By Israel Harel
The Labor Party, declared Ehud Barak in his victory speech, will follow the path of the founder of the state and the generation of founders. Even if victory speech promises are greeted with skepticism, the choice of these words and their timing are worth noting. Especially encouraging were his remarks that the State of Israel is 'the home of the Jewish people, its historic bastion, the homeland of our people.'
On the backdrop of the post-Zionist voices in academia, the media and politics, it is considered bad form these days to utter words like 'homeland' and 'the national home of the Jewish people.' These terms have become rare - or illegitimate - among those who consider themselves among the progressive, cultured, liberal sector of society. Therefore there was something refreshing, certainly daring, when Barak uttered them in his speech. Time will tell whether the Labor Party under his leadership will return to the positions and ideas it held while leading the Yishuv [Jewish settlement] in Mandatory Palestine, preceding the establishment of the state and during the state's first 29 years of existence.
The extent to which Barak's declarations should not be taken for granted can be seen, for example, in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. While preparing a constitution for Israel in recent months, the committee has discussed the identity of the state and its symbols. The Labor Party members, MKs Colette Avital and Matan Vilnai, like their new party head, are in favor of the constitution declaring that the State of Israel is "the national home of the Jewish people." Others, however, among them committee chair MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima), are opposed to this.
From quite a different perspective than Amira Hass. Haaretz includes quite a range of views.