Reprinted from Ha'aretz of February 22, 2001

FACING THE MUSIC

By Ari Shavit

The security situation that Ehud Barak's peace government has bequeathed to Ariel Sharon's peace government can be more or less summed up in the following manner: Hezbollah attacks on Har Dov (to which Israel refrains from responding), Tanzim attacks on Har Gilo (to which Israel is incapable of responding), a suicide attack at the Azur junction (to which Israel does not know how to respond), shots fired at Israeli vehicles on the Modi'in Highway, shots fired at Israeli vehicles on the Tunnel Road, and approximately sixty Israelis and more than 300 Palestinians killed within less than five months.This kind of security situation can only be described as close to catastrophic. It would be unthinkable to imagine such a security situation existing in any other self-respecting democracy. This state of affairs, which has not been experienced in this country since the mid-1950s, can be directly attributed to the melt-down of two concepts: The Grand Concept of Oslo and the Mini-Concept of the Withdrawal from Lebanon. In line with the Grand Concept of Oslo, it was assumed that the flooding of the land with fifty thousand AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles for the Palestinians would usher in an era of peace for the Middle East. In line with the Mini-Concept of the Withdrawal from Lebanon, it was assumed that the deployment of Hezbollah rocket-launchers along the line on which Kibbutz Menara is situated would usher in an era of peace for Israel's northern frontier.

Both conceptions are the brain-child of the same genius. The records of the Registrar of Patents documents in detail the fact that the Israeli who invented the alchemist's formula of Oslo ("If we say that this is peace and if we sing out loud that this is peace and if we keep on saying the 'Abracadabra' of peace then, perhaps, all this will truly lead to peace") is the very same Israeli who thought up the lame-brain idea of the Israel Defense Forces pulling out of Lebanon at any price ("If they defeat us, chase us out and humiliate us, immediately afterwards they will certainly leave us alone in peace").

However, this famed inventor cannot be held solely responsible for these two concepts. Granted, the outgoing justice minister did turn Israel into a country that is incapable of granting even a modicum of personal safety to its own citizens, and has gambled twice on Israel's fate and has twice lost. Granted, he still refuses to acknowledge that all his efforts have had disastrous consequences and that his mistakes have been paid for in blood and have produced hundreds of graves. But responsibility must also be shared by thousands of other Israelis - intelligent individuals occupying key positions in Israeli society - who were his partners in the scandal of these two concepts. Thousands of Israelis who are the champions of and determined crusaders for peace, are unable to muster the courage to stand up and publicly declare that they have led Israel into this situation, that they have brought Israel to the very brink of an abyss.

When prime minister Golda Meir, defense minister Moshe Dayan and the members of the elite group who surrounded them led Israel into the fire of the Yom Kippur War of 1973, they were called to account. When prime minister Menachem Begin, defense minister Ariel Sharon and the members of the elite group who surrounded them led Israel into another fire, the War in Lebanon in 1982, they were called to account. When prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert unnecessarily placed Israel on a bed of nails in 1996 over the Western Wall Tunnel, many Israelis demanded that they be called to account. However, today, when it is crystal-clear that the Oslo-Lebanon elite has led Israel into a true conflagration, has led Israel to face a wall of fire that has already scorched acres and acres of land, no one is calling the members of that elite to account. One Israeli after another has been killed and yet no one is demanding that this elite group be called to account. One Palestinian after another has been killed and yet no one is demanding that this elite group be called to account. Granted, the government has fallen, but none of its leading lights has been toppled. None of them is seen to have made any error, none of them has blundered, none of them bears any responsibility for the present situation.

The refusal by an entire stratum of leadership to assume responsibility for its actions is an ugly and extremely grave phenomenon. Nonetheless, what is needed now is not the collective deposing of all the members of the Oslo group. Nor should the elite that was responsible for the serious blunder of the two concepts, and which ruled this country with such arrogance for the past seven years, be thrown out into the cold. The political culture of public commissions of inquiry and public beheadings has run out of steam. The political culture of mutual mud-slinging and mutual exclusion has demonstrated its limits. Thus, a different kind of punishment must be meted out to those responsible for the serious blunder of the two concepts. A reverse form of punishment is what is called for. They must acknowledge that they have made a tragic mistake and they must be forced to remain where they are, to face the music, to assume responsibility. They must be full-fledged partners in a national rescue project aimed at pulling Israel out of the two minefields into which they have led it.

All this means that today, when Sharon is extending his hand in peace on the domestic front, the Israeli left does not have the moral option of staying on the sidelines. If Sharon's invitation is rejected and if, as a result, he finds himself plunged into a war with the Palestinians, this armed confrontation cannot be called Sharon's War. It will, instead, be the Oslo War - the war that was built into the absurd framework that the Oslo elite set up here. Similarly, if Sharon becomes entangled in a war on Israel's northern frontier, this armed confrontation cannot be called Sharon's War. It will be the Four Mothers' War - the war that was built into the humiliating process in which four Israeli mothers forced the country to flee from Lebanon. Thus, if war breaks out in the North, no leftist will be entitled to stand in Tel Aviv's Yitzhak Rabin Square and protest. If war breaks out in the North, no leftist will be entitled to sit and count the dead beside the Official Residence of the prime minister in Jerusalem. Because, this time around, those dead soldiers will belong to us. They will belong to the Israeli left

(c) 2000 Ha'aretz. All Rights Reserved



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