Shas’s faction room in the Knesset has a large portrait of the party’s late mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Labor’s room has a massive painting of slain prime minister Yitzhak
Rabin. When Kadima’s faction was larger, it had a picture of party
founder Ariel Sharon.
But now Kadima has only two seats. Current leader
Shaul Mofaz and MK Yisrael Hasson were never particularly close to Sharon, and
neither see him as an ideological mentor.
Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni has
exaggerated her closeness to Sharon for political gain, but there is no picture
of him in her faction room, and he wouldn’t recognize half of her MKs. He
especially would not like to see there MK Amram Mitzna, who ran against him and
accused him of corruption.
So where in the Knesset can the legacy of
Sharon be found? It is hard to say. There are MKs in Bayit Yehudi and the
Likud’s right flank who sound like Sharon did in the 1980s – hawkish politicians
who would grab a microphone at a party forum, as he did, and shout, “Who is in
favor of annihilating terror?” There are also MKs in Labor and Meretz who still
speak of the virtues of Sharon’s Gaza Strip withdrawal, even though it did not
turn out the way he envisioned. Due to the dramatic shift in Sharon’s politics
near the end of his career, most MKs agreed with him at one point or
Therefore, assigning one room in the Knesset to Sharon’s picture
cannot really be done. But Sharon’s legacy is still there.
His legacy is
there every time a politician takes a key step, knowing full well there will be
consequences. He is there every time a leader makes a decision, aware that many
people will like it and many people will be devastated by it.
known as a bulldozer.
At one point he bulldozed Palestinian terrorists
and other enemies of Israel.
Later on, the Jewish communities in Samaria
and the Gaza Strip, some of whom he had helped build decades earlier.
MKs did not like decisions he made, he bulldozed them as well. When the Likud
tried to prevent him from withdrawing from Gaza, he bulldozed the party,
ignoring the results of an internal party referendum that he himself
Has that legacy impacted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu?
No, or at least not yet.
Netanyahu still has a reputation as a political
zigzagger who changes his mind back and forth and easily succumbs to pressure.
He is not seen as having the courage to split the Likud the way Sharon
But maybe it is too soon to say. Politicians have been known to gain
confidence as time goes on.
And maybe all the talk about Sharon over the
past two weeks has gotten to Netanyahu.
Perhaps it will make him feel he
has something to prove.
“Leaders are judged by their ability to make
decisions, even if they are tough,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction last
Hearing that would have made Sharon proud.