Barak, After All


In “Gone with the Wind”, the greatest movie of all times, there is a memorable scene: the Northern army has already overrun most of the South. Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is bringing Scarlet O’Hara home through the enemy lines. Suddenly he stops, gets down from the cart and tells her that he is going to join the beaten Southern army. Why? “I have a weakness for lost causes.”

I am no Clark Gable, but I feel at this moment like Rhett Butler did.

I have fought with myself. I have literally spent sleepless nights. Now I can no longer avoid a decision. I have made up my mind.

I shall put the Barak ballot into the box.

I respect my many friends who have decided to put a blank ballot there. But I cannot join them.

I, too, have a long list of arguments why not to vote for Barak. I have only one argument in favor of voting for him.

If I were asked to set out all my argument in favor of a blank ballot, all the pages of this newspaper would not suffice. To make a long story short: He promised peace and brought war, and not by accident.

While speaking about peace, he enlarged the settlements. Cut the Palestinian territories into pieces with “by-pass” roads. Confiscated lands. Demolished homes. Uprooted trees. Paralyzed the Palestinian economy. Did not do a thing to put an end to the daily harassment of Palestinian civilians at the hundreds of army roadblocks all over the territories. Caused a huge accumulation of rage in the hearts of the Palestinians.

Conducted negotiations in which he tried to dictate to the Palestinians a peace that amounts to capitulation. Was not satisfied with the fact that by accepting the Green Line, the Palestinians have already given up 78% of their historic homeland. Demanded the annexation of “settlement blocs” and pretended that they amount only to 3% of the territory, while in fact he meant that more then 20% would remain under Israeli control. Wanted to coerce the Palestinians into accepting a “state” cut off from all its neighbors and composed of several enclaves isolated from each other, each surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers. While agreeing é so it seems é to divide Jerusalem, did not agree to turn over to the Palestinians the crucial sovereignty over their holy mosques.

Violated dozens of articles of the signed agreements, and specifically did not implement the “third withdrawal” from all the West Bank and the Gaza strip (except “specified security locations”) nor open the four “safe passages” agreed upon. Boasts publicly that he has not given back to the Palestinians one inch of territory.

When the situation was already ripe for an explosion, he allowed Ariel Sharon to “visit” the compound of the holy mosques. When the intifada broke out, sent snipers to shoot in cold blood from a distance hundreds of unarmed demonstrators, adults and children. Blockaded each village and town separately, bringing them to the verge of starvation, in order to get them to surrender. Bombarded neighborhoods. Started a policy of mafia-style “liquidations”, causing an inevitable escalation of the violence.

Has a complete lack of empathy with the other side. Continues to treat it as an enemy. Abused and humiliated Yasser Arafat even while negotiating with him (and never uttered even one positive word about him). Got the Israeli public to hate the Palestinians and their leaders. Caused the people to despair of any chances for peace (and thus convinced them to vote for Sharon).

Treated the Arab citizens of Israel with contempt. Did not appoint an Arab minister. Was silent when the police killed 13 Arab citizens during demonstrations. Did not send the commanding officer to hell. Has not apologized to this very day.

Has shown complete indifference to every social and human issue. Has done next to nothing to minimize the social gap and treat the other social ills.

And so on and so forth. These arguments are more than enough to justify putting a blank ballot into the box.

There is only one single argument for putting a Barak ballot instead: Ariel Sharon and his gang.

There is certainly no analogy, and the circumstances are quite different, but there is some food for thought in the following:

In 1932, some months before the Nazis came to power, the German Communists helped them to remove the last bastion of democracy: the government of Prussia, which at that time controlled most of Germany as well as the strongest police force in the country. The Communists wanted to destroy their Social-Democratic competitors and did not believe that the Nazis could hold on to power for long.

I vividly remember a newsreel: the Nazis had declared a transportation strike in Berlin, in order to bring down the democratic government. They were joined by the Communists. The newsreel showed the Nazi storm-troopers in their brown shirts and the Communist “Red Front” members in their distinctive uniforms standing together in the cold night and warming their hands over an open fire in a Berlin street.

I was 9 years old, and I remember the picture.