Five Comments on the Situation

As someone who has done his share of raking Shimon Peres over the coals when he was a hot shot, and the politicos in his party were sniveling at his feet, I think I have earned the right to say to those who are now criticizing him - get off his back!

1. As someone who has done his share of raking Shimon Peres over the coals when he was a hot shot, and the politicos in his party were sniveling at his feet, I think I have earned the right to say to those who are now criticizing and mocking him - get off his back! He may be 80 years old, but he is still the peppiest, smartest, most on-the-ball guy in the whole fossilized institution known as Labor.

He reads more than they do, he is known and admired by more leaders around the world than they are. Even more important - to his good fortune and the sorrow of his detractors - he's got a much better brain in his head. It's true he has four offices, but what can he do if he's a former prime minister, director of the Peres Institute, chairman of the Labor party and, as of now, opposition leader - and each of these jobs comes with an office?

His party comrades are bursting with envy, as if any one of them would give up such perks. They say he's power-hungry. And they're not? But you can't argue with facts - he's the one on top. Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who rehabilitated Germany after World War II and helped it regain its place among the family of nations, retired honorably at the age of 87.

Peres was elected temporary chairman but denied the right to run for prime minister. Labor's movers and shakers will live to regret that day. Can't they see that Ehud Barak is paving the way for a comeback?

2. The symposium on the failure of Camp David held last week at Tel Aviv University never got down to brass tacks - determining who really screwed up. In the years since Camp David, blame has been tossed around like a hot potato. For Barak and Clinton, it was convenient to blame Arafat. After all, they offered him most of the territories and he turned them down in 60 seconds flat.

But the real culprit is Clinton. Muddle-brained from listening to Barak sound off, he didn't understand that you can't resolve a century-old conflict with some half-baked scheme and a couple of slaps on the back. President Carter's greatness lay in the fact that when he invited Sadat and Begin to Camp David, he already had hundreds of drafts and alternative proposals lined up on the table in case of a snag. Clinton helped Barak "unmask" Arafat, and instead of an agreement we got an intifada in which more than 800 Israelis have already died.

3. Even a great brain like the president of the Supreme Court needs to know when irony is appropriate and when it isn't. Such a time is when he tells Knesset members at an event organized by the Israel Democracy Institute, if you don't like the judges, don't replace them; pass laws to keep them in check. You don't want us meddling in Judea and Samaria? Pass a law. You want us to keep our nose out of military affairs? Pass a law. Unfortunately, our Knesset does not have much of a sense of humor. The MKs might take these proposals literally - and even vote for them. Twice.

4. If our "forceful" dismantling of the outposts is meant to provide a good show for the White House, maybe we can fool Bush, but we can't fool ourselves. We may get there via the road map or via an imposed solution, but there is no escaping the fact that we will have to evacuate dozens of settlements. Before we demand that the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state, it is imperative that the settlers, their rabbis who incite them in the name of Jewish law, and their commando of lunatics, must recognize that it exists and accept its authority. Minister of Infrastructure Joseph Paritsky is right in proposing that Jewish residents of the territories be resettled in the Negev and the Galilee. If the government doesn't prepare contingency plans for enforcing its will on the settlers, a bullying minority will end up dragging the majority into living by the sword for all eternity.

5. President Bush is hell-bent on fighting terror. He has already designated 50 targets around the world, including Syria and Iran. What Bush wants more than anything is a flashy victory that he can use to launch his election campaign. Now that America's triumph in Iraq is starting to show cracks, with the liberator turning into an occupier and U.S. soldiers continuing to die, Bush is looking for success in our neighborhood. But with the Palestinian Authority afraid to take on the terror organizations, it won't be long before he moves his election booth elsewhere, and Abu Mazen becomes the father of the next Palestinian opportunity to go down the drain.