Face the Nation

You don't have to be Arthur Finkelstein, the spin doctor currently working with Shaul Mofaz, to understand that Ehud Barak's compulsive pursuit of Tzipi Livni has turned the foreign minister into an eagle with widely spread wings. One of the defense minister's associates says Barak not only understands that he is bringing Livni closer to the prime minister's bureau but that is exactly what Barak - known to be an expert at taking watches apart - wants to do.

He believes that in two or three months, after Livni is behind the steering wheel, the refugees from the Labor Party in Kadima will discover that she has no idea where she is taking them, whether left, right or stationary. The higher she moves up the ranks, the more dramatic will be her fall and Kadima's crash.

In other words, Barak is planning to "reveal the real face" of Israel's most popular politician. The last time Barak attempted this exercise, it was Yasser Arafat, and his success surpassed his wildest expectations. According to a study published in the latest issue of a journal on educational issues, Megamot, Barak's version - according to which he revealed "the bluff of Oslo" - pushed the public much further to the right than did the terrorist attacks.

Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University's School of Education and Dr. Eran Halperin of Haifa University's School of Political Science show that the violence that erupted on September 29, 2000, does not alone explain the huge change in public opinion, especially among the doves and centrists.

Surveys conducted during the first intifada indicated that support for a Palestinian state actually went up during that period. Even during the terror attacks in the mid-1990s, there was no change for the worse in Israelis' readiness for territorial concessions.

On the other hand, research by the two in March 2002 found that 53 percent of people who had changed their position on the amount of trust to be given the Palestinians mentioned as the first reason the Palestinians' choice of terror to achieve their goals. The researchers note that this opinion was transferred to the public by Barak.

Some 24 percent noted that the first reason for the change was the Palestinians' rejection of Barak's proposals at Camp David. According to the researchers, in this case, too, the public relied on what Barak had told it. Barak claimed that he had offered the Palestinians the most he could, but that Yasser Arafat refused to accept the deal because he sought to wipe out the State of Israel through the return of millions of refugees.

Barak also claimed that Arafat had planned the intifada even before he left for the peace summit, and in this way underscored his inclination toward terror.

The researchers were puzzled by the story of "the real face of Arafat." Among others, they quote the head of the Shin Bet security service at the time, Avi Dichter, who said in March 2006: "I don't accept the thesis about a multistage plan on the part of the Palestinians, headed by Arafat, for the second intifada." Dichter said that neither Arafat nor those who started the intifada knew there was going to be an intifada.

They also mention what the head of Military Intelligence at the time, Amos Malcha, said in June 2004: "Nowhere did I say that I accept the conspiracy theory according to which Oslo was a plot to destroy Israel."

Bar-Tal and Halperin conclude: "According to our analysis, it can be assumed that similar information ... transferred to the public by the leader of Likud would have met with a high degree of suspicion on the part of those who supported the peace process. What the leaders of Likud were not able to do to the peace camp for many years, Barak and his partners succeeded in doing in a relatively short time."

A significant part of this camp, which bought the story of Arafat's "real face", followed in the footsteps of Ariel Sharon and accompanied him over to Kadima. Now Barak hopes to bring them back to Labor with the help of "the real face" of Livni.

Two right hands

The last lap of the summer session pulled the Knesset to the right. A total of 16 legislative initiatives that limit human rights were passed. This could not have happened without Labor's help.

Judging by the list of laws approved in the last 50 days of the summer session, the right-wing parties do not have to bring the elections forward. The Knesset and government function as two right hands. Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On counted 16 legislative initiatives whose common denominator was damage to human and civil rights. Most of the initiatives were passed with the assistance of Labor.

1. An amendment to the civil damages law concerning the removal of state responsibility for damages caused to residents of the territories during the latest intifada - "the intifada compensation law" (a government-proposed law initiated by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann that passed its first reading)

2. An amendment to the criminal code that frees the police from having to document interrogations of suspects in security cases (a government-proposed law initiated by the Shin Bet; passed in second and third readings)

3. The "Dromi law", which absolves from criminal responsibility someone who uses force against an intruder to his property in cases of self-defense (initiated by Yisrael Katz of Likud and other MKs; in second and third readings)

4. The "referendum law," which stipulates that a referendum must be held, or a majority of 80 Knesset members must vote in favor, with regard to comprehensive diplomatic agreements such as giving up territory (David Tal of Kadima and others; in first reading)

5. An amendment to the Basic Law on the Knesset (in the wake of the Azmi Bishara affair), which negates the right to be elected to the Knesset of someone who has visited an enemy country without permission (Esterina Tartman of Yisrael Beiteinu; passed in second and third readings)

6. A temporary injunction extending the validity of the Citizenship Law that prevents the reunion of Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians from the territories

7. A prohibition on holding mourning ceremonies in memory of people who carried out terrorist acts (Nissan Slomianski of National Union; in a preliminary reading)

8. The cancellation of citizenship and permanent-residence status for families of terrorists who are Israeli citizens (Slomianski; preliminary reading)

9. Cancelling pension rights from MKs suspected of crimes against state security, known as the "Bishara law" (Zvi Hendel and David Rotem of National Union, and other MKs; in a preliminary reading)

10. An amendment to the Entry Law to Israel ("The Vilnai law" or "the infiltrators law"), which makes it possible to detain infiltrators for 96 hours before bringing them to court, to jail people seeking refuge for up to seven years, and a variety of other sanctions (from the government; in second and third readings)

11. Prohibiting the participation of artists who have not served in the Israel Defense Forces or done national service from appearing in performances funded by the state (law proposed by Israel Hasson of Yisrael Beiteinu; in a preliminary reading)

12. The distribution of land belonging to the Jewish National Fund to Jews only (Uri Ariel of the national Union, Zeev Elkin of Kadima and other MKs; passed in a preliminary reading with a majority of more than 60 votes)

13. An amendment to the citizenship law which transfers authority for negating citizenship from the Interior Minister to the courts (Gilad Arden of Likud; passed in second and third readings)

14. Revoking burial fees from families of terrorists (Gideon Sa'ar of Likud; first reading)

15. The jailing of illegal fighters - a law that makes it possible to keep a member of an enemy force in jail without trial until the cessation of hostilities between Israel and that force (proposed by the government and passed in second and third readings)

16. Pardoning people detained during the Gaza disengagement and anyone against whom an indictment was served then (Reuven Rivlin of Likud; passed in first reading)