I had two conversations the day after the prime minister's speech. Ran Cohen phoned and asked how people like me are supposed to feel, when even Benjamin Netanyahu has already uttered the two forbidden words; then the legendary taxi driver - vox populi - who picked me up from my house also asked how I was feeling. Contrary to my opinion, he said, my daughter, who is now a doctor, voted for you. She was right and I was wrong, I won't take money from you for this trip. Just explain to me, he asked, what did they actually want from you all those years, and why did they portray you as traitors? Had they listened to you, we could have paid less; now the Palestinian state will cost a mint.
In spite of that, I paid the driver his due; we always pay in the end.
For me it began in 1970. The secretariat of the Alignment party (the forerunner of Labor) convened for an initial discussion of the future of our relations with the Palestinians in the territories. Everyone was present, all the bigwigs had their say: Golda Meir and Israel Galili, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres - they were imbued with a messianic spirit. They raised a plethora of ideas, variations on the subject of Greater Israel, each idea more foolish than the next; history has already made a mockery of them.
I was also given the floor, for the first time in my public life. There will be no solution without a Palestinian state, I said, trembling. For a moment there was silence, of the kind following a terror attack, even before the cries of the wounded and the sirens of the ambulances begin. They detested me. Since then, like an ass, I have not changed my mind; how boring, how petrified, how uncreative.
So how do I feel now? Not good. Is it because of personal frustration? A little. It's hard to overcome the instinct that asks: How does it happen that it's the blind ones in the chimney who run the show, while former MK Arie (Lova) Eliav writes his memoirs? How did the "eyeless in Gaza" come to lead the herd? Do I feel sad? A little. It's nice saying you feel sad, to be sad is a spiritual experience. Is it happiness, or regrettably, schadenfreude? A little. Nobody is totally free of the dreaded "I told you so." Mainly I feel anger. Yes, I'm the man whose anger is burning inside him. I went to search for a kingdom and I found asses; I lived among you.
What do I care that Netanyahu and his ilk are belatedly approaching a situation that has become a given, when most Israelis already support what is self-evident? I care, because the sun and the moon did not stand still just because Golda and Peres commanded them to do so in the Alignment secretariat 40 years ago. Many thousands have paid with their lives, and nobody can bring back the dead; even the living have been drinking from the cup of poison from that day until now. Israeli society asked for water, and was given black milk.
I care because I saw Netanyahu during his speech, and he looked like a baby with a hot dog stuck in his throat ¬ about to choke in another minute - his parents slapping him on the back in horror until he spits out what he was unable to swallow.
I care and my anger has been doubled: According to that speech we'll continue to bray and drink, drink and bray, for at least another 40 years.
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