This is one of those terribly depressing days in Mideast politics. Palestinian brother is killing Palestinian brother. Women and boys are being gunned down because their father belongs to the wrong faction. I heard a woman screaming at a peace rally today in Gaza: “Gaza is a broken worthless chair and they’re fighting over who will own the chair.” I couldn’t think of a more apt metaphor. What did she get for her trouble? Gunmen spraying their rally for an end to the violence with rifle fire. How dare these poor people demonstrate for peace when the bullies have their own agenda! “Let us kill each other for that chair, then we can talk about peace.”
In Israel, people are not being mowed down in the streets as they are in Gaza. But developments are no less dispiriting. The Labor Party has turned to an old failed war horse, Ehud Barak, as its new party leader. The hope is that he will somehow bring back that ol’ black magic. You remember the guy who failed to deliver at Camp David and Taba. The guy who Sharon trounced. Yeah that guy. Failed once, let’s give him a try again. Maybe he’ll fail again. But fail better the second time.
Thanks to Sol Salbe for pointing me to one of my favorite Israeli progressive blogs, Ha-Okets. And thanks for making me realize that when I first referred here to this blog I mistranslated its title. Sol correctly notes it means “The Sting,” an apt title for a progressive blog. Here is a portion of Itzik Sporta’s teriffically witty and caustic characterization of the Barak victory (in Hebrew).
All of this gives me the same feeling one gets when watching Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray wakes up each morning to a day precisely identical to the day before…So it is in Israel where we have been sentenced to relive the same disappointment of a bygone era with the same persons returning to us in a new/old format or old/new format. Note the example of Peres and Sharon–and with the young generation, aging before our eyes, Netanyahu and Barak.
Let me be quick to add that in Groundhog Day, Bill Murray had a sensitive intelligence completely lacking in most of the personalities Sporta lists above. Murray, after living with a seeming death sentence of days repeating themselves eternally, finally realizes that if he changes his behavior even slightly for the better his days improve too. There is no such ability among Netanyahu, Barak or Peres to change. They are the failures they always were. They will bring nothing but more failure if they come to power; with the exception of Peres who, if he wins the presidency, will retire to the presidential mansion to live out his days embalmed in the amber of Israeli political history.
If you followed the Leftist media during the time of Sharon, they kept saying that this was the type of situation they wanted;…i.e. a Prime Minister who hand-picks the Knesset members, so they won’t be subject to the force of public opinion. That is what they have now. KADIMA’s MK’s are all hand-picked, the Labor Party membership is controlled by vote contractors who sign them up in groups and tell them how to vote (e.g. The Electric Company workers, Arab villagers, Kibbutznikim, etc) none of whom are representative of the Jewish/Zionist public at large, Lieberman’s MK’s also are hand-picked, so are SHAS’s, so were the Pensioners. Again this is what the Leftist media was calling for, and this is what they got….a DICTATORSHIP. This is what picked Peres and Barak for their positions. It would seem to me to be a dangerous situation when the large majority of the population is politically disenfranchised in a country with so many existential problems.
Barak is not only an old war horse. In his primaries campaign, he asked the voters: “Who would you trust during wartime?”.
I take this as a hint that he seeks war. Together with the IDF’s hunger to “fix” the damage done in last year’s war, I fear that as a defense minister, Barak will lead Olmert and Assad (who don’t want war) to the battlefield.
Zhu Bajie says
Fail again but better: sounds like what’s on offer in the US as well.
Briefly, your Masada2000 affair, documented in the the Forward article – http://www.forward.com/articles/vitriol-proliferates-on-jewish-blogs/
Rebecca Spence | Wed. Jun 13, 2007, proved one thing, that Jewish mainstreams and sidestreets are ripe for dissolution.
We can live in peace if all ethnic and religious out of date streams will undergo serious reforms to weed out immoral members and rehabilitate all individuals to a human being.
The Palestinians and the Israelis must undergo this cleansing together. Muslim sheikhs and Jewish rabbis must learn the new enlightened philosophies of Baruch Spinoza with a 500 year delay.
Only with people of Abraham Lincoln’s character can save the suffering Palestinians and Israeli from each other barbarians.
Richard Silverstein says
Yes, precisely. This is a portion of the same Haokets post which Sol translated that agrees with you:
Richard Silverstein says
Imjudy: We don’t often agree on most things, but boy do I agree w. yr comment about the narrowness of those who lead Israel. They ARE a bunch of self-selected, insular peacocks who preen & think the world is their oyster. It’s not much better here politically, but at least our politicians seem to come fr. slightly more varied circumstances, economic backgrounds, classes, etc.
Melvin Schnell says
A couple of Perez oldies but goodies
Peres’s interview with Ha’aretz following his defeat by Benjamin Netanyahu in the May 1996 prime ministerial election:
Interviewer: What happened in this election?
Peres: “We lost.”
Interviewer: Who is we?
Peres: “We, that is the Israelis.”
Interviewer: And who won?
Peres: “All those who do not have an Israeli mentality.”
Interviewer: And who are they?
Peres: “Call it the Jews.”
How fitting, therefore, are the words of Moshe Sharett, a former Israeli prime minister, who said of Peres: “I have stated that I totally and utterly reject Peres and consider his rise to prominence a malignant, immoral disgrace. I will rend my clothes in mourning for the State if I see him become a minister in the Israeli government.” (Personal Memoirs, 1957)
Thanks for reminding us of that, Melvin. Also we should recall that the custom at the ceremonies where the Nobel Prizes are given in Stockholm and Oslo, the recepients give their speeches in their native language. When Peres, Rabin and Arafat got their “Peace” Prizes, Arafat gave his speech in Arabic, but Rabin and Peres gave theirs in English, thus signalling to the world that they apparently do not want to be considered “Jews” or even “Israelis”.
Richard Silverstein says
That’s pretty unfair, ImJudy. Peres & Rabin gave speeches in English because they are intensely aware of their need to marshal the support of the world for their country. English is a world diplomatic language & they wanted their message heard, read & understood by as many people as possible.
Your last sentence is repellant.
Herbert Kaine says
By the way, Arafat’s “Peace Prize” was looted from his vacant villa in Gaza last Friday. Please let me know if it shous up on Ebay