Friday, December 23, 2005

Short interview with Uri Avnery 2002:
The current Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, he refers to as a ‘completely worthless person’. The former Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, he dismisses as a crook: ‘I am not afraid of crooks. I am afraid of men like Sharon.’

He has more respect for Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, whom he refers to as ‘serious men’. The latter he feels is deeply amoral in the pursuit of his goals and has no interest in making any settlement at all with the Palestinians. On the contrary, Avnery believes that he wants war with them. He sees Sharon as the last leader of a movement for Jewish liberation, the élan of which is dying out.

Surprisingly Avnery is optimistic about the chances for peace: ‘A product of my age and my temperament.’ He sees the Israelis as basically having no choice but to make a deal with the Palestinians, even though he thinks 90 per cent of the population would like a country without any Arab population at all. But he also feels it will take a strong break with the past to accomplish it. He is fond of quoting Lloyd George’s famous phrase that ‘one cannot cross an abyss in two jumps’.

In a new article, Avnery discusses Sharon and his wrecking action on Likud:

YESTERDAY, WHEN I was walking in the street, someone shouted after me: "Hey, when are you joining Sharon?"

"Why would I do that?" I asked him.

"Because he is implementing your plan!" he answered triumphantly.

This illusion is gaining ground. Many Leftists, who have spent the last few years luxuriating in a warm and comfortable despair that releases them from any duty to stand up and fight, have now found an even more agreeable solution: Sharon, the man of the Right, will realize the dream of the Left. One has only to vote for Sharon, and then the longed-for peace will come. No need to make any effort, to struggle, even to lift a finger.

Thus, miraculously, we come back to Sharon's original formula: to annex unilaterally 58% of the West Bank, not to conduct any peace negotiations with the Palestinians and to keep the whole of Jerusalem.

In the meantime, Sharon (through his Minister of Defense, who has now followed him out of the Likud) is distributing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of building permits in the settlements, continuing the construction of the wall, destroying Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and maintaining the blockade of the Gaza Strip. His continuous silent effort to undermine the position of Mahmoud Abbas is already bearing fruit. But who cares, when the intoxicating music of the flute is befuddling the senses and the brain of so many peace-loving Leftists?

It's an extraordinary feature of politics, the capacity of people to believe in illusions.

The real danger lies in the set-up of Sharon's party itself. It has no ideology but Sharon. No program but Sharon. No plan but Sharon. This is a party of one leader, committed to nothing. His word is its command. He alone will compose its list of candidates. He alone will draft the party program - which will be irrelevant anyhow, since Sharon alone will decide what to do at any time.

Sharon has never been much of a democrat. Right from the beginning, he has had a profound contempt for parties and politicians. He was and has remained a foreign body in the Knesset. From his early youth he has been firmly convinced that he must become the leader of the people and the state, since he, and he alone, is the one who can save them from perdition. He did not see himself as a leader bound by all kinds of democratic nonsense, like Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians, but as a free agent, released from all bonds, able to fulfill his historic mission: to fix the borders of the Jewish State with the maximum possible area.

He does not hide his intention to change the political system of Israel and to establish a presidential regime. In Israel, a country with neither a constitution nor a strong parliament like the US Congress, such a system means one-man rule. If he succeeds in winning a decisive enough victory in the coming elections, he may be able, with the help of a few bribed lawmakers, to change the laws of the country and turn himself into an all-powerful president - for four years, for seven, for a lifetime.

This danger would not have been so real, if the Israeli democracy had not lost its inner strength. The politicians are detested by the public, the big parties evoke loathing, political corruption has become proverbial. In such a crisis, the public tends to long for a strongman. The man from the Sycamore Ranch is only too happy to oblige.

Only one thing is certain for anyone who knows the man: he will never abandon his historic aim: to annex as much territory as possible, with as few Arabs as possible. He has executed the Disengagement Plan with utmost vigor not in order to bring peace, but to realize this principle.

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