Goodbye Gabbai—How the Israeli Left was Lost

As predicted yesterday, in my piece on the Israeli elections (one didn’t need to be a prophet to see this coming!), Labor leader Avi Gabai is already wearing a blindfold, has eaten his last meal, and is now smoking a cigarette—as the guns are being loaded. Yes, his friends are calling for his execution.

The historic left-wing party, that led the nation until Menachem Begin became Prime Minister in the late 70s, is on the verge of extinction. Why? There are two reasons. But, first, you have to understand: in Israel, left and right is all about security and peace. In the US, you can list two dozen differences between the left and right, but here, it is pretty much about where we prioritize peace vs. security in how we deal with Palestinians. There is also the issue of migrants, refugees and the cost of cottage cheese. But, mostly, it is security.

How the left got lost

  1. There is no longer an Israeli left wing. Out of 120 seats, only 11 have gone to left-wing parties. This is due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Israelis have no faith that there is any hope of peace with Palestinians, even though the politically far-left does. Since we left Gaza in 2005, Hamas has been in power. They have no desire for peace. They have launched more than 100,000 rockets at Israel. Abbas has never seen a peace plan that was preferable to blowing up innocent Jewish people, and then naming city streets and squares after their murderers.

  2. The other reason is that the labor party, the historic home for unions and socialists, can never stick with a leader for more than a couple of years. Since Rabin, they have had an astounding 11 leaders!

  1. Shimon Peres 1995–1997

  2. Ehud Barak 1997–2001

  3. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer 2001–2002

  4. Amram Mitzna 2002–2003

  5. Shimon Peres 2003–2005

  6. Amir Peretz 2005–2007

  7. Ehud Barak 2007–2011

  8. Michael Harish 2011 (acting)

  9. Shelly Yachimovich 2011–2013

  10. Isaac Herzog 2013–2017

  11. Avi Gabbay 2017–present