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.