Big business intervention in Israeli politics during the last ten years has been marked by endless scandals and corruption that have shock all of Israeli society. In the last elections in 2000 there was a scandal about illegal funding of the election campaign of the labour candidate Barak. Now the latest corruption scandal involves the Likud party, and it definitely beat the "records" of Labour corruption.
Everything began about four weeks ago after the primaries in the Likud. In this "celebration of democracy" many new faces came forward. Some of these new candidates pushed to one side even the old veterans of Israeli politics. This fact was somewhat of a political enigma. But what had actually happened was discovered a few days later. Some of the Likud members declared to the police that same people had offered them money if they voted for certain candidates. The police investigation discovered shocking details about a system of "contractors" that can recruit votes for parliamentary candidates - not for free off course!
A good example of this system is the story of 27 year-old Imbal Gabrieli. This charming stewardess before being chosen to go on the list of candidates of the Likud list, had worked in her father's night club in Tel-Aviv and had never been involved in politics. Had she had a miraculous conversion to politics? Not in Israel! The answer is quite simple. Her uncle, Reuven Gabrieli is a well known casino boss. The family decided that their business needed representation in parliament, and the popular uncle just made a few phone calls to the right people. Imbal's father and uncle are sure that she will be the perfect member of parliament. She knows the name of Menachem Begin and she is against the evacuation of the settlements!
If however you don't have any millionaire relatives, but you do have, for example, a position in a ministry you can go through another channel. For example the Minister for the Environment, Zachi Anegbi, made sure that some of the Likud electors were given senior posts in his ministry.
The media is now talking about a "Mafia" in the Likud and is openly discussing how many votes Sharon's party will lose as a result of this scandal. There are also no big expectations from what will come out of the investigations. The example of investigations into Labour financial position are still fresh in people's memories. They haven't achieved anything in two years. It's worth noting that Mizna and his Labour party have not been celebrating at their opponents' troubles. They understand that the next corruption scandal could erupt in their own camp. Corruption, the blatant ignoring of the interests of ordinary people, the lobbying by big business interests, all make ordinary working Israelis very angry. But without a clear working class based opposition they see no alternative but to vote for the traditional bourgeois parties over and over again.
As in all the countries of the world there is large scale disillusionment with these parties. None of them are really addressing the real problems of ordinary working people.
There is clearly a vacuum on the Israeli left. And there is huge potential for a genuine, socialist, left alternative. The task is to build it.