Ahead of the Labor primaries a strategic document was compiled at Ehud Barak's headquarters to list all his strengths and weaknesses. His main strength: "Barak is the only Mr. Security who can beat Benjamin Netanyahu." His main weakness: "He is perceived as aggressive and centralist and his views on many issues are enigmatic."
This document wasn't compiled ahead of the primaries next week, but rather, 10 years ago for the 1997 Labor party primaries. This document can serve Barak today as well. His image hasn't changed, yet some of his conclusions regarding the strategic modus operandi are different.
His advisors decided to maintain the key message that Barak is the only one capable of beating Netanyahu. A good campaign is also subject to the existence of a bad man. For Barak, who was perceived by the Labor party electorate as an emotional enigma, this is a particularly important point. As someone incapable of garnering sweeping emotional support for his candidacy, he has to focus on the emotional resistance to his rival.
Barak can't touch Ehud Olmert, because he is likely to join his cabinet. There is no need to touch Amir Peretz, because his political career has already been pronounced dead. And he must not touch Ami Ayalon because such an act would highlight his aggressiveness.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, is a sure red rag to a bull. Despite his popularity among the general public there is still a separation fence standing between him and the Israeli Left. His whisper in the ear of Rabbi Kaduri, saying the Left has forgotten what it is to be Jewish, is not a slip of the tongue according to this constituency, but rather, a political divorce.
If Netanyahu is good for the Jews, he is bad for the Left. Barak's ability to look Netanyahu in the eye could redeem his sins. His determination, apathy and lack of sensitivity become assets in face of Netanyahu's determination, apathy and lack of sensitivity.
Vague messages messages to the level of a headline." He was advised to present a solid and consistent view on almost every subject. In the current elections he has opted to remain silent on every subject. During the press conference he convened in Kibbutz Sdot Yam, against a backdrop of young children, he conveyed messages written in the sand: Olmert should resign and Barak should be in his cabinet (temporarily.)
At first this strategy appeared impossible when taking into account the Labor Party's rationalist electorate. Its candidates, contrary to those of the Right, always aimed for the head rather than to the heart. Vis-a-vis nationalist messages, flying flags and sacred tombs they set opinionated messages of democratic principles, demographic considerations and territorial concessions.
The fact that Barak is continuing to soar in the polls proves that that the Labor electorate is willing to accept a candidate with vague messages not for the "love of Mordechai but rather for the hate for Haman."
Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson said that in order to be elected for the premiership the candidate must possess a killer instinct. Barak has such an instinct. Labor party members hope that he will direct it towards Netanyahu and not against their visions.
Barak's problem, as in 1997, is in the vagueness of his positions. In the former primaries his speakers suggested "refining