether a sound was made when the largest Knesset faction entered the
government in the middle of the night and left 71 days later.
At least the tree made an imprint. Some branches inevitably fell
down. It might even have injured an unperceptive animal.
Kadima entered Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government at 2
a.m. on May 8, and when its 28 MKs left on Tuesday, the party’s
leaders readily admitted that they had departed without making any
impact whatsoever on Israel’s future.
The coalition had 66 MKs before, and it has 66 MKs again. The
government was dealing with tough issues then, and those issues have
not gone away.
What has gone away is the September 4 general election that would
have been initiated early on May 8, had Kadima not joined the
coalition. Now that election will be held some time in 2013,
depending on Netanyahu’s ability to pass a new state budget.
It is possible that some of the Likud’s voters have also gone away.
Netanyahu might have upset them by not making more compromises that
would have enabled drafting more haredi yeshiva students to military
or national service.
But how many of those voters will put equalizing the burden of IDF
service at the top of the list of their priorities if the election is
held in the spring of 2013? Between now and then, Iran could be
attacked, or its nuclearization could be averted through non-military
The Palestinians could have a new leader. The US could have a new
leader. A lot will inevitably change.
What is unlikely to change is Kadima’s political floundering.
A Smith Research/Jerusalem Post poll published Friday found that
under its current leader Shaul Mofaz, the party would win only eight
seats, down from its current 28. Just three percent of Israelis said
Mofaz was the most fit candidate for prime minister.
The poll predicted that if former prime minister Ehud Olmert is
cleared of charges of accepting bribes in the Holyland trial, and if
the trial takes place before the election, and if Kadima holds a
leadership race, and if Olmert’s wife lets him run, and if he wins,
and if he maintains the public support he received last Wednesday,
the day after his exoneration, Kadima could win 17 seats. But those
sure are a lot of ifs.
The poll revealed that if Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid agreed to run
together with Olmert, the new mega-centrist party would win 30 seats,
three more than the Likud. But even then the center-Right would
maintain a majority to block the new party from forming the next
government. Lapid said following the verdict that he would not
consider running together with Olmert.
Perhaps had Mofaz remained in the government and affected real
change, his party’s political fortunes could have turned around.
Instead, he will go to the opposition, and the most likely scenario
is that the reward for Mofaz standing on his principles will be more
votes going to Lapid’s party-in-the-making and not to Kadima.
Kadima left the government over issues that may seem very important
now, but in retrospect those issues could be seen as mere trees in a
proverbial forest that they could not see.
They quit the coalition without making a sound, proving the
philosophers right. And they also proved that sometimes when it comes
to Israeli political parties, the bigger they are, the softer they
fall. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/18/12)
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