Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Regarding "A Ben-Gurion model and an Abbas reality", IHT, August 13, 2003 ( A shortened version was published in IHT, August 14, 2003 ): Not only do today's non-leaders on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides of the conflict's dividing lines lack essential leadership qualities such as vision and undisputed legitimacy, they also are rather 'estate-builders' than state-builders. Whereas the name of David Ben-Gurion has become almost synonymous with an austere, Spartan lifestyle, we are regularly confronted with reports about the considerable personal fortunes that Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon and other members of the Palestinian and Israeli leadership, their relatives and trusted confidants have accumulated and are still managing. In addition, both Sharon and Abbas lack the will and power to risk civil war within their respective societies, rather than endangering the very existence ( or possible establishment, in the Palestinian case ) of a nation-state for their own people. This is why Sharon has not seriously confronted the settlers yet and why Abu Mazen has not shown and probably will not show any earnest efforts to finally enforce his authority. It would be too much to ask these days for leaders of the calibre of Ben-Gurion ( who was far from perfect, had dictatorial habits but also a wall-to-wall authority, and his concept for the wellbeing of 'his' state was his highest personal priority ), but the least we should expect from those determining our daily lives and our children's futures is a certain level of altruism, and concern for the fate of the people that they pretend to govern rather than for their own financial interests.

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