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Hebräische Buchstaben im Spiel
Zeitung in einfachem Hebräisch
Jüdische Weisheit
Translation of an article to be published in Ma'ariv

by Uri Avnery / o4.o1.o1

A Gimmick named Peace


"War is too important to be left to the generals," said Georges Clemenceau, the French premier during World War I. He knew what he was talking about, even if he did not know Shaul Mofaz and Bugi Ya’alon.

"Peace is too important to be left to the politicians," one could say today in view of our current election campaign.

Since Barak’s 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.

Peacemaker Netanyahu
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.

Peacemaker Sharon
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. That’s 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.

Peacemaker Peres
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 making peace.

Peacemaker Barak: 
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."

That’s a faint hope – and blessed be the believer.

Get this article in Hebrew

Gush Shalom

ua / hagalil.com / 11-01-2001



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