Feb 19, 2008

My brother

אחי. My Brother.

The term "My brother" is used very frequently around Israel, especially between people who do not know each other's names. It is also used as a term of endearment. It does not matter religious, not religious, right wing, left wing, any other wing. People greet each other saying, "Shalom Achi" and the like. "My brother, can you give me directions to Allenby Street?", "My brother, do you need help with your bags?". It kind of gives a feeling of small town, old country camaraderie.

Effie Eitam and Rav Yitzchak Levi have formed a new political party to run in the next elections for Knesset. They have called the party "Achi" "My brother - for we are all brothers", and it is a play on words, because spelled in Hebrew it is an acronym - אח"י - ארץ, חברה, יהדות - Land, Society and Judaism.

They are looking to unite all the various factions in the right wing under their new umbrella party. Their aim is to draw in the Mafdal (NRP), Ichud Leumi, and some of the smaller parties. I have seen their advertisements a lot recently.

Since Effi Eitam has left the army and joined the political scene in Israel, he has formed and reformed numerous parties. he only joined Israeli politics in 2002 and he has been part of 3 parties already.

I guess he is dynamic, and maybe that is a good thing. But I look at it as he first joined NRP, as its head. Then he left it, with Rav Levi, because of the Disengagement and formed a new party called Mifleget Tzionut Datit Leumit Mitkhadeshet. That went nowhere quickly so he merged it into the Ichud Leumi party and brokered a working relationship between Ichud and NRP. And now he has created Achi, and is trying to get the other parties to merge with his.

While some might say he is dynamic and willing to try new things until he finds the right formula, I see it as lack of stability. he has failed, in his 6 years in Israeli politics, to show dominant leadership. He has led NRP, and left it. he has been of the leaders of Ichud, and has now left it. While he is admired as a leader, and while he is a capable politician standing on his ideals and accomplishing in knesset, he has failed to dominate and show himself as The Leader.

He has also failed to rally those beneath him and others in the right wing spectrum of Israeli politics. Sure, may will join his new party, but that is more likely to be because the other parties have been fairly incapable and useless than because of his own great leadership skills. He is simply another politician. That being the case, I see this as a lack of stability, rather than political dynamism.

I predict this will be another failed project. I even question whether they will succeed in passing the minimum threshold for getting into the Knesset...


  1. This reminds me of how back in 1999 the National Union was itself a coalition of several "mini-parties"- each one of whom only had 1 seat (except Moledet with two). In a way, ever since NU joined up with Israel Beiteinu, it's been fighting to stay relevant and not be overshadowed by Leiberman and his significantly larger group of supporters. Even now that Beiteinu is on its own, NU is still struggling to define and preserve itself.

    I think that Eitam's mistake was not trying to split decisively from the NRP back in the last elections- a costly waffling which showed all the way down to the name he chose. This new venture is going to be way too little, too late. At best it will constitute a mere label change. My biggest surprise is that he got Levy to go along with this- after all it's HIS neck on the block first if they don't get enough seats.

    From what little I've observed of Eitam over the years, he reminds me a lot of U.S. Grant- great military leader, but as a politician, hovering somewhere between incompetent and just plain crappy.

    ...Actually, a lot of Israel's ex-military politicians could be summed up similarly.

  2. That's not fair. He left the leadership of the NRP because he was attacked from within...and by the way, he was right! The others in his party wanted to remain in the government even as the disengagement was becoming more and more likely. And he did not lead the Ichud - that's R' Elon. He's not even #2, that's the new head of the NRP (and the man who took him down), Zevulun Orlev.

    Zevy R.

  3. Zevy - I agree that he was right for leaving NRP. he was almost forced out because of the disengagement issue. But then he cobbled together the new party, then the NU merger, then he merged that with NRP (if he and NRP was at such odds, how did he mastermind that merger?) and now this one. How much more fragmented can the right wing parties get?

  4. At the time of the merger, the polls showed that each party would increase greatly if they combined, so that was understandable. I actually do agree with the point that a new, small party, is not the way to go. Why can't all the right-wingers ignore their petty differences and build a huge, right-wing party? Enough is enough.

  5. Sorry, that was me.

  6. The bottom line is that no matter how you slice it, it's the same people shuffling and reshuffling the deck.

    The NU/NRP is really just the NRP led by the more "Mercaz" types and not by the more "Meimad" types. This is what a majority of the constituents want anyway,and any new faction is just an attempt to change some of the leadership.

    IMHO, it's a big waste of time, energy, and resoureces of every type. It does nothing to add to the party, but just weakens it.

    As to the top spot, only one person is a real visionary; HaRav Benny Elon. Effie Eitam is fine (no pun intended for those of you who understand), but he doesn't have what it takes to be #1. HaRav Levy tried and saw that he didn't have it either, and certainly Orlev isn't it. He and his faction are a large reason for the formation of the NU in the first place. Auman? Not a politician.

    Only Benny Elon can lead at this point.

    BTW- I don't know anyone who believes in Achi. I just know a lot of people who believe as I do.

  7. I hear you Yishai. Unfortunately, Rav Benny Elon has more or less been amrginalized over the years. people consider him extreme and pointless. With all the years he has led NU, where has he gotten them or the right wing. While I like him, I do not see him being able to change the status quo of NU...


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