Same Course, Different Arena

Tonight marked the deadline for submitting party lists for the 19the Knesset. The Atzmaut Party unanimously decided not to submit a list to the Knesset. I therefore will not be running for re-election.

In the 10 days since Ehud Barak’s announcement that he was stepping down as head of the party, I made an effort to find a feasible way to continue to promote the ideas of the party. As you know, ever since Atzmaut was created following the split in the Labor party, I argued that it is the true representative of the old ideas of Labor Zionism, and that its ideas were larger than any one individual. The party continued the tradition of pragmatism, secularism, and confidence in Zionism without the self-flagellation that has become characteristic of much of the left.

These ideas are deeply needed and are not properly represented in the political map today, but it is clear that more time is needed to build the party as the main vehicle for their promotion. Atzmaut has been my political home, and the one that I helped build and shape, and I was looking forward to seeing it thrive and succeed. I have no doubt that had Barak stayed or had we found an appropriate replacement, as in the person of Dan Meridor, or had a few years to build the party separately, we would have already built significant support  and emerged as a serious party with much needed gravitas in today’s political landscape. But in the immediate term, my colleagues and I agreed that the responsible act was not to run in this election, and not spend the public campaign funding allotted to us and return it to the state treasury.

So what’s next?
My commitment to public service and especially to representing Israel and Zionism on the international stage, is as strong as ever, and I will continue to engage in it. In fact, in the past three years I had to turn down numerous speaking invitations due to ongoing Knesset work. Now I will be able to devote more of my time to that end, as well as engaging in more frequent writing of op-eds in the international press.

In the past few weeks I have appeared extensively on the foreign media regarding Operation Pillar of Defense, and the UN vote on Palestine. Here are the links arranged in descending chronological order:

Palestinian UN Vote and Israeli Settlement Expansion
CBC’s The Current
BBC World Service Radio Newshour
BBC World News
Sky News Interview 1
Sky News Interview 2
‘Beware of good intentions over Palestinian statehood’ – Op-Ed published on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN/Time Blog

Operation Pillar of Defense
Reuters Article: ‘Talking tough, Netanyahu walks cautiously in Gaza conflict’

France 24 discussing the success of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and its strategic implications

BBC Radio 5 Live discussing the ceasefire agreement
Battling with a Russia Today (RT) news anchor about the operation
France 24 discussing Egyptian led ceasefire negotiations
BBC World News and France 24 discussing the start of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza

In addition, the book I have been working on in the past few years “It’s NOT the Electoral System, Stupid”, explaining why Israel’s electoral system is no worse than others and therefore should not be changed, will be launched next week in Hebrew and shortly after in English. If you are in Israel, you are more than invited to the launching Wednesday, December 19 at 6pm at the Emerald Room in the Sheraton Tel Aviv.

Ten years ago I have made the decision to make politics and public service in Israel my vocation, and I look forward to fifty more years of productive service in this field (in the best Israeli tradition…). Even if I am not a member of the next Knesset, I certainly hope and expect to return there in the near future, after I have had ample opportunity to continue my foreign policy work, as well as my work in education and economics.

Thank you for your friendship and support these past few years and I will continue to update you on future developments.

Now, all that remains for me is to figure out who I will vote for in these coming elections….