Eretz Yisrael Time

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Monday, June 11, 2007
Gaydamak is an interesting phenomena. Here is a (presumably) secular Jew, who believes in unconstrained free-market capitalism, Jewish pride, and the power of populism.

As someone who doesn’t know Gaydamak (though I will work on trying to meet him to write about it on the blog) I have no clue whether everything he is doing is planned out or part of his philosophy and ideology.

I keep remembering Sharon who used (and eventually abused) the Right in his quest for power.

Gaydamak’s aligning himself with the religious and the right raises some interesting questions. As does his outright alienating of those on the other side.

He clearly believes in free markets and Jewish pride –one can easily assess that from his history, behavior, and statements.

But when did he find God? And not only find him, but become his foot soldier against anti-Jewish practices (i.e. selling pork) in Israel.

In Gaydamak’s quest for power (or acceptance) he obviously holds to the belief that a strong offense is the best defense. He shows that when he makes fools of the politicians in power, or when he sets deadlines for the police to either put up or shut up.

And for some reason, he has also decided that aligning himself with the religious is the right step, certainly if his goal is Mayor of Jerusalem then that would make sense - though I have trouble seeing him “merely” wanting to be Mayor, unless Mayor is just a stepping stone. (others claim he wants to be kingmaker in his party, while someone else does the work).

But on the other hand, all his moves are seemingly populistic.

Trying to force Tiv Taam to be kosher makes the news, and widens it’s clientele - if he plans to take on the big 3 supermarkets which it looks like he might, but are religious people so easily bought (and will he succeed in actually converting it)?

Saying he will fortify Sderot, forces Olmert into action, but in the end Gaydamak didn’t actually fortify Sderot, though he certainly made the news, became even more popular, and forced the government to do something while embarrassing his political opponents.

Gaydamak apparently sees his natural allies in the Amcha (the people) and the Right. It would be easy to say that he sees the vacuum in leadership that exists and sees this as the easiest opening, but as the ultimate free-market capitalist, he doesn’t see socialism in his future, and as someone who apparently seriously believes in Jewish pride (though I don’t know how he would actually define it), he apparently see the concessions and retreats of the Left as failures. And as a (former?) alleged arms dealer he certainly knows a little about war.

So the Right may be his current allies because they share the same nationalistic goals as him as well as generally being in opposition to the Left’s lingering socialism. The Religious are the standard bearers of the Right, so that puts them in the same corner, and the Amcha are looking for a solution everyone knows that a Right wing solution is the only thing this country hasn’t tried.

But, like Sharon, Gaydamak isn’t influenced by Torah or by democratic values.

What happens (to us) when, in his quest he finds conflict between his currently natural allies and what he hopes to attain. Will we find ourselves thrown to the wolves yet again by another power-hungry, all-powerful politician?

If we give him our support now, are we being bought at too cheap a price?

And if we give him our support, what will guarantee that we will remain natural allies as he approaches his goals?

I guess it comes down to what we know about him and his choices.

He likes sports (oh, OK), and specifically chose to buy a team aligned with Jerusalem and the Right. He gives a lot of money to Religious and Jewish charities.

Spending his formative years in Russia, he seems to have the standard right-wing Russian outlook on life (which usually comes with other baggage).

And perhaps his years in France strengthened his Jewish identity.

His credentials seem good (and I am nearly about to say “too good”).

But perhaps he sees Israel as his next Angola?

Perhaps he seeks the position for its influence, power and connections to build up his business? On the other hand, he certainly got Angola what they wanted.

It is impossible to know his motivations.

And whether we like it or not, Gaydamak is likely to play an important role in Israel over the next few years.

Let’s hope his role is as one of the good guys. Time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if his mother is Jewish?

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