Barring unforeseen circumstances, Israelis will next Tuesday elect the worst government in the history of the state. They will do so without being offered a political platform or a program for socio-economic renewal. The ruling party's leaders are making do with hollow slogans along the lines of "we'll continue fighting terror" and "painful concessions." They are even preparing the public for further cuts in the budget and more suffering for the poor, as if it were all by divine decree.
The main opposition is also treating the rise in terrorist attacks and the political crisis as they were forces of nature and not forced upon us by failed policies. As unemployment rises and growth receeds, it behaves as if it's all a natural disaster, not the by-product of the failed policy. Its criticism of the prime minister and his party focuses on corruption scandals.
From what some of the opposition's leaders say, it seems they would be satisfied if the state attorney would close the files so that Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Ephraim Sneh could charge up the hill to the door of the Sharon government, which is fallaciously labeled a "unity government."
This bizarre phenomenon of the main opposition party freeing the ruling party from responsibility for the deterioration in every area of national life, has a simple explanation - most of the candidates in the realistic slots on the Labor Party list were partners in shaping the policies that led to the deterioration, and they helped execute and market such policies.
If Amram Mitzna had not emerged from Haifa to run for the party leadership, Foreign Minster Shimon Peres would be explaining how Sharon's statement that "the Quartet is nothing," were "taken out of context." Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer would be coming up with excuses for why the IDF has not been ordered to evacuate the Uzeri family and dozens of other lawbreakers who have grabbed land they don't own.
They claim Mitzna failed because "he veered left when the public went to the right." But less than four years ago, Labor led by Ehud Barak overwhelmed the Likud headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. The state of the country then was 10 times better in every respect than it is now.
Moreover, two-and-a-half years ago, that same "rightist public" was supporting a withdrawal from most of the territories and the division of Jerusalem. Despite what he called media exaggeration about what Barak was ready to concede, former American envoy Dennis Ross has said in interviews that the day after the Camp David summit, "there was complete silence from the Israeli public."
If belonging to the Sharon government is Mitzna's hunchback, then Barak is its hump. No Labor leader has the integrity to smash the myth the Likud spread with Barak's help - that he "exposed the true face of Arafat" at Camp David. They don't have the courage to admit that the failure at Camp David had more than one father.
If the "leftist activist" Amos Oz believes that Sharon definitely won a victory - "the Palestinians are now asking for what they rejected at Camp David," as he said in the Jan. 10 Weekend Magazine of this newspaper - what should the masses of undecided voters think?
Labor should have been delighted to have found a sucker who is ready to give up sitting in government so as to do the boring work of rehabilitating the party. Instead, Mitzna's "colleagues" have no shame and are claiming he isn't "taking off" in the polls. How can he take off carrying baggage in the form of a party that sold out on its principles? Who among them can erase in just two months their two years of sycophancy.
Instead of helping Mitzna erase the memories of their disgraceful partnership in the "unity government," they are undermining him in hopes of crawling into another Sharon government. Instead of preparing the public for dismantling settlements, they are busy preparing to help a right wing government in its settlement push.
Instead of rebuilding confidence with the Palestinians, they are destroying confidence in the democratic system. With millstones like these, the best of political astronauts couldn't soar very far.
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