Yossi Peled is publicly known as a good guy, in the good sense of the word. This ought to be emphasized, because there are plenty of good guys in the bad sense of the word. It's always pleasant to meet Yossi, friendly fellow that he is. Wish there were more like him. His life story evokes sympathy and empathy - a small boy who was rescued from the Nazis and fled to the shores of the Land of Israel. In time he became one of the most important, high-ranking commanders of the Israel Defense Forces. His reputation precedes him.
After his retirement from the army 15 years ago, unlike many of his colleagues, Peled never found a home in politics. Perhaps he didn't want it, perhaps he wasn't wanted. Perhaps it just didn't work out. Public life in Israel is saturated with major generals and brigadier generals. Peled's absence was never noticed, and his name only popped up when contenders needed the backing of decorated military men. Now they are being gathered frantically, even in the unharvested corners of the field. Some of them have even swapped parties and contenders before every new elections.
This is pretty much what happened to Peled. Since he is a nice guy, he found it difficult to say no. When a contender in need or under pressure asks for something nicely, it's not nice to say no. Thus Peled wandered from one party and its candidates to another. There hasn't been one, it seems, where he hasn't made a quick stopover.
In 1996, Peled ceremoniously joined the Likud and supported Benjamin Netanyahu. Three years later he announced "I made a big mistake" and joined Ehud Barak and One Israel. Another three years went by and Peled declared his support for Amram Mitzna. Last week he rediscovered the new Netanyahu.
Every man has a right to change his mind, and obviously Peled changes his often. Even without debating the acuity of his senses, there is some difference among Netanyahu, Barak and Mitzna. If Netanyahu is very close to the settlers' world, Mitzna is closer to Meretz's. Had Peled gone into athletics, no doubt he would have been crowned Israel's champion in a triple jump.
When he walked out on Bibi Netanyahu 10 years ago, he slammed the door behind him. Peled wrote him: "I doubt whether you can understand what loyalty means, what friendship means ... How dare you lead us to perdition, how dare you deceive me ... You are a huge disappointment, you broadcast panic, lack of leadership, lack of personal and public integrity ... You have no friends, you have no God but yourself."
Wow! "Leading us to perdition." Such a letter was unheard of in these parts. But last week Peled explained that "Netanyahu is today another person, who has learned from experience."
It is still not clear what Netanyahu learned from his and our experience. It is clear, however, that Peled, in his wanderings, hasn't learned a thing. He is not only a candidate for the triple jump championship: He has a good chance of winning the gymnastics' cup: No one has seen such magnificent backward flips and double twists.
In Peled's opinion, Netanyahu must have undergone a complete metamorphosis: Bibi is no longer Bibi. He is someone else, who only impersonates Bibi when necessary.
When necessary, the new-old Bibi has no problem floating fabrications, as in the interview he gave Yedioth Ahronoth last weekend. Is it Peled's fault if Bibi insists on picking generals out of season? Indeed, Peled was in his element during the recent Lebanon war. There he was, every evening on television, sending out the troops, accompanying them on all fronts, advancing all the time.
Israel did not hold its breath upon hearing Peled's insights. They were basically no different from the rest of the has-beens' advice. The army emergency stores may be empty, but the has-been stores are filled to bursting, with supply outstripping demand.
Hence the yawns that greet the Netanyahu-Peled maneuver. The public no longer wants a devalued coin, realizing at last that what's on offer is more of the same. Maybe Netanyahu is wrong again, and the public is tired of this musical-chairs game, accompanied by a scratched old record. It's time that the pensioners, with their worn out uniforms and suits, left. Eyes are now raised toward the next generations.
We would like to see Netanyahu and the rest of the graying party leaders present new figures, rather than renewed ones, who have suddenly been revisited by God. Before they move themselves out of the way, let them present us with people of 30 and 40 years old, who already have a reputation in their field. Give us a young cadre of teachers and scientists and community workers, and middle-ranking reserve officers who were sent out, exposed, on dangerous missions by clueless people in war rooms, with the useless comments of TV newsrooms to spur them on. Enough of the useless old team with the tired old blabbering. It's high time to pass the baton to a team that is heading for the future.
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