Only a Radical Change in Direction Can Prevent Next Intifada

Apparently there is no chance that the left-center will be weaned off its way of doing things; let it ask itself: Why is there Palestinian terror, and what is Israel Defense Forces activity if not terror?

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Abbas and Herzog, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015.
Abbas and Herzog, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 18, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Isaac Herzog returned from Ramallah loaded down with impressions, and hastened to write a nice composition, with good penmanship and without his parents’ help. “Don’t worry, don’t be afraid. Be daring,” was the title of the manifesto.

The rest was even more embarrassing and childish (the only thing missing was “we returned home tired but happy,”). But within the sea of cliches, one sentence stood out: “We must prevent a third intifada. That means an uncompromising war against terror, and on that issue I’m even more extreme than [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”

Aha, the “war against terror.” Herzog will be “more extreme than Netanyahu.” He will prevent a third intifada.

Herzog owes an accounting for his cliches: What did he mean when he said that he would be even more extreme than Benjamin Netanyahu? Even more violent? Netanyahu is responsible for killing thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, and he will kill tens of thousands? During Netanyahu’s tenure there are 400 administrative detainees, and with Herzog there will be a thousand? Netanyahu is evicting thousands of people from their homes in the blazing sun, and Herzog will evict tens of thousands? Herzog roared on the way from Ramallah – who will not be afraid.

That’s not what he meant, the spokespeople will explain. Herzog only wanted to say that he will be tough in the war against terror, because without that it’s impossible to win elections – and besides, he’s in favor of “the process,” after all. But terror will never be eliminated with force, and the left-center will never learn anything and never forget anything.

The next intifada will not be prevented by means of anyone’s threats, including Herzog’s, but only through a radical change in direction, which won’t take place here of itself.

Herzog’s “process” certainly doesn’t fit that description. Cancelling administrative detentions, for example, would prevent terror more it can be prevented by elite army units. But Herzog and his friends have nothing to say about that. Is the Zionist Union in favor of administrative detention? Against? Again they are only looking for the strong man who will convince the Israelis that he will defeat terror and the Arabs in general, and once again they’re banging their heads against the wall.

Apparently there is no chance that the left-center will be weaned of its way of doing things; let it ask itself: Why is there Palestinian terror, and what is Israel Defense Forces activity if not terror? It can’t let go of the old notion that it must convince the public that it will screw the Arabs the way the right does.

If the leader of the opposition still thinks that a popular uprising is suppressed by force, that a “process” is sufficient to stop such an uprising, if he doesn’t propose a revolutionary change of values and perceptions – what do we need all this for? We’ve had more than enough of this species.

In order to “defeat terror by force” we have Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. To prevent the next intifada by means of foolish threats – “We’ll harm anyone who tries to harm us,” and “We’re prepared for any scenario” – Netanyahu will suffice. In order to explain to the Palestinians that they can achieve what they want only by force – with kidnappings, hunger strikes and Qassam rockets, never through negotiations – there’s no need for Herzog. They’ve known that for a long time.

And even in order to present a left with a security-oriented facade we don’t need Herzog – former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is already warming up on the ropes, in the role of the most desperate hope that the left has ever invented. The general of Operation Cast Lead, the man without (known) opinions, who has never said anything about anything, he is the great and only hope of the moderate camp in Israel. Can you believe it? Why Ashkenazi? Because he’s the only one with a chance to bring down Netanyahu. And why bring down Netanyahu if we’ll get Ashkenazi?

And until the propitious time arrives and Ashkenazi hatches from the egg, Herzog will play Ashkenazi’s role. He will be the commander of the left’s anti-terrorism unit. He will threaten, he will eliminate enemies, he will promise “an uncompromising war.”

It sounds so funny, and it’s so sad.

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