The Sharon’s New Clothes

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To paraphrase the Prophet Amos (Chapter 1):

# For three transgressions of Labor, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof:

Because of the abominable lie of Ehud Barak, “I have offered Arafat everything, and Arafat has rejected everything”, a lie that has caused the collapse of most of the Israeli peace camp.

Because of the prostitution of Shimon Peres, who has spent the last two years hobnobbing with kings and presidents, prime ministers end secretary generals, selling them Ariel Sharon as a moderate statesman and peacemaker.

Because of the blood-stained opportunism of Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who has put a left-wing trade mark on war crimes and atrocities.

Because of the antics of the whole degenerate bunch of party hacks, who have obstructed Mitzna on every turn, when he appeared at the last moment in order to save what could be saved.

Because of the spin-doctors, “strategists” and copywriters, who have watered down Mitzna’s message and turned it into a tasteless and odorless pot of porridge.

# For three transgressions of Meretz, and of four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof:

Because of its cowardice, when it was called upon to raise high the banner of peace, as the only left-wing opposition in the Knesset.

Because of Yossi Sarid’s joining the hate-Arafat chorus with the slogan “there is no one on the Palestinian side to talk with”.

Because of its boycott of the consistent peace forces and their clear messages.

Because of the elimination of the word “peace” from all its election campaign.

Because it has become a one-man-party and choked off all internal debate.

# A defeat is not always a disaster, and a victory is not always a blessing. History is full of examples of nations that were defeated and turned defeat into a blessing. They had the courage to draw the conclusions, remove the causes, rehabilitate themselves and return to the arena with renewed vigor. History is also full of examples of victory-drunk nations that degenerated rapidly and were beaten at the next test. (see: from the Six Days War to the Yom Kippur War.)

The stunning blow that hit the Labor and Meretz parties must shake them to their foundations and breed the determination to change and rebuild themselves from the foundations up.

Among all the leaders of Labor, Mitzna is the only one who can do this now. He must bear his share of responsibility for the rout, but his share is a minor one. He entered the fray hesitatingly. After initially delivering a sharp and invigorating message, he agreed to water it down. Instead of the clarion call for peace, there came the whimper about “separation” and fences.

What would have happened if Mitzna had met with Yasser Arafat in his bombed-out compound at the height of the election campaign? If the two had come out with a call to the peoples of Israel and Palestine to return to the road of Rabin? If a clear and detailed peace offer had been put up as an alternative to Sharon’s message of blood and destruction?

Perhaps even that would not have brought victory this time. But the defeat, if it had come, would have looked quite different é a wound of honor, not of shame.

# All this applies even more to Meretz. Sarid and his minions must go, a new leadership must take their place.

Meretz’ only chance of rehabilitating itself and returning to the arena lies in adopting a radical peace program, breaking with the nationalist consensus. If it opens its ranks to the real peace camp and furthers internal, free debate, together with a bold and clear social message, there is still hope. Otherwise, God bless its soul.

# All thoughts about another “national unity” government must be buried deep, deep in the ground. Even if there is war with Iraq. Even if disaster, any kind of disaster, strikes.

The uppermost imperative is to compel Sharon to appear at long last naked, without the camouflage of Peres, without the finery of Labor.

He must be compelled to set up a right-wing-nationalist-orthodox coalition, one that reflects his real plans and deeds. No more lies about his readiness to accept a “Palestinian state”, no more simulated agreement with “road maps”, no more tricks and gimmicks. He must be compelled to take responsibility for his actions, so that the public becomes aware of their consequences: the bloodshed, the lack of security, the economic disaster and social breakdown.

Then, when the right-wing nationalist-orthodox government will collapse, as expected, the people will at long last be enabled to choose between two alternatives: The road to peace and social justice, on the one side, and the road to war and desperation on the other.

The choice between two ways is the heart of democracy. The national unity government is the opposite of democracy. This, too, must be spelled out.

The peace camp has suffered a defeat. It can be turned into a blessing.

A new dawn is appearing on the horizon, and today is the first day of the next battle for the future of Israel.

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