The big question is not over the need for a salvation front, but rather over who is to head it. The person most worthy to stand at the head of the front to rescue Israel from itself is that leader who is least arrogant and most troubled. At last week's official memorial at Mt. Herzl for Yitzhak Rabin, it was clear who this was.
The most memorable thing about that ceremony was the forbidding face of the president of the state. This was not the Shimon Peres who gives flight to the creative imagination and sings the praises of his people. Not the Peres who infects you with excitement for the great things that are happening here. This was a very troubled-looking Peres. His face expressed, perhaps for the first time, what most of us feel: that we can't take it anymore.
If Peres wants to go down in Jewish history as a great leader he cannot afford to stand idly by. Peres is the only man capable of slightly deflating the pumped-up egos leading the political camps to the left of the religious-right bloc. He is the only one whom none of those egos would presumably feel insulted to stand behind.
Would it be too much to expect Ehud Barak, Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz and Zahava Gal-On to beat a path to the president's door and ask him to lead them, to lead us, as the head of a front to save us from ourselves? Are they so full of themselves as to be incapable of setting themselves aside for a moment? Imagine, if you will, what a great personal example of humility they would set with such a step. There is nothing this nation needs more than a little humility and perspective, a diminution of the ego. There is nothing this nation needs more than a seasoned guide to preach a bit of morality from his authoritative pulpit. The belated return of a leader who rises above himself, whose finest hour is precisely his late hour, is not foreign to history. Such things have happened before.
I am certain that Peres and the few remaining survivors of his generation no longer have the strength to look Israel's desperate condition in the eye or to acknowledge the terrible cultural and moral decline taking place here, and that as a result they cling to every flickering of the light unto the nations in order to justify their insistence that "af al pi khen..." that despite it all ... But then I saw the ashen face of the president at the memorial ceremony for the murdered prime minister and I said to myself, he not only sees, he is also horrified. I thought about what was going through his mind, whether he truly could give himself a pass to waste his term in ceremonies when it was obvious that even at this late hour, for him and for us, there was a chance that he, and no other, could still change the collision course.
I thought that perhaps precisely because of the unrealistic dimension within him and his generation, precisely because their visionary power took precedence over reality, there was some possibility of his imposing that vision on the voters on the day of judgment. By sheer force of spirit, I thought, by the same incorporeal force that powered Zionism in its early days, the last of the "spiritual" statesmen could persuade this nation, the nation in which the genes of visionaries beat, that the dream is still realistic.