It seems that a new wind is blowing
in the country.
week I flew to Europe. On the way to the Airport,
the taxi-driver told me: That's it, there is no hope
left. We shall never have peace with the Palestinians.
There is no one to talk with. No compromise is possible.
The war will go on and on. Therefore he will vote
remarked that if this is so, his grandchildren would
certainly leave the country. "What grandchildren,"
he replied with sorrow, mingled with pride, "My
son is an architect in Los Angeles!"
returned after five days. The taxi driver who took
me home from the airport surprised me. "All my
life I have voted Likud," he said, "But
the Likud has failed. There is no difference between
Sharon and Netanyahu. They have not brought security
but look how the economy has gone to pieces. This
time I shall vote for Mitzna."
has happened during these five days? One thing: Amram
Mitzna has won the primary election in the Labor Party.
by itself, is a stunning feat in every respect. An
introvert "Yekke" (as German Jews are condescendingly
called) without charisma has defeated an &qu ot;authentic",
back-slapping Iraqi. A dove has beaten a hawk. A political
newcomer, who has announced that he is ready to talk
with Arafat, has routed the Defense Minister, who
has tried to destroy the Palestinian Authority.
is a shining victory of Mitzna's. But it is much more.
It is a symptom of mysterious happenings in the depths
of the national consciousness.
the last two years, while the cycle of atrocities
got wider and wider, I was often asked how I managed
to remain optimistic, while everybody around lost
all hope. I answered that one day, in a week or in
five years, the public will wake up in the morning
and exclaim: "Enough! This can't go on! A solution
must be found!"
good will that do?" the doom-sayers would say,
"There is no politician around who could lead
the country towards peace."
demand will create the offer," I answered, "When
there is a demand for such a leader, he will appear
think that this forecast is beginning to be realized.
The currents beneath the surface of public consciousness
are changing. The IDF conquers, occupies, kills, "destroys
the terror infrastructure", and the Palestinian
attacks do not stop for a moment. The regular declarations
of Sharon and Mofaz start to sound like self-parody.
For the first time, "simple" people realize
that there is a close relationship between the intifada,
the economic crisis and the social emergency.
does not cause the public to love the Palestinians
or to get enamored with peace. Not at all. But it
causes it to look for a leader with vision, who will
try sincerely to break out of the bloody cycle and
find a solution. The settlers are "out",
compromise is "in". Amram Mitzna has appeared
at the right place, at the right time, with the right
the slogan must be: Full Steam Ahead!
cautious peace activists say that we should not ask
for too much. One has to look at the public opinion
polls. Mitzna cannot beat Sharon. But he can overhaul
the Labor Party in opposition, and that is also important.This
is a mistake. The polls photograph the situation on
the ground. They do not see what's happening underneath.
There, new currents are flowing. Therefore, the aim
must be: victory.
a victory of Mitzna over the Sharonyahu looks like
a miracle. But that's how a victory of Mitzna over
Ben-Eliezer looked a month ago. It will be difficult,
very difficult. But it is possible. All efforts must
be made to achieve it.
to all the polls, the gap between the two big blocs,
the right and the left, is quite small even now, before
the public has grasped the full impact of what happened
in the Labor Party. Something like 65 against 55.
Which means that it is enough to capture five-six
seats in the Knesset in order to achieve an enormous
is no alternative to victory. For the future of Israel,
the saving of human lives and the reconstruction of
the state, the difference between Mitzna and Sharon
the hour has not yet struck, and the Likud wins after
all, the struggle must not be stopped for a moment.
If Sharon or Netanyahu win, they will head a narrow,
divided and fragile coalition, unable to solve any
problems. It will be torn between the need to please
Bush and the need to appease the extreme right wing
of Lieberman-Eytam. Since things under their leadership
will go on deteriorating, it can be brought down within
a year and then the big reversal must be effected.
any thought about an effort to set up a "national
unity" government after the election is dangerous.
No doubt Sharon will offer Labor seductive terms for
joining. In the language of the Mafia: "An offer
they can't refuse." But Sharon is Sharon and
will never change. In order to remain true to himself,
Mitzna will have to refuse. Even if his job-hungry
and unprincipled colleagues urge him to accept.
aim must be: a total reversal, all along the front
and in every area. Nothing less will suffice.
Amram Mitzna may disappoint us. Let's not forget the
enthusiasm with which we welcomed Ehud Barak, who
led to disaster. He may break on the way. That can
also happen, and we must be ready for it. But it is
reasonable to expect the opposite. A person can grow
in the job and fulfill the mission history has placed
this moment, ecce homo.
Avnery has closely followed the career of Sharon for
four decades. Over the years, he has written three
extensive biographical essays about him, two (1973,
1981) with his cooperation. Avnery is featured in
the new book, The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal
article has been reprinted with the permission of
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