"Peace is too important to be left to the
politicians," one could say today in view of our current election
Since Baraks announcement that he is resigning in order not to
resign, strange things have been happening. They have a common
denominator: Peace does not interest the politicians, but serves as a
convenient election gimmick.
Like a ghost he appeared from nowhere, created havoc and returned to
nowhere. In the meantime he sprinkled cliches around himself, in which
Peace figured prominently. He will save Israel and bring Peace. What
peace? Peace with whom? Peace how? He did not say. Then, suddenly, he
went away, taking his Peace with him, to be recycled another time.
In the middle of this tumult, facing the Netanyahu threat, Ariel Sharon
plastered the country with the slogan "Only Sharon can bring Peace".
Sharon? Peace? Hard to imagine anyone less suited. His handful of
admirers laud him as the man of experience. Experience indeed: The
killing of civilians beyond the border by Unit 101; the Kibia massacre,
the wholesale slaughter in the Gaza strip, when every "terrorist"
caught alive was executed on the spot; the Lebanon war; the massacres of
Sabra and Shatila. Thats lot of experience. But this vast experience
does not include even one act of peace, not a single speech indicating a
real interest in the subject. When Begin went to Camp David, he relied
on Weitzman and Dayan, leaving to Sharon only the job of destroying the
town of Yamit.
Let me inject a personal note: When it became apparent that new
elections were in store, I suggested on TV that a third candidate should
be nominated. I repeated that suggestion in this column. The idea was
political: (1) To present a suitable candidate able to attract the votes
of all the Arab and Jewish peace camp voters, (2) To make a second round
necessary, and (3) To throw our support behind the candidate who would
adopt a clear policy for peace and equality.
When I made this suggestion, I was not thinking of Peres. I was
thinking about a more humble candidate, either Jewish or Arab, man or
woman, to fulfil this function. Not as a gimmick, not as a trick, not as
an ego-trip, but as a serious effort to consolidate and mobilize the
power of the real peace camp.
And then, suddenly, Peres appeared on the scene. Deus ex machina,
Peres out of the public opinion polls. Peres does have peace credentials.
He played a major role in the Oslo process. But please remember that in
the meantime he has already served as Prime Minister without furthering
the cause of peace. Quite the contrary, he started a new war in Lebanon
and killed the Hamas "engineer", with all the bloody
consequences. And during the Camp David summit he tried to outflank
Barak on the right, publicly criticizing his (virtual) concessions
concerning Jerusalem and the settlements. Therefore, it seems that peace
served him as a gimmick in order to take revenge on Barak and to prove
that he is not a serial loser.
Even during his desperate struggle to obtain the blessing of Meretz,
Peres did not elaborate on his peace plan: not about Jerusalem, not
about the Green Line, not about the settlements, not about the refugees.
It was all a political and personal game.
At the height of the Peres-Barak controversy, they each pretended to
be the leader of the "Peace Camp". The way they use the term,
it is an abstract, virtual body, neither Peace nor Camp, much as the
"Left" is not left, but rather a trade union of politicians
exploiting the fear of the Right. Indeed, each of them boasts that he
can defeat Sharon as if the issue is defeating Sharon, rather than
His main effort now is the new "peace process". He has no
chance at all of winning this election if he does not present to the
electorate an agreement with the Palestinians. Only such an agreement
will bring the hundreds of thousands of Arab and Jewish peace-seekers to
the ballot box, and without them he will lose. For him, peace is not a
consuming passion, but a means to an end - winning the elections.
Is this enough to achieve an agreement? Common sense says no. But one
should not belittle the immense determination of a politician to survive
when faced with disaster. The German philosopher Hegel spoke about the
"cunning of reason". Peace may use even a strange instrument
like Barak. As they say in Yiddish: "If God wills, even a
broomstick can shoot."
Thats a faint hope and blessed be the believer.
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