The Protocols of the Elder of Zion

What is the bizarre black magic that always aborts every attempt to realize fully our desire "to let the IDF win," "to eradicate once and for all," to bring the Palestinian Authority tumbling down?

What is the bizarre black magic that always aborts every attempt to realize fully our desire "to let the IDF win," "to eradicate once and for all," to bring the Palestinian Authority tumbling down, to annex, to pulverize and to conquer the territories for the umpteenth time? Why does every such attempt somehow end prematurely, in a political fiasco, with an ashamed tail-between-the-legs retreat, or with lack of long-term security effectiveness?

The simple and immediate answer to this was provided again this week, in both the traditional demonstration of the right and the settlers in downtown Jerusalem and from "sources in the Prime Minister's Bureau," who were stunned by the blunt withdrawal order issued by President Bush. It was all, as usual, the fault of you-know-who: Shimon Peres, who holds the eternal blame, who is at fault for everything.

This may well be the only stable thing remaining in our world: Empires have crumbled, millennia have come and gone, the world as we know it has been stood on its head, and only the enduring blame of Shimon Peres is as constant as the North Star. He and his "Oslo" and his Arafat and his peace-schmeace schemes. And if the cries denouncing "Oslo" and "Peres" and "the left" continue even when there is no more "Oslo" and when "the left" is down and out or in Sharon's pocket, when the tanks and the bulldozers are cruising through the streets of the territories, and when even Peres isn't what he used to be - all this only shows the power of the man's voodoo.

Whether he's in the coalition or the opposition, in Israel or overseas, in a government ministry or in some institute he conjured up, Shimon Peres will always be "pulling the strings," "whispering in the ear" of someone, and somehow always blocking the agenda of the right. Even in those rare historical moments when the right wing is in power without him.

And if this is the world-embracing power he wields in the opposition, or in the role of minister of regional manipulation, then just think what intergalactic influence he exercises as foreign minister. And indeed, this week it was being whispered that Peres is not only pulling Sharon's strings and not only constantly resurrecting Arafat and even "Oslo" from the dead, and not only making the leaders of Europe, Russia and China dance to his tune - he was also said to be whispering to old horses in the U.S. Congress, to be running the State Department by remote control and to be dictating Bush's speeches to the president.

Not since the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" has there been a myth that ascribes such a potent concentration of global influence to one entity; and the Peres legend outstrips that of the "Elders of Zion," because in this case the prodigious power is attributed to only one melancholy-looking elder.

Certainly this myth rests on some grain of truth, because Peres's maneuverability, survivability and inventiveness are phenomenal by world standards. At the same time, it's clear why this myth is vastly inflated by the right wing and the settlers, to the point where it has become almost their only agenda. Take away Shimon Peres, evaporate Yasser Arafat, topple the Palestinian Authority, shred the last copy of the Oslo agreements - and what's left?

What will be left will be the need of the right to offer an independent, positive answer to the essential questions of our life here: an answer that will be both practical and creative, both constructive and feasible. Such an answer - one that is not only for the against, that is not only an excoriation of "Oslo" and Peres - has never been given.

Moreover, even when the right received a full mandate to carry out its heart's desire, it reverted to the "guilt of Shimon" and "Oslo" like an obsession: whether blaming them for everything or seizing on the "Oslo process" because there is no other choice - true, not forgetting to condemn and undermine it, but without any other alternative; or whether by bringing Peres himself into the government.

This was done not only to cover up their conceptual void but also had a practical purpose: the right-wing government needs the myth of Shimon Peres not to help it realize its rightist-annexationist agenda, but on the contrary: precisely to prevent that agenda from fulfilling itself. Because the annexation agenda has never been fully realizable - as every Likud prime minister has grasped from the moment he assumed power. But that's why Shimon Peres exists - he and his "Oslo" and his Arafat and his peace-schmeace: both to disrupt the realization of the wild and impossible dreams (even in their eyes) of the right and the settlers, and to bear the blame of torpedoing, subverting and interfering.

Cultivation of the "guilt of Oslo" and of the myth of "the all-blameworthy, all-embracing, all-interfering Shimon Peres" is therefore a paramount strategic asset of the right. Maybe "the left" can get along well without this eternal loser, and the dovish camp is also capable of coming up with a new political plan to replace "Oslo." But what will the Kleiners, the Liebermans and the Livnats do? The day on which Shimon Peres, "Oslo" and Arafat disappear will be a black day for them. When political creativity runs its course solely in the search for new synonyms for "pulverize" and "liquidate" and "eradicate" and "flatten" and "topple," they will yearn for the target called Arafat and the interference called Shimon Peres.