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Saturday, December 31, 2005 

What's wrong with Amir Peretz?

While it's true that Ariel Sharon's taken a lot of the attention of many lately, that's not saying that even Amir Peretz, the former chairman of the Israeli workers union committee isn't just as worrisome. This man, as Steven Plaut probably explains the best, (Hat tip: Galilee Blog) has made a mockery out of free trade and transport in this country, by declaring unlawful strikes that included holding up airport flights and which angered a lot of good people in the public. As told in the following:
...The new Labor Party boss is, to put it politely, a cross between Jimmy Hoffa and Cheech. A party hack who built his career mainly by establishing a power base in Israel's corrupt Histadrut trade union federation, Peretz got as far as he has in part through fortuitously pinning his political fortunes to the tailcoats of other politicians, and in part because the establishment politicians in Labor never took him seriously enough to neuter him politically.

Born in Morocco, Peretz immigrated with his parents to Israel at the age of four. He first came to national attention in Israel in 1983 upon his election as mayor of the economically distressed working class Negev town of Sderot. This was long before the days when Sderot morphed into Israel's Stalingrad, routinely taking the brunt of rocket attacks by the PLO and its affiliates. (Peretz has been notoriously absent from Sderot during those attacks, and has had almost nothing to say about them).
And while he may have condemned the suicide bombing in Netanya a few weeks ago, and called for more convincing security measures when that tragedy took place, as Plaut says, no, to say the least, he has never complained about the attacks the PLO and Hamas have conducted against the good citizens of Sderot, if at all, instead seeming to be more "concerned" with economy and money. And on unemployment in Israel:
As the major promoter of an ever higher minimum wage in Israel, Peretz bears a major share of responsible for the country's high unemployment rate, caused largely by that minimum wage. Peretz also led the campaign against the employment in Israel of foreign temporary workers, who today are the backbone of Israel's agricultural and construction sectors.

Had Peretz gotten his way, both those sectors would have collapsed.

While mouthing socialist slogans about the working class, Peretz actually built his power base mainly on the elitist "unions" of highly skilled, lavishly paid professionals – i.e., feather-bedded workers in government-owned or sponsored monopolies such as the Israel Electric Company, whose "workers," including engineers and technicians, are probably the most grossly overpaid group of people in Israel. Peretz made common cause with the "workers" in this and other sectors – such as the seaports and airports – in which market competition is suppressed by the Israeli government.

Peretz consistently promoted the interests of the unionized overpaid professionals and semi-professionals at the expense of blue-collar workers – those hurt most by the frequent strikes called by the Histadrut. He single-handedly shut down Israel's airports so often that foreign businessmen were refusing to come to Israel altogether, not from a fear of terrorism but from a fear of getting stranded when the airports were shut down.
And while he may not declare any airport strikes if he were to be elected, he doesn't have to - he'll have the whole state treasury in his grasp, with direct access to all the moolah he wants, using it for little more than to pay his already overpaid cronies in the union committee he ran in such corrupt fashion years ago, and the public would likely end becoming empoverished.

An interesting aside, Peretz's English is very poor, as this WMV recording (via The Muqata) could tell. And the Ha'aretz daily (via Jerusalemcop) reports that he doesn't want to trip the US to give speeches:
Jewish activists close to the Labor Party leadership said yesterday that several of Peretz's advisers are in favor of a New York visit prior to the elections. However, Peretz does not think it is a good idea.

Peretz last visited New York at the beginning of the year, when he addressed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Several years ago, Peretz delivered a speech at a meeting in Chicago of the board of directors of America's largest union.
Yeah, but just how well did he do there? That aside, as the article says, he's not that well known there, which is why the Labor reps in New York want him to travel there.

One of the architects of the notorious Oslo accords, Yossi Beilin, said last month that Peretz would be willing to divide Jerusalem. Indeed, it could be possible, though Beilin most definitely. As some people have argued though, Ariel Sharon is more worrisome than Peretz. They could be right, which is one of the reasons why Sharon has made quite a few headlines lately.

Either way, the fact remains that even Peretz is worrisome, certainly due to his corrupt activities involving the Histadrut, and financially speaking, he'd certainly be reason for concern.

That said, he'd probably be more willing to participate in a televised debate with Benjamin Netanyahu that Sharon would. Yesterday, it was reported in Makor Rishon that Sharon refused to take part in a political debate discussion with Netanyahu. Which, now that I think of it, could certainly give a clue as to his own inability to give a convincing speech in a political discussion.

refuah shlema to sharon.
if peretz ran againts bibi in an election today, i think he would win.

Well, you really need to to be more in touch with the situation here: Back in 2003, Labor got only 19 seats in the last Knesset election (and the Shas party had received 17 seats in an earlier election, so Labor was down to the Shas level). Labor's lost a lot of support over the years thanks to their very outmoded approach to politics. They have made some very disastrous decisions over the years, especially starting with Oslo. We've been suffering ever since.

You mention some of labour failings, particularly it’s support of oslo, as the reason it is suffering in the current pre election polls. What I don’t understand is how Labour and kadima are different, and why kadima under olmert will be so much popular that labour under peretz? Both embrace oslo, and both will give land for peace(or maybe not for peace?)

Those are good questions. The mainstream media here, being lefty as it is, throws its support behind both if they want to. Daniel Pipes had a recent article in which he pointed out just how absurd a lot of the polls were that Israeli and mainstream papers were publishing, and that major news networks like CNN and BBC were giving credence to.

As far as Olmert is concerned, a lot of people here, both left and right, don't find him appealing, and any charm he may have had has vanished in past years. And the fact that he may be willing to divide the very city he once ran as mayor, not to mention his own neglect for the country's security, only serve to further ruin his credibility.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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