Have we really begun losing the plot? In the old days, when we witnessed apparent bungles we would convince ourselves that we were not privy to all the facts and time would show that our leaders were in reality playing a smart game. Today we no longer suffer such delusions.
Take the Geneva Accord, which amounts to a vastly inferior version of the Oslo disaster.
The initiative was launched by the same failed politicians who inflicted Oslo upon us and were decisively rejected by their constituents. In a normal society they would have been universally condemned and probably prosecuted for undermining their democratically elected government at a time of war.
Imagine the inconceivable scenario of a Belgian government financing a right-wing politician to promote policies opposed by the Swiss government. Yet the Swiss launched a full-blown festival to celebrate the signing with hundreds of journalists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, politicians and former president Jimmy Carter being flown gratis to Geneva.
The Israeli media also had a fest. Viewing the Ilana Dayan TV program which presented film clips of Beilin’s negotiations with the Palestinians is a surrealistic experience. We see Beilin nonchalantly agreeing to cede Efrat to the Palestinians and his assistant, Lord Levy’s son, handing over other areas of Jewish settlement.
Instead of telling the Swiss to stop interfering in our internal affairs and being more explicit about the outrageous behavior of the failed politicians, our prime minister decided to play down the entire issue.
But then, lo and behold, President Moshe Katsav hosted a meeting with Beilin and the Palestinians. He praised them for indulging in dialogue and gently admonished them for failing to promote their project through the government.
This kindergarten political spiel was of course ignored, but understandably the media highlighted the photo opportunities of Katsav holding court with Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo.
Could one visualize the Queen of England holding chat sessions and being photographed with a former minister conducting negotiations with the Argentineans during the Falklands War?
In the light of this, it is somewhat bizarre to express disappointment that the Americans, who initially disassociated themselves from Geneva, are now sending official observers and praise Beilin’s “constructive peace initiatives.” One might even consider it somewhat churlish to criticize Colin Powell for literally following the example of the president of Israel.
THE MADNESS goes further. Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg continues uninhibitedly to defame Zionism and Israel and tells the world that our schoolchildren relish killing old men and women. And we complain about European anti-Semitic outpourings!
And the lunatic Right contributes to the ultimate ideological insanity by announcing its support for a purportedly binational state which would grant Arab citizens only limited rights under Jewish sovereignty.
Despite the fact that we remain engaged in a cruel war, the chaos prevails at all levels.
In the space of one month IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon publicly criticized his government; four former GSS chiefs aired their individual political bias and reprimanded the government, encouraging Palestinians to revive their dreams about Israel unraveling because of internal disputes; the Oslo resurrection promoted by Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh was praised by US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; resolutions were submitted in the US Congress promoting the Geneva charade and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh initiative; and a plethora of other independent, opposition and semi-official so-called seminars and other forms of quasi negotiations with Palestinians taking place all over the world without any apparent government frame of reference.
And to top it off: following the endorsement of the Road Map by the Security Council, Kofi Anna condemns us for building a security fence and violating UN resolutions, serving ominous notice of possible future attempts to impose sanctions.
Who is to blame for this anarchy and chaos? Unquestionably, the government. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cannot continue mumbling inanities and ignoring all these independent initiatives. He must cease the zigzags, hinting at “painful sacrifices” and unilateral withdrawals one day and warning the Palestinians that if they do not get their act together they will lose their last chance to ever achieve statehood the next.
It is not because we face a hostile administration that US policy has begun tilting against us. It is, rather, a byproduct of our paralysis and mistaken belief that by doing nothing our problems will be overcome. A warm personal relationship between President George W. Bush and Sharon does not warrant a neglect of Congress and American public opinion. Indeed it would appear that because of its strong support for Israel we have begun taking Congress somewhat for granted.
There is little doubt that our seeming inertia, combined with the absence of a more concerted campaign to promote our position in the US, contributed to the recent disastrous public chastisement of our policies by the administration and the deduction of $300 million from our loan guarantees – to which our government barely responded.
Sharon must realize that if he continues on his present path, Bush will simply drift into making more anti-Israeli gestures to mollify the Europeans.
The premier must provide leadership, make difficult decisions, and talk to the nation. He must begin charting a long-term strategy, despite the realization that there are no quick fixes capable of resolving the complex challenges facing us. And he must involve his cabinet, as this country cannot endure another Napoleonic initiative.
It is also high time for Israelis to demand that their elected leaders behave in a more transparent manner.
A true democracy requires public involvement in the political process between elections. If the public is given the opportunity of debating policy options they will assuredly contribute towards achieving a constructive policy and game plan. That will be infinitely preferable to being confronted with ex cathedra government policies launched under pressure and in desperation.
The people of Israel are far more mature than many of our current leaders seem to believe. And democracy ultimately thrives in an environment of accountability, leadership and transparency.