For more than thirty years we observed the political arena from the vantage point of the consistent Left, and we were in a constant state of waiting. As a rule we were split into two, more or less, equal sized camps: There were those who dreamt about external intervention, primarily from the US that would extricate us from the political paralysis that afflicted us; others believed that more and more Pinkos are listening to us secretly, are internalizing our message and in the end will understand and will act.
Our need to be relevant was so great that we acted like Rabbi Yehuda from the Passover Hagada, and we assigned them codes. After the medieval times of Golda Meir that inflicted a major disaster on an entire generation, we hoped that there will be an awakening. Feverishly and optimistically we searched, without any realistic justification, for some signs of political sanity and willingness to recognize the Palestinians, like those geologists that were looking for signs of oil in the Negev.
We searched for the non-conformists in political movements that could form governments or at least could join them and this way make some real decisions, at an executive level. Each time the “current redeemer” changed most of us were fooled to believe that he will provide a new message. In other words, we dreamt that only a worn politician from the Labor Party that participated in the Governments of “Earth-Day” and in the massacre of October 2000, and who gave a hand to Golda’s government and to Right Wing governments of “National Unity” will suddenly become a flesh of our flesh. We yearned not only for a Peacenik but rather for a broadminded person whose membership in organizations like the Socialist International will commit him to something. Yitzchak Rabin said (1974) that he is willing to travel to Gush Etzion with a passport. So it was clear that he should be anointed king, even if he supported Richard Nixon, the Apartheid and the breaking of bones of Palestinian demonstrators in the territories. Didn’t Shimon Peres receive Amos Oz’s support? Didn’t Ehud Barak receive Amos Oz’s support? So who are we to complain. I am not even talking about Amram Mitzna and, at times, even Haim Ramon. The doubters among us were considered irrelevant. They demanded from us to give not only our vote but also our soul to charlatans, masquerading as hawks that are masquerading as doves. Whoever protested was dismissed as a con-artist, and believe me, I am talking out of very rich experience in the area of con-artistry.
Most of the Pinkos, not only in politics but also in the media usually reach correct and right conclusions only when they have already lost every bit of influence or any chance to shape a decision making policy. During the last few weeks I read enthusiastic appraisals of the book of a certain journalist that arrived, in the year 2005 to the daring conclusion that Jerusalem must be divided. At the beginning of my career in “Kol Hair” I interviewed him in a different context and he told me emphatically that Jerusalem should not be divided. I tried to explain to him that there is no choice but to divide the sovereignty over the city and that all the efforts towards peace will fail if a reasonable solution to the Jerusalem problem will not be found. He smiled with obvious contempt, with the same facial expression that he now directs toward his critics from the Right. What seems to most these Mapai”niks today as an obvious thing was then (1986) very controversial and those supporting it were considered marginal. For example, support for a Palestinian State, dialogue with the PLO and recognition of Yasser Arafat as well as mutual recognition between the two peoples, the dismantling of settlements and the division of Jerusalem. I am not criticizing my colleague for changing his views and adopting our views on these topics. Its just a pity about this critical delay in internalizing the centrality of Jerusalem in any negotiation with the Palestinians. This delay caused the conflict to deepen and the settlements cancer to spread everywhere and to poison every good lot. This is the way we reached, really not through our own fault, at an irreversible situation. We all talked nonsense at one stage or another of our lives and in am not excluding myself or other people sharing my views from this assertion. However, the people of the Pinko center ruled this country even before they committed ideological bankruptcy, but they still did not lose their arrogant stance even today. Whoever is waiting that they will pull the chestnuts out of the fire for us is misled and misleading. Time is working against peace activists, and the leaders of the Pinko peace camp who were able to gather in the not so distant past hundreds of thousands to their demonstrations, can attract today at best only a few thousands, many of them people from the consistent Left.
A short reminder: Its only four years ago (!) that the author Amos Oz went to the Meretz Council and convinced its members to support Ehud Barak. What exactly happened to Meretz? A few months after Barak orchestrated Ariel Sharon’s provocation on Temple Mount and the massacre of Arab citizens primarily in the Galilee, Yossi Sarid and his comrades broadcasted to more than one million Arabs in the country that their fate is not their concern and it also does not constitute a factor determining their voting. In the meantime it became clear that Barak is the bottom of the barrel for any liberal person, and I am not even talking here about Left wingers. This man deliberately sabotaged the Peace process, pretended to offer “compromises” in order to convince the public that there is no one to make an agreement with. He spoke about the Arabs in a genuine racist style during a thundering and well covered interview to an important American newspaper.
