The Landlord's Craziness

The damage caused by Labor in the government is far greater than its usefulness.

Even during the crazy days of the World Cup, the world does not sit in the bleachers when a country cuts off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of civilians, sends its planes to threaten the leaders of a foreign country, arrests ministers and bombs the office of the prime minister of a neighboring country. How is it that when the Israeli government behaves like a country that has lost all control, the United States makes do with a routine recommendation for the two sides "to exercise restraint"? Why is the European Union silent when the prime minister says he is conducting an insane policy? Shimon Schiffer wrote on Friday in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an internal discussion that he "wants the Palestinians to understand that the landlord has gone crazy."

To make it easier to answer these questions, another two should be added. The first: Would Olmert let himself "go crazy" if Shaul Mofaz had remained in the Defense Ministry, Limor Livnat in the Education Ministry and Benny Alon in the Ministry of Science and Technology? The second: How long would it have taken for Amir Peretz as opposition leader to submit a motion of no-confidence in a government that is punishing all of the Gaza Strip because Gilad Shalit was taken captive? (Does anyone remember the names of the two soldiers who were killed? Was anyone called to account for the failure?) Who would have been the first speaker in the protest demonstration in Rabin Square? Yuli Tamir, one of the founders of Peace Now, or Ophir Pines, one of the supporters of the Geneva initiative?

Peretz and his colleagues claim that were they not sitting in the government, the situation would be far worse. Operation Defensive Shield taught us that the opposite is the case. The Labor Party served as a defensive shield for deeds that a purely right-wing government did not permit itself to do, for fear of the reaction of the international community. Then defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer did the dirty work of eliminating the Fatah government, and foreign minister Shimon Peres marketed the "there is no partner" policy in the world's capitals. When the main "left-wing party" carries out the destructive policies of the landlord, it is difficult to criticize and to restrain the government.

When it comes to relations with the Palestinians as well, the damage caused by Labor in the government is far greater than its usefulness. A year ago Labor granted its favors free of charge to prime minister Ariel Sharon, and allowed him to throw the key of the Gaza Strip into the hands of Hamas. Now the neighbors are learning that among the Israelis there is no difference between right and left, between Peretz and Mofaz. Everyone understands only the language of force. And at home - what moral validity will there be from now on to a protest of the Labor Party against a government that cuts off the electricity off hundreds of thousands of people? What political value will there be to its criticism of the policy of "verifying the killing" of the Palestinian partner?

Sharon sent his critics back to the declarations of his predecessor, Labor prime minister Ehud Barak, who stated that there is no Palestinian partner. The next prime minister from the right will send them to search in the archives for the story of Peretz's adventures in the summer of 2006. Here, he will say, your man of peace himself discovered that what one sees from here - from the war desk - one doesn't see from there - from the opposition benches. According to the last survey by Dr. Mina Tzemah, Peretz's functioning during the most recent crisis is shortening his path back to those benches. Most of the public - 62 percent - gave him a failing grade. The extent of support for the Labor Party is no higher than 15 Knesset seats.

Twenty years have passed since Labor representatives in a national unity government last presented an alternative to the policies of the right. That was in the mid-1980s, when the leader of the party, Shimon Peres, led the way to the London agreement and dismantled the partnership with the Likud after Yitzhak Shamir caused the initiative to fail. Peres' move began a process that ended in October 1991 at the Madrid conference. From there Yitzhak Rabin arrived at the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to release Israel from the occupation and gradually transfer power to a Palestinian government.

Thirteen years later, Rabin's heirs are participating in the perpetuation of the occupation and the destruction of a Palestinian government. Everything, let us not forget, for the sake of the "convergence plan." Is there any need to add - may it rest in peace?