Friday, May 18, 2012

The Sputtered Upset of 1977

The beginning paragraphs of Prof. Asher Cohen's The unfinished victory Although it’s been 35 years since the historic political upset that brought the Likud to power, the Ashkenazi, secular, old guard, socialist, and liberal monopoly on power is far from over.

At first glance, although it may be somewhat simplistic and partial, the events of May 2012 appear to provide the perfect backdrop for the 35th anniversary of the 1977 political upheaval, when the Likud became the largest party in the Knesset.

The right-wing bloc appears stable, the main opposition party has been effectively shattered in the wake of its entry into the coalition, and the Likud's historic rival — Labor — has about as much clout as the old Herut party did in the 1950s. Was the late sociologist Baruch Kimmerling correct more than a decade ago when he described “the end of the ASOSL rule?" ASOSL — Ashkenazi, secular, old guard, socialists, and nationalists — ruled the state and society with a heavy hand while dictating social and cultural, political and economic norms. That is, until the upheaval. When we refer to them as the ASOSLs, we are also referring to their heirs, the ASOLLs – Ashkenazi, secular, old guard, leftists, and liberals.

Although it has been 35 years since Begin's stunning upset, and despite the events of the last month, Israel is still a ways away from the end of ASOSL rule. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that a political regime cannot foment change when it is devoid of a mindset befitting a regime that seeks to rule. The second reason is that the political regime has limited capabilities when it cannot wield influence in other key positions of power in the state. Those with the mindset befitting a regime that wishes to rule repeatedly return to their ideologies and their policies, which leads them to lose elections time after time. Their positions are not those that are taken up based on populist considerations, but rather they are absolute truths. Without political control, they will try to conquer other positions that enable them to wield influence. The opposite is the case with those who lack such a mindset. They make do with the political refrain that they will carry out their adversaries’ policies better and more effectively, an attitude that is encapsulated by the campaign slogan, “Only the Likud can.” They do not foment wholesale, comprehensive change that is predicated on an ideology that they espoused while in opposition.

The first symbolic event that foreshadowed this occurred after the upheaval. To everybody’s surprise, Menachem Begin insisted that Moshe Dayan accept the foreign minister’s post despite Dayan’s role in the government’s failure to anticipate the Yom Kippur War. Dayan was one of the driving forces that led Begin to sign the peace agreement with Egypt. In hindsight, it is easy to portray these agreements as a national achievement. It doesn’t change the fact that within a short time after the upheaval, the Likud orchestrated a move that was first conceived by a political rival that was defeated in the recent elections.

The settlement blocs that were built by the ASOSLs, including Yamit and Gush Katif, were evacuated by Likud governments. What is left of the proposed laws that provoked such an outcry in the recent winter session? The ASOSLs relentless attack effectively did away with elements that represented initial sparks of a ruling regime mindset.
blog comments powered by Disqus