Text size

The horizon has a familiar optical quality. The closer you think you're getting, the more it recedes. To avoid disappointments, the best thing is to stay where you are so that the horizon always seems at arm's length, or at least not further away.

For decades now, the term "political horizon" has been an inseparable part of the Palestinian dictionary. Without a political horizon, they will start an intifada, without a political and economic horizon, they will remain our enemies.

U.S. officials simply fell in love with the expression when the president, his secretaries of state and members of Congress all demanded that Israel do something to give the Palestinians some sort of road map. If they only knew that five years from now, 10 years from now, they would have a state, they would quietly sit and wait.

We, of course, don't need a political horizon. We have a state, a reasonable economy and a leadership, which, if we don't like it, can be replaced democratically. We're not like the Palestinians, who haven't cultivated an alternative leader to Mahmoud Abbas, who can only choose between Fatah and Hamas, and who have failed to persuade the world to recognize their right to an independent state. We have abundant political parties, a variety of ideologies and an impressive gallery of leaders from whom we can choose the most worthy.

So why do we feel trapped, on the verge of suffocation? Why are we the ones seeking a political horizon? What's the source of this paradox in which we're marching in place while the horizon recedes?

The simple explanation is that we don't have more than the Palestinians. How many ideologies do we really have to choose from? How many suitable leaders do we really have to choose from? As in the lottery, every so often a lucky ball skips across the screen before popping like a soap bubble. A few weeks ago it was former TV anchorman Yair Lapid, who made a few impressive somersaults, unleashed a stream of empty watchwords and photographed well, not unlike an Ayalon Highway billboard, all colorful and flat.

After that, we were given the poignant election for that special-needs class known as Kadima. Everything has already been said about this party's sickly pallor, which sparks about as much enthusiasm as a flatline on a hospital monitor. Shaul Mofaz wants to be prime minister, and that's fine. He wants to be a social leader - great. But what does he have in his political-horizon suitcase? Is he willing to concede the territories? Dismantle settlements? Maybe a few outposts? A powerful magnifying glass will reveal that the difference between him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the way both men treat the Iranian threat. One wants to attack now, the other later on.

Threats are excellent merchandise - whether it's Iran, which is threatening us and forcing us to choose a heroic leader, or Israel, which is threatening Iran and seeking a chief-of-staff-type leader. Iran can be pleased that it has become a plank in Israel's electoral platform, a test of leadership. It's much easier to talk about Iran than the Palestinian problem. Iran isn't demanding land, withdrawals or concessions.

And what about Labor Party leader Shelly Yacimovich? She wants to be prime minister? She doesn't want to be prime minister? While we've heard she has a party, it seems her party hasn't heard of her. This is the whole inventory, the full extent of Israel's leadership horizon.

The truth is, no matter how we look at it, we're left with one leader. Not just for now, but for the foreseeable future. And in Israeli terms, that means forever. A national, proud, steadfast leader, the kind who knows how to keep us a set distance from the horizon. A leader who knows how to place the state above the citizen, who can explain the threats or invent them. A leader who schedules the seasons: summer for an attack on Iran, winter for economic corrections. A leader who has dwarfed every alternative, who has destroyed even the aspiration for change. Under his leadership, we don't need anyone in the crow's nest shouting "Land ho!"

That's how it is here. As in Turkey and Iran, we too have a supreme leader. It's a shame we're not allowed to ask the Palestinians to offer us a political horizon.