Here are the facts:
- Only 59.1% of the citizens who
had the right to vote did actually vote. Out of these, Ariel Sharon
received 62.38% of the valid votes. Meaning: Altogether Sharon
received the votes of only 35%, just a little more than a third of
- He acquired these votes on the
basis of his main slogan: "Only Sharon will bring peace".
Meaning: His spin-doctors, reading the public opinion polls, have
decided that thats what the public wants more than anything else.
- While the candidacy of Shimon
Peres seemed viable, all public opinion polls gave him about 50% of
the vote. In the public eye, Peres is identified with the Oslo
agreement and the "new Middle East".
- 15.4% of the eligible voters
did not go to the ballot box at all, in addition to the 25.5% who
did not go the last time. The difference consists wholly of the
members of the peace camp, both Jewish and Arab. To these there must
be added the voters who did go to vote but put a blank ballot into
the box, as well as those who (like myself) decided at the last
moment, in spite of their opposition to Barak, to vote for him as
the lesser evil. Meaning: The hard core of the peace camp, located
to the left of Meretz and Peace Now, includes 20% of the public. The
politicians have ignored this sector for years, as have the media,
who have failed to report its actions. In the future, no candidate
of Labor-Meretz will be able to win an election without this bloc.
The simple truth is that its
not the people who elected Ariel Sharon. Its Barak who caused him to
How? During the recent months he
repeated over and over again: "I have turned every stone. I have
made immense concessions. I went towards the Palestinians further than
any former Prime-Minister. But instead of accepting my proposals, the
Palestinians have opened fire and are killing Jews. The sly, scheming,
corrupt Arafat, whose company I do not enjoy, has broken all agreements.
The Palestinian side is not ripe for peace. We have no partner for peace."
Nearly all the Israeli media have
turned themselves into government propaganda organs and have repeated
this false argument as a self-evident truth. The public drew the logical
conclusion: if there is no partner for peace, lets vote for Sharon.
How to explain Barak? Easily: his
heart is right-wing, his mind is left-wing.
"Right" and "left"
are not a matter of opinions, but of character. The rightist character
is authoritative, power-hungry, pessimistic, past-oriented. The leftist
character is liberal, compromising, optimistic, future-oriented.
Barak is an intelligent person,
and understands, therefore, that there is no other way than compromise
with the Palestinians. But his rightist character does not allow him to
offer a reasonable compromise, and all his bearing style of speaking,
body language, form of behavior are anti-peace.
This inner conflict, a real
cognitive dissonance, explains the apparent zigzag movements that have
become his trademark. It explains why this famous general was unable to
decide on a long-range strategy on any subject - and stick to it.
* He decided that he needed the
orthodox Shas party in order to have a majority for peace. But at the
same time, knowing full well that education is the most important
preoccupation of Shas, he gave the education ministry to Yossi Sarid,
the bete noir of Shas. Some measly millions for the Shas schools
and the ridiculous fight over the prerogatives of the Shas deputy
minister of education caused Shas to leave the coalition. Exit Shas,
exit the grand strategy.
* When he lost Shas, Barak raised
the flag of the "civil-secular revolution". Thus he lost
forever the support of all religious and orthodox voters. But since he
did not implement a single one of the promised secular steps, such as
the calling up of yeshiva (religious seminary) students, Barak did not
gain any secular votes either. Exit the secular revolution, exit the
* He wanted as broad-based a
coalition as possible, but after receiving practically all the votes of
the Arab citizens, he treated them from the outset with manifest disdain.
He did not appoint an Arab minister, neither did he visit Arab villages
and towns. When policemen killed 13 Arab citizens, he did not dismiss
the commander, nor did he put any of the policemen on trial, nor did he
even apologize. Exit the Arab votes.
* He asked for the cooperation of
the Palestinian security services in the prevention of guerilla actions,
but at the same time enlarged the settlements at a murderous pace. Every
Palestinians saw with his own eyes how his village was being surrounded
by settlements, how his land was cut into pieces by by-pass roads, how
homes were demolished and trees uprooted. The mounting public anger of
the Palestinians encouraged the Jihad, Hamas and eventually Fatah to
undertake guerilla actions. Enter settlements, exit security. (All the
settlers voted for Sharon).
* He put the peace negotiations
on the top of his list of priorities, but entrusted the job to rank
amateurs, retired generals, Shabak (secret police) personnel and a
lawyer versed mainly in commercial negotiations. None of the teams
included anyone who really understands the Palestinian condition and is
able to deal with the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Enter the
generals, Ben-Ami and advocate Sher, exit the negotiations.
* He decided, quite rightly, that
Yassir Arafat is the partner for peace, but from the first moment on
treated him as an enemy, humiliating him at every opportunity, speaking
about him in the most negative terms. At Camp David he did not meet him
in private, even though he was staying 100 meters from his lodgings.
Exit understanding with Arafat, exit the partner.
* He told the Israeli public that
painful concessions are needed to achieve peace, and at the time boasted
repeatedly that he had not given back even one inch of territory. Exit
the confidence of the left, without gaining the confidence of the right.
* And most importantly: He
decided that the final status agreement with the Palestinians would be
the trump card of his government, to be played in the next elections
and/or referendum. He did indeed make some verbal concessions, but his
"red lines" ("I shall not sign an agreement giving
sovereignty over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians
I shall never
allow any Palestinian refugees to return
80% of the settlers will
remain in settlement blocs that will be annexed to Israel
unacceptable to the Palestinians. He agreed to "give" to the
Palestinians a state composed of truncated enclaves, demanding that this
be recognized as the "end of the conflict". Exit the
agreement, exit the elections.
In the end, Barak fell between
all the stools. He was routed, and the peace with him.
It seems as if we have returned
to square one, to the days before Oslo.
Many feel like Sisyphus, the
tragic hero of Greek mythology, who was condemned by the gods to roll a
heavy stone all the way to the top of a hill from which it always rolled
It s e e m s
so, but it is not so.
True, the stone has rolled down
again and again. But, in our case, it does not roll all the way to the
bottom. It does not roll to the place where it stopped last time. Every
time the new effort starts much higher up than the previous time.
Barak can declare a hundred times
that "all the understandings are null and void", perhaps in
order to land a job in Sharons government, but the ideas that were
lodged in the minds of millions of people cannot be abolished by decree.
In the last year and a half, the
Israeli public has become used to the idea that the Jerusalem will be
divided and that the Eastern part will be returned to the Palestinian
people. The debate about the necessity of establishing a Palestinian
state is over, and the real discussion about the solution of the refugee
problem has begun. The idea of an exchange of territory has taken hold.
All these are now the starting-point of the next step.
We are now starting to roll the
stone from this point - to the top.
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