During dinner one evening at the recent Herzlyia Conference I sat next to a well-fed local businessman, a man of middle-age with an expensive black suit and shiny black hair. We were there to hear Benjamin Netanyahu, so we got to talking politics. Are you going to vote for him?” I asked. He shook his head no. “I’m going to vote for Kadima,” he said, painting a straight line in the air with his finger. “Right down the middle.”
“In what way,” I asked him in surprise, “is Kadima in the middle?”
He looked at me blankly, astonished at the question.
Israelis love slogans. Come up with the right slogan, even if it makes no sense, if it’s a total lie, and they will support anyone, and any cause. Sell them “Peace Now” wrapped up in little white doves, and they’ll vote for that. And if instead they get exploding buses and pizza parlors, dead babies on the streets, they won’t stop believing. They won’t look back and say: “Gee, those politicians were incompetent liars, let’s kick them out of office and keep them there. “ Not at all. Come up with another slogan and the exact same politicians will get their vote again.
Take Shimon Peres, architect of Oslo. author of the “The New Middle East” which has to go down in history with “Peace in Our Time” as the political blooper of the century. Peres has a new slogan: Kadima! Peres is now “in the center.”
Kadima is a great slogan. It’s the cry of a general leading men on a battlefield. Follow me, don’t look around at the fallen and dying all around you! Keep going. Don’t look back! Never mind that it was founded by a controversial general known for his impulsiveness and determination – qualities sometimes helpful on the battlefield, but quite disastrous matters of state. Never mind that his greatest accomplishment in office, carried out with bulldozer determination, has in record time already proven an unmitigated disaster: The disengagement was the Hamas’ successful campaign slogan:” Ten years of negotiation, five years of Intifada.” Never mind that daily rockets now land in the Negev and Ashkelon and Ashdod and Sderot. Never mind that for the first time in our history the national consensus towards Tzahal has begun to unravel. Never mind that. Kadima!
So the head of the party and its moving force is now incompacitated? Replace him! Never mind that Ehud Olmert was the worst Mayor Jerusalem ever had. A man whose coalition with the haredim turned the city into a filthy, poor backwater full of ugly high-rises. In between his own police investigations, Mr. Olmert has had a chance to totally change his political slogans with the times. He is a man who stands for nothing and has accomplished even less. But never mind that. Kadima!
Never mind that the Party has collected such Israeli political luminaries as Dalia Itzik, Haim Ramon, Ruhama Avraham, and Omri Sharon. Never mind that Tzachi Hanegbi now sits with them, and that Avi Dichter, a former head of intelligence, who said: “The numbers speak for themselves. . . it is clear that disengagement has decreased terror” is number five on their list. Never mind. Give them your vote. Kadima!
The Jews, the Bible tells us, are a stiff-necked people. As everyone knows, when you have a stiff-neck, you can’t turn around and look behind you. You have to face forward. Those voting Kadima can only do it if they stick with the slogans and don’t check them against reality. If you turn around and look at where the party came from and who is in it, you, like my friend in Herzylia, would be astonished. Why, you would ask yourself, would anyone vote for the biggest collection of losers in Israel’s political history all gathered in one spot?
Brothers and sisters, we have a very little country. We have made so many, many mistakes. Isn’t it time we stopped electing leaders who blindly put our women and children on the front lines against our enemies? Isn’t it time we stopped listening to our not very intelligent journalists and TV news people, clueless leftists all? Isn’t it time to look back before we jump over the cliff once more? Kadima is in the middle all right. In the middle of nowhere.