Labour Party Timeline – Via Israel National News

Today in its news bulletin, Israel National News presented this list of milestones in Labor history. I am recording it here in full for its historical significance.

January 1968 – Labor was founded upon the merger of Mapai (Workers’ Party of Eretz Yisrael), Labor Unity, and Rafi into one party. Mapai, under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion, had been Israel’s governing party throughout the country’s 20 years of existence, after having controlled the Jewish community in the Land of Israel even beforehand via the Jewish Agency and Haganah.

January 1969 – Labor allies itself with another left-wing party, Mapam (United Workers Party), and the alliance became the Alignment.

October 1969 – The Alignment, headed by Golda Meir, wins the elections with 56 Knesset seats.

December 1973 – Three months after the Yom Kippur War, the Alignment wins the public’s support for the last time in 20 years, and Yitzchak Rabin becomes Prime Minister.

May 1977 – After Rabin resigns in wake of the “dollars in U.S.” scandal, the Alignment heads the opposition for the first time when the Likud headed by Menachem Begin wins the election with 43 Knesset seats.

July 1984 – Two elections later, the Alignment headed by Shimon Peres wins more seats than the Likud but fails to form a government. Instead, it agrees to a rotation government; Yitzchak Shamir of Likud is Prime Minister until 1986, and Peres follows until 1988, when the Likud wins again.

June 1992 – Rabin becomes Prime Minister after trouncing first Shimon Peres for Labor leadership and then the Likud in the national election, and announces, “I will navigate, I will lead.”

September 1993 – Leading possibly the most left-wing government in Israel’s history, Rabin signs the Oslo Accords.

November 1995 – Yitzchak Rabin is assassinated, Shimon Peres takes over.

May 1996 – Peres-led Labor loses election to Netanyahu’s Likud.

May 1999 – Ehud Barak takes over leadership of Labor, re-names it One Israel, and wins election with 26 Knesset seats – the smallest ever for a victorious party.

January 2003 – Labor drops to 19 seats, half of the amount won by the Likud.

February 2009 – Labor continues its downward slide, dropping to 13 seats.

January 2011 – Ehud Barak and 4 MKs quit party, leaving Labor with its lowest Knesset membership ever – 8. Unclear whether all of them will remain in Labor.

Hamas and Israel

After what is called the Second Lebanese War of 2006, the Wingograd Committee concluded that the army played too big a part in the decision-making at the political level.

The Committee said this problem was compounded by the Government’s lack of military experience.

In Chapter 11 of Amos Elon’s The Israelis: Founders and Sons, he writes that the external threats that make Israel a “nation in arms” make it ripe for militarism and a mentality that help ensure the supremacy of the army over the civil authorities.

And yet, he concludes, Israel does not have a militaristic mentality. He talks about the army’s comparative informality, the forced retirement of officers at an early age, the ideals of the unprofessional soldier, of the farmer who leaves his land to fight and then returns to pick up his plough.

Elon wrote this in 1972. Has the ideal been abandoned?

And a question I have. If war is defined as a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations, or tribes, or groups, then how did the conflict between the State of Israel and Hizbollah meet that definition?

Of course we use the word ‘war’ in other senses – such as the ‘war on terror’ or the ‘war against poverty’. And yet it seems dangerous – culturally and psychologically – to describe the conflict between the State of Israel and a group of terrorist/freedom fighters/guerillas (you choose your definition) as a war.

Unless one considers it a proxy war between Israel and Syria/Iran.

And now in 2009 with the incursion into Gaza we have accusations that Israel has over-reacted and is using too much force against what are after all poorly-aimed rockets that have caused very few deaths.

And again I wonder why the Israeli government has failed to make the point that precisely because this is a proxy ‘war’ between Israel and Syria/Iran, Israel has the right to fear that if not stopped now, Hamas will import weapons guidance systems that will enable it to target Israeli cities more precisely. And if the capability is not stopped now, then when?