Friday, April 23, 2004
In case you wondered what the score to date is in the deadly game between us and our nearest neighbors, we already have a winner: us! At least, that is what Ari Shavit thinks. Today we read that Israel's unemployment has reached an unprcedented 11 %, that someone who used to be a minister in the Israeli government - and who is a paediatrician by profession - decided or was forced to become involved in drug smuggling ( in order to make a decent living? ), and that the results of what would not have been the pinnacle of democratic decisionmaking to begin with possbibly will be ignored alltogether, as our beloved Prime Minister suddenly seems to have discovered things such as public and moral commitment, as opposed of course to legal and contractual commitment. Still, on the same day Ari Shavit declares us the winners in the conflict, as we have "gained the upper hand". At least he admits that we still have to be cautious: Palestinian terror has not been eradicated, and Palestinians still have to undergo a "revolution in awareness that is the only thing that will make it possible to put an end to the conflict". I am afraid that I also have to undergo some revolution in awareness: I am not sure whether Mr Shavit and I have been living in the same society for the past decade, and his description of reality is often at odds with the way I am perceiving things. He is right, it seems that militarily Israel is winning the war against the Palestinians. In my view it would be a disgrace if we were losing, with all the expertise, human resources and money that we spend on killing those that are fighting us ( and those who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ). That most Israelis - even though they won't tell you so openly - are still anxiously waiting for the mother of all revenges ( either here or abroad ) is irrelevant here, as Hamas has proven to be unable to carry out any major attacks anymore, or hasn't it? Economically, we are supposed to be leaping forward and to believe in ourselves once again. Doesn't Mr Shavit think that in order for the national economy to seriously start growing again we need foreign faith in our financial and economic capabilities and prospects more than faith in ourselves? A good example is the tourism industry. It is true, hotels and other accomodations are full again during the holidays, but pumping our own money into our own industry is like treading water economically: very little cash comes in from abroad. What impressive diplomatic achievements does Mr Shavit see? That President Bush decided "to shut out the option of the Palestinian right of return and to abolish the sanctity of the Green Line"? Has anyone explained to Ari Shavit what the international standing of Mr Bush is? Being endorsed by him is worth about as much as the endorsement of Howard Dean by Al Gore. "Prime Minister Ariel Sharon deserves quite a lot of credit for the victory that is in the offing. He is the one who conducted the military campaign patiently, wisely and calmly. He is the one who conducted the diplomatic campaign with impressive talent. " What campaign, what patience, what wisdom? Yes, Arik S. has given proof of considerable talent, a talent to survive politically by talking without acting, by now and then threatening to quit, by carrying out perfectly timed military actions that create headlines that push away those regarding his own financial-legal escapades to some small column on the bottom of page five of the newspapers. Giving him credit for 'the victory' would mean that he had a plan, a vision, an all-out strategy. If he had, his greatest talent must be that he has been able to conceal all that from us. Ari Shavit's conclusion - and although I have my doubts about the way in which he reaches it, I agree with him here: "...in the final analysis, the limited Israeli victory is not the victory of Sharon. It's the victory of the Israeli individuals who have withstood the supreme test in recent years. It's the victory of Israeli civil society, which knew how to maintain a sense of proportion and a sense of reality even in times of terror. [...] These Israelis are the real heroes of the present war. In their abrasive way, they are more impressive, wiser and even more moral than all their critics. They deserve to win."
Posted by Bert at 10:49 AM