Will Avi Gabbay Lead Israel’s Labor Party to a Comeback?

On Monday, Avi Gabbay—a former telecommunications executive—won the race to be the new head of Israel’s Labor party, meaning that he would be prime minister in the event of an electoral victory for his party. A relative newcomer to politics, Gabbay only recently joined Labor, after spending a few years in the center-right Kulanu party and briefly serving as Benjamin Netanyahu’s environmental-protection minister. Michael Koplow explains the significance of Gabbay’s election:

For starters, Gabbay is Mizraḥi, born to Moroccan immigrant parents. . . . Until Menachem Begin’s 1977 victory, Israel was essentially a one-party state, and that party represented the Ashkenazi, socialist, secular, Labor Zionist elite. Begin’s election did many things, including ushering in four decades of right-wing dominance, but one of the most critical was empowering Mizraḥi Jews and giving them a voice. Begin was not himself Mizraḥi, but he openly represented a Mizraḥi constituency. . . .

Gabbay is not the first Mizraḥi Labor leader, but [if] the polling is accurate, he is going to siphon off votes from Likud, in no small part due to his background.

Gabbay also represents a break from Labor’s ideological past. . . . He is known for advocating populist economic policies during his brief time in politics, but he is decidedly not from the old Labor economic tradition. This too creates the potential for Labor to expand its pool of supporters, and to demonstrate that it understands the way in which it must craft economic policies that relate to the new economy. . . .

Israel is a center-right country, and the key to Labor returning to a position of power isn’t boosting its traditional turnout but [expanding] its base of support. Gabbay has the potential to capture new non-traditional Labor voters, and that is what makes his victory tantalizing to those who want to see Labor challenge Likud. . . . [None of this means] that he will be the next prime minister, or ever the prime minister. It does, however, mean that Labor may see itself back in a center-left coalition before too long.

Read more at Matzav Blog

More about: Avi Gabbay, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Labor Party, Mizrahi Jewry


Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict