Friday, November 08, 2002
I'm going to make a bold prediction: if Dan Meridor joins Shinui, Shinui will become the second-largest party in the Knesset.
Shinui, currently, is a one-issue anti-haredi party. But the party's other positions - supportive of Sharon's defensive war on the P.A. but open to a negotiated settlement - put them in the mainstream of Israeli opinion. With a "prince" like Meridor on-board, Shinui could break out of the single-issue straightjacket while keeping the support of its core members with a strong, Liberal message: an end to religious coersion and haredi privileges (e.g. draft exemptions), a strong foreign policy and a Thatcherite economic policy. Such a platform would cut Labor off at the knees, because the only reason Labor continues to exist is as a home for yuppies, aging Ashkenazim and public-sector dependents. All their voters who are solidly left-wing can vote Meretz and not see their votes diluted by the Ben-Eliezers of the party. All their voters who cannot vote Likud because it is too wedded to keeping the territories, or because it is too identified with the religious right, or because it is run by "riff-raff" now have a viable alternative: Shinui. Even the name is appealing; why vote for "Labor" (whose voters are, after all, not laborers) when you can vote for "Change."
A switch to Shinui would also be the best career move Meridor could make. He would be invaluable in helping Shinui become a more well-rounded party, capable of appealing to a broad swathe of the electorate. In theory, there's no reason it couldn't appeal to Meimad voters, Orthodox Jews who broke with the NRP over the question of the territories and who have reformist views on synagogue-state relations. By contrast, a new Center Party would only attract goo-goos, and would have no influence at all. (Kind of like Meimad.) And by rejoining Likud, Meridor would only box himself into a corner with the handful of other relative doves; a party divided between Sharon and Netanyahu would have little place for a Meridor.
But that's just why Meridor won't join Shinui. One thing you can count on is Dan Meridor's integrity. He has so much integrity, he not only would never make a move solely for career reasons. He will always choose the option that is worst for his career, and thereby reaffirms his integrity.
Nice thought, though.