“All this bluff and corruptibility which came into the Israeli political life in an attempt to form a narrow government failed not only tactically but also conceptually”-Yitzhak Rabin, 1992
Four catchy phrases ruined Shimon Peres political life, relegating him to the simple formalities of Israel’s Presidency. “Yes and No” was coined by Sefy Rivlin, and cost Peres the 1981 and 1984 elections. A Peres puppet was shown answering “yes and no” to every question asked.
Before that, in 1977, Yitzhak Rabin called Peres an “indefatigable conspirator.” Since this article is in English, I won’t analyze the brilliance of the Hebrew saying; in the feat of his lifetime, Rabin ruined Peres with three words.
The other two phrases are related to Shimon Peres attempt in 1990 to replace Shamir’s government—of which he was Minister of Finances—by a narrow government led by Labor and supported by ultra-Orthodox parties. Peres failed, and Rabin hit again. He called the affair the “Dirty Trick” (literally “The Stinking Exercise”).
In the popular protests that followed, the fourth slogan appeared: “Mush’hatim, nim’astem!” (roughly “corrupt people, we’re fed up with you!”). Rabin used it as the Labor slogan for the 1992 election, which he won. It was obvious that he included Peres in the culprits at whom the slogan was aimed.
Rabin and Peres
Aryeh Deri and Ovadia Yosef
The Unbearable Stench of the Dirty Trick
At the beginning of March 1990, Peres drafted a secret agreement with Aryeh Deri from the Haredi-Mizrahi Shas party to support the dissolution of the government. Subsequently Peres issued a motion of no confidence against the government, and Shamir fired Peres.
On March 15, the government was dissolved by a vote of 60 to 55; it was the first time in Israeli history that a government lost a confidence vote. Shas—the partner to the conspiracy to remove Shamir—oddly abstained in the vote; this was the first sign something went wrong in the plan.
Agudat Yisrael—the second Haredi party involved in the Dirty Trick—supported the vote. In the aftermath, President Chaim Herzog chose Peres to form the new government; however, Peres found it difficult to sign an agreement.
The most humiliating issue was that potential partners requested from him cash-securities in order to secure the political agreement.
Nobody trusted Peres. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef—Shas mentor—refused to allow its party members to join such a government. Rabbi Elazar Shach, the spiritual leader of a third Haredi party called “Degel HaTorah” called not to tolerate a coalition with the secular “eaters of hares and swine.”
The new government was to be approved on April 11. In the closest thing to a public execution in the Israeli political life, Peres lost the vote at the Knesset after two members of his proposed coalition disappeared without explanations.
Later it was discovered that Eliezer Mizrahi and Avraham Verdiger, both from Agudat Yisrael, were absent due to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s ruling not to support any concession of an Israeli territory. Following a long saga, Shamir presented a new government on June 11. Peres had proved truth his “indefatigable conspirator” image.
Twenty-two years later the saga is still alive. Two of the Dirty Trick Affair leaders are running in the upcoming elections after a long absence from political life.
Aryeh Deri from Shas—who had closed the deal with Peres without the approval of Rabbi Yosef—returned to the party’s leadership. Eliezer Mizrahi—one of the disappeared Knesset members during the vote—announced on November 8 that he is running again; he is conducting negotiations with various parties of the extreme right.
Following the elections, Peres may get an almost daily unpleasant reminder of his own questionability. Over the years, participants of the Dirty Trick said in interviews that nothing was evil because it was a legal political move.
There are no doubts on the legality; however, it is considered illegitimate because Peres conspired against the government of which he was a senior member.
As said, he proved being an “indefatigable conspirator;” after that he served as Prime Minister for a short period after Rabin’s assassination but his political career was over.
Dirty Tricks | Israel’s Only Truth
Dirty Trick 2012
This long introduction was essential. It shows an intrinsic pattern of the Israeli society and its political echelons. Dirty Tricks are the norm there, regardless specific party affiliations.
Given the dramatic characteristics of the Dirty Trick, one would expect from all political players to study the case and avoid similar errors. Netanyahu obviously learned its details because he replicated them in 2012.
However, instead of acting against his own government, he acted against the American one by purposely intervening in the 2012 elections. I analyzed in Obama’s Victory Shocks Israel how Netanyahu openly supported Romeny in a variety of ways.
This was an unusual intervention in another country’s elections, especially considering that the USA is Israel’s main ally. Netanyahu may win the upcoming elections, but he has publicly lost his own version of the Dirty Trick and may become a serious competitor for the position of president, the Siberia of Israeli politics.
Should Obama’s Administration consider Israel a hostile country?