So instead of learning a lesson from the Barak affair, many of us were seduced by Mitzna. My best friends came to his defense when I attacked him here and in other places. In the end the man became one of the leaders of the Barak camp that is now flanking the Likud on the Right. I do not demand from anybody to draw conclusions from this story. It is clear from Mitzna’s record that he is a genuine Centrist, a moderate nationalist and a personal and ideological friend of variety of entrepreneurs. However, Peaceniks not less committed than I am needed hope in a murky and scary world. I confess that I don’t have an answer to an obvious question: If all these Pinkos will not advance the cause of peace and equality in the country, who will then stop the settlers and their friends? Its clear that it is necessary to try and convince other people, but one should not present them as an integral part of the left. Belonging to a certain political category has rules, and a member in the Prime Minister’s Coalition, for example, cannot be our leader.
It is even difficult to see the leaders of the Pinkos as the heirs of the Historic Labor Movement. They remind one of the apparatchiks of the General Zionists of the time who at the end of a long process merged with the Herut Party and established the Likud. I am not talking only about opinions or moods but rather about a real and complex consciousness that shaped the awareness of these people in the past and which does not exist any more. There is no “Davar” there is no “Al Hamishmar”, there is no public economic force, there is no complete life circle that includes the Youth Movements of Labor Israel, schools of the Workers Stream, a General Sick Fund, the Red Flag, the Socialist anthems (Te’hezakna and the International) and the values of mutual responsibility, not to mention their institutionalization. To this fairly familiar thesis I would like to add another important dimension: If we are talking about a life consciousness and not only views, then it is actually the settlers and their supporters who managed to build an alternative structure to that of the Labor Movement, hence their resilience in a difficult struggle over their very survival.
It is not an accident that the orange stripes are seen everywhere because they are carried by the spirit and strength of an entire movement, rather then by individuals who underwent a process of “atomization” in the established cities. The settlers and their supporters have newspapers, songs, radio stations, a solid economic infrastructure, well endowed public budgets, lands, settlements, regional and national organizations, logistics, emissaries in the army and in the police, organized and fanatical youth as well as collaborators in all the branches of the ruling establishment. During the past few months I was reinforced in my old contention that the old elites pose no moral or political challenge to the political and ideological undercurrents that adopted the three main ethos points of the Zionist movement: Another dunam and another goat (Labor movement), Torah and Labor (Religious Zionism) and Greater Israel (The Zionist Right). The struggle between the extreme Right and the National center is mainly about the continued existence of a secular state with a Western orientation on one hand and fundamentalism that draws its power from the ruins of the democratic dream on the other.
Many are laughing at Bibi Netanyahu, the ambivalent opportunist, the power hungry yuppie. In my opinion he experienced a real personal and ideological tragedy. He reminds me more of Hamlet than of Nixon. His burning desire to become both the implementer of a neo-con American dream and at the same time a zealous nationalist like his father cannot be realized in Israel. He could have been a very successful Senator in Alabama who would provide Christian-biblical phraseology to the greed and power based ambitions of the Super Power. But Israel, as a tiny client of the United States is small on him. This madness of Revisionist Grandeur is not suitable for a small State, and Netanyahu’s efforts to pay back the old Map’ai establishment for the rigid attitude they displayed toward his father , Prof, Ben Tzion Netanyahu are quite pathetic.
The complexity of the political reality here is enormous and the polls only reflect half truths. It is possible that a big majority of Israelis supports the disengagement and see in it a necessary step on the way to a final agreement. Included in this majority are also liberals who do not believe in Sharon’s peace arrangements but who think that dismantling settlements in Gush Katif and the Northern West Bank will be an important precedent. They believe that it is necessary to defeat the extreme Right and to impose on it democratic processes. But this silent majority is less organized and its commitment is very personal. Its national mood is mainly dependent on Piguim (terrorist incidents) which in all likelihood will return.
In my opinion we are still going to long for 2005.