In the 16 years since his assassination, Yitzhak Rabin has had many successors. Who hasn't promised to follow in his footsteps? His name has been taken in vain: Rabin was murdered, and with him his legacy was murdered too. Only the anniversary makes it necessary to put back his picture - and the handwriting - on the wall.
No one knew the Israel Defense Forces like Rabin did and no one was as aware of its limitations. "We have a good army," he once said to me, "but even the best army can't offer more than it has." Later, I heard similar things from Ariel Sharon, who gradually sobered up from the intoxication with power that had drugged him all his life. Both of them were pursued by a worry: The IDF - not what you thought.
The Israeli people has changed along with its army. "For 50 years it has been flexing its muscles," Rabin said in that same conversation. "This is tiring. It is necessary to relax, if possible, and that is what I am trying to do now," he said in explanation of the change that had come over him.
Not only here but also in America the stature of leaders dwindled and they got George W. Bush. Two months from now the United States will take its soldiers out of Iraq and thus another war that looked promising but wasn't will have ended. Every war carries a promise, initially: This will be the last war, I promise you.
It was Moshe Vardi, formerly the editor of mass circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth, who phoned me eight years ago: "I want someone to write against the war in Iraq and no one is willing. They tell me that you are against it." I promised to consider it: Why should I go back to playing the role of the village idiot when all the security sages in America and Israel are certain, are sure of themselves and their lies, when all the hocus-pocus advisers know exactly where the "smoking gun" is hidden, just give them the chance to find it? As if my love for Yasser Arafat weren't enough, now they will also suspect me of loving Saddam Hussein. As if my opposition to the Lebanon war hadn't been enough, again I have not heard the beating of the wings of history and the dove.
I decided to do it. "Against the War in Iraq" was the headline. This reasoned article was not read at the White House and at Israel's defense headquarters in Tel Aviv - otherwise it is impossible to understand how that stupid war broke out, causing Iran to rejoice in the fall of its greatest enemy: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can spread his patronage over his neighbor, now that America, the spotted leopard bruised black and blue, has lost its deterrent power.
I decided to write, because the principle that even a fool is considered wise when he holds his peace does not apply to village idiots. Because if not now, when? There is no more miserable wisdom than wisdom after the fact, and what's the point of crying over blood that has already been spilled?
Care in the heart of a man boweth it down in time; anxiety in his heart crieth out at every opportunity. If in the past they shut us up because they were shooting, now they are shutting us up because they are about to release the pin; let Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak win.
A "senior security source" warns: "Discussion of the issue of Iran is a danger to the state." A tight-lipped member of the octet and the minister in charge of intelligence says bitterly: "The public discussion is grave. We have lost our marbles here." And the education minister calls for responsibility: "The national interest requires that we don't chatter." Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon are burbling after them. The regime is demanding a monopoly both on the voice and on the tone: They don't care if we talk about affordable housing, but not a word about eradicable housing. The future that belongs to all of us, in their opinion, is to be found only in their cojones.
This time it is too serious to trust the idiots alone. This time we are expecting of all of the sages, all the successors: Chatter, chatter, until they get it. Yes, lose your marbles. Don't confine yourself to a tiny chirp when the ghost train is pulling out of the station and it is not certain it will have somewhere to come back to.
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