Agreed since when? I believe that there was an understanding between
them right from the beginning of the election campaign, in which they
accused each other of leading towards national catastrophe. Two weeks
before the elections I was quite sure of it. Invited to the popular TV
talk-show "Politica", I said that these elections will decide
whether Mr. Barak will be Prime Minister with Mr. Sharon as Minister of
Defense, or whether Mr. Sharon will be Prime Minister with Mr. Barak as
the Minister of Defense. The moderator, Dan Margalit, repeated this
sentence with some astonishment. (A week later, Barak appeared on the
same show. Margalit quoted my remark and asked for his reaction. Barak
replied that he does not want to comment on it, but to talk about peace,
security and blah-blah-blah.
Baraks part of the deal is an
exercise in power-hungry cynicism and a breach of the voters trust.
But that is not the main part. Basically, Barak has arrived where he
really belongs. He is the right person in the right place: Ehud Barak,
Minister of War for Sharon.
He once compared himself to a
sailing boat zigzagging in order to reach its destination. The media are
absorbed with the zigzags, but they are not important, the destination
is. The zigzags included the futile peace talks, which were never
serious, the simultaneous hectic building of settlements, the demand for
the "end of the conflict" and the beginning of the war. Now he
has arrived at a new harbor: the war government.
Sharons part of the deal is no
less cynical. Two weeks ago he branded Barak and Peres as traitors
selling the country to the enemy. Now he buys the routed Barak and the
pathetic Peres on the cheap, in order to present the image of a moderate
government and gain the trust of the world, while preparing to deliver
his big blow at the right time.
Sharon and Barak are no strangers
to each other. They have come from the same place, received the same
education, pursued the same career and share the same world-view. The
"general staff commando unit", commanded by Barak, was the
continuation of the "commando 101" unit commanded by Sharon.
When Sharon started his bloody adventure in Lebanon, Barak was in charge
of army planning.
This will be a military
government. It will be dominated by the three generals: Sharon, Barak
and Shaul Mofaz, the most political chief-of-staff in Israels history.
The government will also include generals Vilnai and Ben-Eliezer. The
civilians in the government will be subordinate. They are a pitiful lot
anyhow: from the bickering dwarfs of Labor and the Likud up to Shimon
Peres, who desperately holds on to office and is ready to lend his Nobel
prize certificate to Sharon as a fig leave.
In no Western democracy is there
a government in which generals play such a central role. If one is
looking for examples, one has to search for them in South America and
Africa. "The only democracy in the Middle East" is, in this
respect, close to some other Middle Eastern countries.
We are now entering a dark tunnel.
The Palestinian war of liberation will intensify, and so will the
brutality of the occupation. The vicious cycle of violence and revenge,
uprising and oppression will become worse. The difference between the
radical-rightist Likud and the moderate-rightist Labor Party will be
reduced still further.
Many good human beings, ours and
theirs, will pay with their lives. There will be blood, pain,
bereavement and invalidity. There will be another price, too: many of
our best boys and girls will look for a different kind of life in
countries which have a normal civil society. Tens of thousands, who are
already there, will just not come back. Religious fanatics, war-happy
types and extremist converts will take their place.
Perhaps this is a phase that we
must go through. Perhaps, as a people, we are just not yet ready for a
normal life. Perhaps we are condemned to remain in the valley of
darkness until we are fed up with the path of war and phony
"national unity", and are ready to pay the price of peace.
The government of the generals is
a recidivist relapse into a malady, which we believed we had overcome.
We are turning our back on the 21st century, a century of
civil society, science and hi-tech, and going back to the 20th,
the century of murderous ideologies and war.
"Can two walk together,
except they be agreed?" asked the prophet and went on: "Will a
lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey?"
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