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Sharon’s Victim

Autor: Marina Constantinoiu 13 Ian 2006 - 00:00
Sharon’s Victim

Correspondence from Jerusalem
He is the vice-president of a party that, at the last general elections in Israel, created the surprise by becoming the third in the order of importance in the Israeli Parliament: Shinui (Change).

Avraham Poraz, an Israeli politician, former Minister of Internal Affairs in the Sharon Cabinet, is born in Bucharest, in 1950. He left Romania together with his family when he was only 5. However, he speaks Romanian perfectly. We met him in Tel-Aviv, on Hashmonian Street, where, in a modern building, Shinui has one of its elegant headquarters. From the fifth floor, from the office of Poraz, one can see Tel-Aviv with all its best. This is an emblematic city for a state that proves that people are capable of wonders.

POLITICAL GAMES. At present in the opposition, Shinui is in an undutiful position, the first "victim" of Sharon. By creating the centered party Kadima, Sharon completely fogged the Israeli political environment, by stealing electorate from about all the parties and crushing Shinui, the party with the same target. According to the surveys, from 15 mandates out of 120, that they benefit from in the present Knesset, Shinui is expected to obtain only 4 or 5 after the elections in March. I asked Poraz about his situation. An open and relaxed dialogue about politics in its pure form.

Jurnalul National: What is your position? As victims of Kadima, what is new about Shinui?
Avraham Poraz: Mister Sharon created a centered party, just like ours. In the first phase, he had a phenomenal success with Kadima. This party got to have even 40 mandates in the future Knesset, according to the surveys. The apparition of Kadima hit all the other parties, including us, as we lost two thirds of the mandates. The question is what is to come, what will the health problems of Prime Minister Sharon mean for the political environment and for us especially. It is clear he will not be able to continue as Prime Minister. The present fight is for him to be rescued for his family, for him to leave at his farm together with his beloved, but not as a politician. The question about Kadima’s meaning without Sharon is still valid, and the answer is very hard to find at present. There are three months left until the elections. It is enough time.

I understand you still hope. Do you consider the surveys are somewhat emotional, that the electorate is still undecided about the future and there is a chance for the situation to change?
Of course we hope for the things to change, and that we will recover the electorate we lost after the appearance of Kadima. Kadima’s success is centered on Sharon’s personality, who proved to be a courageous, charismatic leader with a lot of energy. This is the main reason for which the party received such support. If this happens after Sharon leaves and if his replacement, Ehud Olmert, continues this, the situation will be similar to the one in the commerce: when someone opens a store with the same merchandise as the store next-door. It is a fight on the same field. The main difference between Kadima and us is the approach towards religion: we are a laic party, which promotes civilian marriages, wants public transportation in Shabat etc. The present leaders of Kadima are people that have collaborated with the religious parties in the past years.

"Any Alliance with Kadima Is Out of the Question"

Should I understand that there are no chances for a pre-electoral alliance or a merger between Shinui and Kadima for a more powerful position in the Knesset?
Yes, you should. A lot of those that vote for Kadima are religious people or people who see religion as much more important, but we are a laic party and we clearly cannot be in the same formation with them. We are not attractive to them. And the other way around: if we make an alliance with Kadima, our faithful electorate, which wants us to fight for our ideals, will leave us.

What are your reproaches? Where did Shinui go wrong?
We believe we did nothing wrong. But the agenda changed during the Sharon era. The withdrawal from Gaza changed this agenda by transforming it into a security one. From the economical viewpoint, we have the same ideology as Kadima. Therefore, we did not do any mistakes but there are some new things that appear from time to time. We are like kids when they have a new toy and maybe people want to "play" with new toys.

"We Didn’t Count on the Romanian-Born Electorate"

You are the leader of a party which also has another Romanian member. Have you ever tried to count on the Romanian-born electorate in Israel?
No. This electorate doesn’t worth anything. The Romanian-born Israelis don’t vote emotionally for the other Romanian-born people. They vote for the Israeli political parties. All of them. First, the majority is already at the second generation. The problem is complex. Many people have mixed families and have already got to the second generation. They lost contact to their origin country. Look, my children don’t know any Romanian! Therefore, my opinion is that all this ethnical theory is politically meaningless in nowadays Israel. We managed to create a society that, at least at the second generation, forgot about the identification with the parents’ origin. We are not like the Turkish in Germany, for example. We integrated in this society.

One final question, a little more analytical: who wins and who loses from Sharon’s health problems?
Truly, it is very hard to give an answer. Sometimes, in history, it was proven that another leader, who proved to be even better, had replaced a great leader. My opinion is that it was clear that, without the present health problems, it was very hard for a 77 year old to start a new mandate as PM. Taking into account his health problems, everyone expected Sharon to face difficulties in fulfilling his mandate. Who knows? Maybe Olmert will be a leader as good as Sharon was. It is hard to speculate. We should not forget that he was for the leaving from Gaza even before Sharon.

Translated by SORIN BALAN
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