Amir Peretz : Israel's Next Prime Minister ?
“Tonight was a night of dreams — dreams of many citizens who have almost given up hope for being part of Israeli society.” –Amir Peretz on the eve of his election
Like some of the rest of you perhaps, I’ve been reading a lot about Amir Peretz lately. There are a lot of people talking about what his election to the head of the Labor party means for the future of Israel and so I’ve assembled a random sampling:
At Ynet news, Aviad Kleinberg characterized Peretz’s opposition as thinking Peretz is “the shvartze from Sderot“, but calculates that he is less embarassing than his critics in an essay entitled “Give him a chance”
Rogel Alpher wrote in Ha’aretz about a seemingly superficial topic – Amir Peretz’ Mustache
The right-wingnuts at the JTF are also extremely fixated on Peretz’ hair, writing “Peretz is a hopelessly evil Marxist traitor who has always intentionally worn the same mustache and the same hairdo as his hero, the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.” [ Note: As a reply to the JTF I attach the above photo to prove that in fact, Peretz used to rock a Gabe Kaplan-esque funky Jewfro quite unlike any style ever worn by Stalin. ] Taking a step back to get some perspective – Avirama Golan wrote an article in Ha’aretz called “Countdown to a new political turnabout” A quote: – “Circumstances are now similar to those that faced Israeli society in 1975, when sociology shifted. The political expression of that shift took place only two years later,” says Professor Daniel Gutwein, an expert in the field of social history at the University of Haifa.
In the Jeruslem Post, Caroline Glick goes basically apeshit and (with a dubious basis to make such a claim) predicts that “If Peretz becomes prime minister, there can be little doubt that he would take measures to effectively put an end to Israel as a Zionist state. ”
At Media Monitors, Uri Avnery isn’t making any promises, but notes that “In Hebrew, Peretz happens to [mean] ‘breakthrough'”
Finally, the unfortunately named Attila Somfalvi reported in Ynet News: With an awareness that perhaps his achilles heel is his relationship with Israel’s Russian-speaking community – Peretz is reportedly “taking intensive Russian classes, hoping to address immigrants from the former Soviet Union in their native language in the run-up to the general election”
One of the saddest things about the Israeli left and center left has been the historical absence of Eastern Jews from its ranks. This has resulted in Eastern Jews voting disproportionately for right wing, and special interest parties and bitterly hardened identity politics. I suspect that if nothing else, this signals a change on that front, and I hope it represents a lot more.