It was Israel’s founding party.
It was once the strongest party among the many in Israel’s pantheon of parties.
It has been properly dubbed as the Zionist-Socialist party, for it is a member of the Progressive Alliance and an observer member of the Party of European Socialists.
It was the dominant Political Party – 1968-1977
Labor Prime Ministers: David Ben-Gurion; Moshe Sharett; Golda Meir; Levi Eshkol; Yitzhak Rabin; Shimon Peres; Ehud Barak -- all dedicated to the task of the creation and development of a Jewish nation. The Labor Party was their means to get it done.
In rejecting their Labor Party, the Israelis have, as I see it, done this:
-- rejected Socialism
-- rejected a party with little Judaism
-- rejected the persistent peace initiatives
1. Socialism. Many of the first groups to Israel came out of Eastern Europe and Russia and had known no other political philosophy but Socialism. Most of them had cast aside the practices and beliefs of Judaism. (However, David Ben-Gurion had a keen interest in the scriptures.)
The Labor Party was a Socialist Party and promoted the welfare state. In the 1970’s it brought on increases in pension benefits, the creation of new social security schemes, children’s insurance, vacation pay for adopting parents, family allowance for veterans, housing rehabilitation in some areas and others.
In the 1970s the party was troubled by internal dissention and persistent charges of corruption—a situation that nearly always accompanies socialism.
With that done, the policies of Labor Party socialism were discredited.
Capitalism benefited the nation enormously. Socialism had benefited somewhat through government programs, but corruption was rampant and the economy stalemated under Socialism.
When in 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu was appointed Finance Minister he undertook to reduce the government’s excessive regulations, its bloated bureaucracy and welfare dependency. He froze government spending for three years, attacked monopolies and cartels, increased competition and reduced the top tax rates. “An economic miracle!” the commentators said afterwards.
Now, new companies are being formed all the time; and these new companies use the intelligent high-techies.
Under the Likud Party, business entrepreneurs are encouraged and have multiplied until Israel is now called “The Start-Up Nation.” When the book by that name, authored by Dan Senor and Saul Singer,was published in 2009, they said that “Israel had the highest density of start-ups in the world, more Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ exchange than all companies from the entire European continent.” And the nation is thriving.
2. The Labor Party was mostly irreligious. It had no inclination for seeking God’s mercy and guidance. It rejected the rich tradition of their covenant with Yahweh. It didn’t view the long exile of the Jewish people as punishment for their sins, as did many traditional Jews.
Labor Party Zionism wasn’t based on the Torah but was secular, democratic socialist a proponent of gay rights, easy on sexual misconduct.
Are these party members expecting the Messiah? I’m foolish to bring that up.
It was European.
Modern Israelis now have more faith. Polls indicate this. They are becoming, in general, more open to their version of Judaism. Many of them are not strictly observant but quite a few are; and they have rejected the liberal Judaism of American Jews. For example, there are no “Reform” or “Conservative” (not very different from the Reform) synagogues in Israel. Those branches of Judaism are too wishy-washy. Israeli congregations are modern Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox; and even the “ultras” are being received more and more into society, especially as they are willing to accept military participation.
QUESTION: Is there not corruption in the Likud Party and in all of them, even some of the religious parties? MY ANSWER: Yes, but not the gross and persistent corruption of yesteryear. (In fact, it can be argued that those now alleging corruption are charging it against Netanyahu for very personal misdemeanors. Am I not right?)
3. FOREIGN POLICY. Under Labor Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel recognized the PLO as the proper head of state for Palestine. Previously, the Israelis had opposed the formation of a Palestinian state.
Later, Ehud Barak, the Labor Party candidate in May 1999, was elected prime minister. During the elections he promised a new and vigorous drive for peace and was eager and anxious to partner with President Bill Clinton.
But Barak saw that Yassir Arafat wasn’t excited about peace. Instead, Arafat was said to be “aggressively passive” and his strategy “hyper-passive.” (From Aaron David Miller’s The Much Too Promised Land) Yes, he was passive.
Barak was angered. Nevertheless, he pressed on, conceding more….and yet more. No proposal was final. He just presented incentives like an overly-indulgent parent.
Here is what Labor Prime Minister Barak overlooked: (1) The Palestinian Charter called for the annihilation of the Zionist entity and that “armed struggle was the only way to liberate Palestine.” (2) The Islamic decrees that the Jews should forever be disgraced and debased. Therefore, if Arafat’s agreements would contradict these Islamic fundamental axioms, he would be dead meat. His own men would get him. (3) To adhere to any peace proposal, Arafat would have had to give up fighting, and he was a fighter.
Make no mistake: the Israelis yearn for peace—just listen to their music. But they have become disillusioned with the Peace Process.
The death of the Labor party has been coming partly because it was too ready to yield land that is both historic and that was provided for the Jewish people by the League of Nations.
Another thing: The Labor Party leaders knew that they needed the United States to negotiate for them, but schemed for an alliance with the European community once peace had been achieved!
The Labor Party ultra-peace, European-style Jews seek a democratic nation and a multicultural nation with no particular cultural allegiance. To them, a specifically Jewish state represents a rollback to a lower form of cultural-religious existence.” They’re O. K. with the stories of Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets. It’s their historical culture, but they’re not big on it. To speak of how to live as God’s people, to live in expectation of redemption or the Messiah—that’s not their thing.
In April, 2019, the party garnered only 6 votes, down from 24 in the previous election. In the election of March 2, 2020, it received just 3 votes. Then, in a recent poll, it didn’t get enough votes to have even one vote in the Knesset.
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The Torah and prophets of Israel warned Israel against going the way of the nations, because, if they did, they would be breaking the covenant with the Lord and covenanting instead with the nations that were headed towards divine judgment. The modern Labor Party ignored such.
Its demise is deserved.
Break up your fallow ground,
and do not sow among thorns.
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
Remove the foreskin of your hearts,
O people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah 4:3-4 (NRSV)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.