In this issue of Outpost, we publish an article by Ari Shavit (page 10) describing the way recent Israeli elections have been protest votes ("anyone but the incumbent") and explaining this by the "double-barreled curse" under which Israeli Prime Ministers now operate -- the direct election of the Prime Minister, which shattered Israeli parliamentary democracy, and the Oslo agreement, which destroyed the state's strategic stability. But there is a third, equally important, curse Shavit fails to mention, and it is one of each Prime Minister's own making -- the curse of false promises of peace.
Rabin promised peace within a year when he was elected in 1992: that absurd promise trapped him into accepting the Peres-Beilin secret negotiations with the PLO, for he saw no other way of delivering on that promise. Netanyahu spoke forthrightly about Oslo's threat to the state's very survival -- until he campaigned for prime minister, when he abruptly switched course to promising "Peace with Security." His pursuit of "peace" resulted in the Wye territorial giveaways to Arafat. Many of his disillusioned supporters turned to Barak, who again promised peace. His efforts to produce it have turned all but the Israeli Arabs and the most delusionary Jewish leftists against him.
Now Sharon, with his slogan "Only Sharon Can Bring Peace," and his promises in his campaign speeches around the country that "we will be able to reach peace -- but true peace," seems to have learned nothing from his predecessors. Lies about bringing peace are destructive of both his candidacy and his subsequent ability to govern. As a candidate, if he promises peace, he must have a plan to achieve it. Sharon now speaks of a Palestinian state on 42% of the territory of Judea, Samaria and Gaza: Barak can rightly point out that the Palestinians will not make "peace" on this basis if they have already rejected his own offer of 95% of the territory. Once elected, having promised peace, voters can quickly reject him, as they have his predecessors, for failing to deliver. The promise also increases the potential for international pressures on him: after all, you have to make compromises to achieve peace.
Sharon seems to accept the conventional wisdom that the Israeli public will only vote for a leader who feeds their addiction to the infantile cotton candy of "peace." But as Shavit rightly points out, Israelis are not voting for Sharon, they are voting against Barak. Member of Knesset Limor Livnat has observed that hostility to Barak is so high a broomstick could win against him. That gives Sharon the enormously valuable ability to be honest, to say -- as he did so eloquently in 1993 -- that Oslo was a catastrophe and that Israel's only chance for survival was to rebuild her deterrent strength, deny Arafat any further concessions, and bring the full might of Israel against him for any violence. He will still be elected and once elected, despite the double-barreled curse, he might actually have a chance to govern, free of the worst curse of all -- a dishonestly promised peace.
Nine American Jewish organizations deserve to go down in infamy. They are the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, American ORT, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform), the Federation of Reconstructionist Synagogues, Mercaz USA (the Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement) and the Jewish Labor Committee. Each of these organizations voted to forget Jerusalem -- they voted against keeping Jerusalem the united capital of the Jewish state.
When a meeting of the Conference of Presidents (of Major American Jewish Organizations) was called to vote on a representative of the Conference participating in the carefully non-political march for Jerusalem organized by Natan Sharansky, these organizations voted against doing so. In effect they cast their voices for dividing Jerusalem.
Because the Conference of Presidents operates by "consensus," this meant that although a majority of the organizations present voted to participate, the Conference could not do so. Much praise is therefore due to Ronald Lauder, president of the Conference, who went off to Israel on his own to participate in the march. To the shame of American Jewry, he had to emphasize that he was there as an individual, not as representative of the Conference of Presidents. We are sure he felt amply rewarded by the words of Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert at the march: Olmert declared that while there were many celebrities present, "Mr. Lauder was the most important person there."
How low can you go? On his return, several
(Continued on p.11)
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Outpost - 2 - February 2001