The Power of the Truth

Kadima and Labor need to quit their petty scorekeeping over what they can achieve collectively or separately. All of that is based on surveys that only estimate the chances of one lie over another.

Here is an idea good only until the end of this weekend. By Sunday, when the list for the Labor party primary closes, it will be too late. We will find ourselves locked yet again in an election campaign that pits lie against lie.

The idea is establishing a big party committed to the truth.

A moment before we sink into another round of vacuity in the name of democracy, we can still draw a line through four decades of denial, double-dealing and deception, and build another kind of politics - the politics of truth versus falsehood.

This idea is addressed first to Tzipi Livni. She could be the leader of the truth brigade. So go ahead, Ms. Livni: You, too, pick up the phone to [Meretz leader] Haim Oron. He is not a man with an inflated ego. If you decide to join forces, he will step aside for you.

But the idea is also aimed at Ehud Barak. Please, Mr. Barak, don't just stand there. Get Haim on the line and talk to him about the broad-based truth party that Amos Oz and David Grossman, Ophir Pines, Ami Ayalon, Yuli Tamir and Michael Melchior want to create together with him and his colleagues.

As speakers of the truth, you - Livni and Barak - are no less worthy than these principled people. You, Tzipi Livni, have long been conducting courageous negotiations with representatives of the Palestinians to find a permanent solution to the conflict. Yet when the time came to face the public and report truthfully on what has been, and can be, achieved, at that very moment your courage failed.

Ehud Olmert, who is past caring what voters supposedly want to hear, laid it all out on the table this week, prettifying nothing. "We will have to give up Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and return to the territorial core of the State of Israel before 1967," he said, "albeit with amendments to account for changes that have occurred in the meantime ... If we want Israel to remain a Jewish democratic state, we have no choice but to surrender some parts of the homeland, however painful it may be ... If we dally, we are liable to lose support for the idea of two states for two peoples."

But you, Ms. Livni, out of ostensible electoral considerations (that are actually an insult to the voters' intelligence) went back to the doublespeak of the bad old days: "I am committed to the Kadima platform ... which establishes exactly what the principles are ... We can negotiate my way without getting into the issues described by the outgoing prime minister." And so on and so forth.

Stop already, for God's sake. Tell us the truth. We are old enough and sophisticated enough to hear the unadulterated truth from those who seek our trust. Enough with the devious formulations of Golda Meir and Yisrael Galili, adopted by their heirs and passed down from generation to generation, to the point where no one remembers anymore that they are based on falsehood.

And you, Ehud Barak, the first prime minister who dared, even for a fleeting moment, to look straight in our eyes and tell us the truth - about the West Bank, even about Jerusalem. Where did you go? Why did you give up? Arafat's "real face"?

Arafat is gone now, but his successor is willing to sign. Whether or not he is capable of implementation is another question. Unless he is able to act on his word, there can be no withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank. In that respect, you are certainly right. Anyone in this country with a brain in his head, and anyone in the world with a little good will, can understand that. But let's have an agreement already. Let's sign. Let's start packing up settlements and outposts on the other side of the fence. What are you waiting for, Ehud Barak? For the next Baruch Goldstein? For another Intifada? Haim Oron will step aside without a fuss for your sake, too.

If all you speakers of the truth band together to form one large party projecting a message of honesty and respect for the voter, there will be place for everyone. A realistic place. Because together you can generate a great sense of uplift, a refreshing release from illusion as the nation stops fooling itself and finally takes control of its own destiny.

Kadima and Labor need to quit their petty scorekeeping over what they can achieve collectively or separately. All of that is based on surveys that only estimate the chances of one lie over another. We have yet to see a survey that evaluates the real power of truth, when proclaimed loudly and in unison.

Those who are unwilling or incapable of change, those who are prepared to wallow forever in the culture of deception - be it Mofaz or anyone else - can find a place for themselves in the party of lies, a party where a thick blanket woven of sweet talk is used to cover both Dan Meridor and Benny Begin - and the chasm between them.

P.S. "Rabbi Abba said: "The Holy One, Blessed be He, seized Jeroboam by his garment and said to him 'Repent, and walk with me and the son of Yishai [King David] in The Garden of Eden.' Jeroboam asked, 'Who will lead?' God answered: 'The son of Yishai will lead.' Jeroboam responded: 'Then I am not interested.'" (Sanhedrin 102a)