Leftist Luminaries Criticize Cast Lead, Celebrate Shulamit Aloni's 80th Birthday

Shulamit Aloni celebrated her 80th birthday on Friday at an event in her honor which took place at Tel Aviv's Tzavta Theater.

The former Meretz politician and Israel Prize Laureate participated in a panel discussion hosted by journalist Ilana Dayan, with authors Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua and law professor Ruth Gavison. The participants discussed Operation Cast Lead.

Amos Oz explained that he called for a cease-fire after two days because that was when he realized that the reaction of the Israel Defense Forces was disproportionate.

"It should have been a pinpoint operation - and it turned into an all-out war with all the brakes off," he said.

Oz added that the next two years will, in his opinion, be the most crucial in Israel's history because, "for the first time in decades there is a possibility of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority, which, if accompanied with a peace deal with Syria, would put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and totally isolate Hamas."

Responding to Oz's comment that the IDF should have held fire after two days, "and see whether Hamas holds its fire," Yehoshua asked, "Are you sure they would have held fire? I am not. The problem was stopping Qassam rockets from falling in the south, and it needed to be done. I'm not saying it needed to be done with such brutality, with such force, but if we're talking about removing roadblocks then only if the cease-fire."

Besides the political discussion, the event also showed footage of Shulamit Aloni from her days in politics, which appear in the documentary about her life entitled "Citizen Aloni."

The movie's lighter moments included Aloni shouting at then prime minister Menachem Begin to, "stop blabbing so much and make peace."

Another showed her dancing in a conga-line after Meretz's grand success in the 1992 elections.

Another family moment showed her children asking her why they are being filmed, to which she replied, "I'll explain later."