Menu JTA Search

Special Interview Why Mapam Must Go It Alone

Knesset member Haika Grossman, who made her name as a Jewish resistance fighter in the Byalistok ghetto, is one of the leaders of an influential group within Mapam which is fighting for the dissolution of the “Alignment” with Labor. The group, which includes at least two of the party’s six MKs as well as powerful figures in its Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz movement, believes that Mapam must run independently in next year’s elections in order to join the Cabinet in a stronger position.

The anti-Alignment forces tested their strength at Mapam’s national convention in Tel Aviv last week. (See separate story.)

In practice though, the convention decision-not-to-decide-yet was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Mapam’s “political committee” submitted a unanimous recommendation “to prepare” to run alone in the 1977 Knesset election.

If Labor adopts the kind of peace policy that Mapam could live with, the party will step back from the brink and continue in tandem with labor. For Mrs. Grossman and her group, the time spent waiting is time wasted. In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, she said that as far as she could see the “marriage” between Mapam and the Labor Party had simply failed. When the Alignment was set up. 8 years ago. Mapam had hoped to play a major role in Cabinet policy-making. But experience proved otherwise, said Grossman. Labor refused to adopt Mapam’s social policies. Poverty had not been substantially diminished; the social gaps had not been meaningfully narrowed; income tax dodgers had not been apprehended; the government’s economic policy perpetuated the inferior status of industrial workers.

HOUR OF DECISION HAS COME

Grossman pointed out that the Labor Party had by and large ignored Mapam’s political views too. The Cabinet encouraged the establishment of new settlements in the administered areas and had not been forthcoming with diplomatic peace initiatives. Grossman’s group objects particularly to the Cabinet’s ongoing “surrender to Gush Emunim’s pressure.”

Grossman and her political allies believed all along that the Alignment must adopt a clear profile which would differ sharply–politically and ideologically–from that of the Likud bloc. But in fact, the Alignment has not proposed a comprehensive peace plan (because of deep differences within its own ranks) and has ignored the Palestinian problem. Grossman says the Labor Party seeks to postpone the hour of decision, thus preferring factional considerations to national interests. Grossman charged. “Mapam must no longer belong to an ideological supermarket,” she declared. Grossman’s reservations were valid eight years ago too. when the Alignment was established. Nevertheless. Mapam went into the deal.

Asked about that, Grossman explained that circumstances have changed. “Today the problems are acute and the national moment of decision is at hand. It is ridiculous for me and Moshe Dayan to appear on the same ticket. when we disagree on almost every issue.” she said. Asked about the possibility that a go-it-alone Mapam could weaken the dovish camp and thereby aid the right. Grossman replied that dissolving the Alignment would strengthen–not weaken the dovish representation in the Knesset. She believes that by running separately in the elections. Mapam would force the Labor Party to define more precisely its political platform, thus emphasizing the ideological distinction between the Labor and Likud. According to Grossman’s scenario. Mapam would join the coalition Cabinet to be established by Labor after the election. She added that Mapam would even be ready to create a “common front” with Labor, but would insist on maintaining its separate political entity, thus increasing its bargaining position and its influence.

NEXT STORY