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Hebräische Buchstaben im Spiel
Zeitung in einfachem Hebräisch
Jüdische Weisheit
Translation of an article to be published
in Ma'ariv on December 12, 2000

by Uri Avnery / 1o.12.oo



I feel that I am being blackmailed. I don’t like to be blackmailed.

When Ehud Barak decided to commit the coup d’etat against himself, he assumed that he has my vote in his pocket. My vote and the votes of all the members of the peace camp, both Jewish and Arab.

Since the Arab citizens of Israel alone count for more than 10% of the vote, and the whole camp counts for 15-20%, Barak has no chance at all of being elected without us. But he is sure that all of us will vote for him, as we did a year and a half ago, when he promised us peace.

If so, I would like to tell him with all due respect: Please, Mr. Prime Minister, don’t count on me. And I would strongly advise you not to count on most of the peace camp. We will not help you for a second time to pretend to be a peace-maker.

In your typical arrogance, you tell yourself: They must vote for me. They have no choice. After all, they can’t vote for Sharon!

You are so sure of that, that you dared to spit in our face. In your long (and quite superfluous) resignation speech, you went back to the Red Lines which you took to the Camp David summit meeting, and which led to disaster: No going back to the pre-1967 border; 80% of the settlers will remain where they are, in "settlement blocs" that will be annexed to Israel; Not a single refugee will be allowed to return to Israel; A greater Jerusalem with a big Jewish majority, which will be recognized by the world. (The formulation of this last point contains a slight change.)

So what, shall we vote for Sharon? Of course not. But there is always another option: to abstain.

All my life I have objected to a white ballot. I continue to object. But if the only choice is between the man who went to the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) causing hundreds of fatalities, and the man who sent him there accompanied by two thousand policemen, a white ballot seems the only way out.

But fortunately, there is another option. Actually, there are two.

One is that the dovish members of the Labor party will pluck up courage and, at the last minute, overthrow Barak as party chief and nominate a reasonable candidate. Amnon Shahak-Lipkin, for example, or Uzi Bar’am, Yossi Beilin or one of the others. Every one of them is better than the man who has succeeded, in one and a half years, to destroy all of Rabin’s achievements.

True, that is a theoretical option only. The doves of the Labor Party lack the courage of their convictions. They are good only at blah-blah, intrigues and talk-shows. In the eye of the storm, when the time comes for decisive action, they are just not there.

That leaves us with the second option, which, to my mind, is the better one: to put up a third candidate.

At first sight, this seems like a bad idea. A third candidate? But he cannot win! He can’t achieve anything.

That’s quite wrong.

The third candidate must be a person, upon whom all the diverse elements of the peace camp, Jewish and Arab, can agree. As he has to be a member of the present Knesset, the choice this time is limited. If Meretz joins the initiative, he can be a MK of Meretz or one of the Arab MKs.

After 52 years, the nomination of an Arab citizen for the office of Prime Minister would be a sign of health for Israel. (After all, 60 years ago the far-right Zionist leader, Ze’ev Vladimir Jabotinsky, proposed that in the future Jewish state, if the President is Jewish, his deputy should be Arab – and vice versa.) The Arabs, like the Jews, will find it difficult to agree on a candidate, but it must be possible, considering that no segment, Jewish or Arab, has to give up its independence.

Such a candidate will receive between 10% and 20% of the vote and create the need for a second round. This will be the great hour of the peace camp: It will offer its votes to the candidate who unequivocally proclaims the principles which will form the basis of peace: Termination of the occupation within a given time; Recognition of the State of Palestine; The pre-1967 border (with the possibility of small exchanges of territory); Return home of all the settlers; Jerusalem the capital of the two states; A just solution of the refugee problem to be agreed between the two sides.

If one of the two major candidates publicly accepts these principles, he will receive our votes and become the next Prime Minister. If nobody does, we will abstain in the second round. In any case, it will show that the peace camp, which includes Jews and Arabs, is a formidable political fact, which cannot be ignored. That is more important than the election results themselves.

This could be the peace camp’s finest hour.

Get this article in Hebrew

Gush Shalom

ua / hagalil.com / 12-12-2000



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