Israel's Nastiest Political Rivalries.
As Israel faces the prospect of its third election in less than a year, the one factor dominating Israeli politics is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's continuing hold on the leadership of his Likud party. As Gideon Sa'ar's recent failed challenge to Netanyahu for the party leadership demonstratedhe only got 27.5% of the voteNetanyahu continues to be effective at rebuffing internal challenges to his leadership. This ability to manage intraparty squabbles is a key element to Netanyahu's longevity, and stands in stark contrast to the typically roiling nature of Israeli politics throughout Israel's short history.
Rivalries defined Zionist politics even before the state came into existence. David Ben-Gurion, who would become Israel's first prime minister, was a sharp-elbowed and particularly effective infighter. As Amos Oz, Israel's best-known novelist, quipped about Ben-Gurion: "Verbal battle, not dialogue, was his habitual mode of communication." Ben-Gurion emerged as the leader of the Zionist labor coalition because of his successful efforts against Zionism's previous dominant force, Chaim Weizmann. Weizmann and Ben-Gurion had been rivals since the 1920s, and Ben-Gurion recognized that his path to the top necessitated the defeat of Weizmann. Ben-Gurion was not shy about his feelings toward the older man, referring to him at times as "loathsome carrion" and "a trampled corpse." In 1936, Ben-Gurion told Moshe Sharett that "Chaim has already failed us here; he is certainly not capable of future leadership. I see not only the disaster that awaits us now because of this manthe cause of all our political failure in previous years has become clear as well."
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