Mr. Herzog: Israel needs a fighting opposition

Times of Israel editor David Horovitz wrote earlier todayThe 61-strong coalition Netanyahu finalized 90 minutes before his time ran out on Wednesday night can be called many things. Narrow, fragile, and right-wing-Orthodox come readily to mind. “Stable” and “broad-based” certainly do not.’

We can already begin the countdown to Israel’s next election cycle. Mr. Herzog, it is time to act as a fighting opposition, and to show the Israeli public that there is an alternative. I may not be a political strategist but allow me to offer five pieces of advice:

1. Forget about joining the coalition. Benjamin Netanyahu, in his 9 years as Prime Minister, has made clear what his values and priorities are. You, and your voters, do not share them. Announce now, and publicly, what policy conditions would have to be in place for you to join a Netanyahu led coalition. Put the ball in Netanyahu’s court. He will not be able / will not be willing to meet them. And that’s OK. You and all of us can now move on.

2. Make yourself the indisputable leader of Labor and of the opposition. I have huge respect for Tzipi Livni and think she has been unfairly demonized by her opponents, but the fact remains that strategist Reuven Adler was right and she has become an albatross around your neck.

3. I still remember the Netanyahu of the 90s, when he fought tooth and nail against the Rabin/Peres government. You must do the same – you are the opposition, and nothing less than the Prime Minister’s position will do. Sure, when the PM and the coalition do the right thing for Israel you will support it, but you and I both know that there will be more than enough to criticize and oppose. It should not be too difficult to offer an alternative vision for Israel.

4. Speaking of an alternative vision, most middle of the road Israelis do not favor ultra-Orthodox control of the Rabbinate, the abrogation of core studies requirements, the support of a population that chooses not to work out of choice, the fight to weaken the power and influence of the Supreme Court, the tolerance shown to discriminatory practices against minority communities, and the continued support for far flung settlements in the heart of the West Bank at the expense of the Galilee and the South.

Speak to those middle of the road Israelis. Don’t just fight Yesh Atid and Meretz to get additional votes. Enlarge the pie – let’s get Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and Kulanu voters to support you. In 2006 Kadima + Labor received 38% of all votes in Beersheva, whereas in 2015 Zionist Union+Yesh Atid received 21%. In 2006 Sderot gave 35% to Kadima+Labor whereas in 2015 Zionist Union + Yesh Atid received only 10%. In 2006 Ashkelon gave 31% to Kadima+Labor whereas in 2015 only 17% went to Zionist Union+Yesh Atid. You need to reach those voters who once supported centrist/leftist parties but have since left.

5. This coalition of 61 MKs won’t last long. Act as if we are now at the start of the next election cycle. Make sure your branches in the north and the south are active. Start talking and listening to people. Do your best to shed the image of an elitist Ashkenazi party. Start campaigning.

Mr. Herzog, against all odds in this past election cycle. you managed to revitalize the Labor party and show that Netanyahu’s continued rule was not inevitable. I believe you can become Prime Minister one day and take Israel on a different path. Please get to work.

About the Author
Chaim Landau is Director of Partnerships for Metiv | The Israel Psychotrauma Center. He lives in Jerusalem.