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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The five blows that destroyed Israel's 'peace camp'

Moshe Arens describes the five events that destroyed Israel's 'peace camp.'
The peace process has suffered five successive blows that have led to a growing disenchantment of many who at one time or another saw themselves as part of the peace camp. The "shrinking left" in Israeli politics is no accident. First, much of the enthusiasm that accompanied the Oslo Accords has evaporated with the recognition that these agreements, despite the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasir Arafat, were a failure. Second, the unilateral withdrawal from the Lebanon security zone, initially a very popular move, encouraged Palestinian terrorists and resulted in the empowerment of Hezbollah in Lebanon and eventually led to the Second Lebanon War.

Third, the wave of Palestinian terror during the second intifada killed 1,000 Israelis and had to be put down by the entry of the Israel Defense Forces into Judea and Samaria. Fourth, the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, widely supported at the time, is now seen as a tragic mistake by many. And fifth, the Second Lebanon War resulted, in effect, in Hezbollah taking over Lebanon. The appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on our northern border earlier this month only served as a reminder to many of the danger threatening Israel from the north. There is also the danger from Gaza in the south. And who would want to contemplate a similar danger establishing itself in the east?

There may be many reasons for the demise of the Labor Party, but the chief one is that it has strayed from the mainstream of public opinion in the country. The party, which for years captured the mainstream of public opinion, positioned itself as the party of peace with the Oslo Accords and never recovered its position in the center. In time it became almost indistinguishable from Meretz on the far left, and these two parties are all that remains of the political left in Israel. Kadima very cleverly exploited this situation, posing as slightly left of center, the traditional Labor Party position, and cannibalized Labor in the last election.

As skepticism about the peace process grows, the most important political contest at the moment is between Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, the two major parties on the right. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu almost lost the last elections, but not to Kadima's Tzipi Livni, as she claimed, but to Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman. It was he who cut into Likud's lead in the final weeks before the election, capturing Likud votes, mainly in the south, with his insistence that the IDF should have finished the job in Gaza, while Netanyahu remained silent on the subject.
Read the whole thing and you'll understand why there is no popular support for extending the 'settlement freeze.' Current polls show Labor declining from 13 seats in the Knesset to six if an election were held today. And there is nothing on the horizon that is going to move events in the opposite direction.

The picture at the top is the remnant of one of the last suicide bus bombings in Jerusalem (bli ayin hara). It was the 19 bus and it was destroyed on January 29, 2004. A friend of mine was murdered in that bombing. The vast majority of Israelis aren't willing to risk going back to that.


At 1:06 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There is no longer a Left in Israel. Kadima is a party without an ideology. And no party that advocates massive unilateral Israeli concessions to the Arabs will be elected in the future to head another government.

Its a point lost on Israel's media and also on the foreign media. There simply is no political horizon for peace in our lifetime and more to the point, there is no peace camp on the Arab side. And Israeli Jews understand that all too well even if their leadership continues with the polite fiction, for foreign PR consumption, that peace with the Palestinians is still possible.

In short, Israel has moved on and beyond the Oslo Era.


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