Here we go again; elections in Israel.
It is always a very interesting time for me, a time for reflection. I have seen a lot in my thirty six years here
I made Aliyah to Israel just after Menachem Begin’s Machal party ( today’s Likud) was elected for the first time, in 1977 , thus finally breaking the Labor/Left monopoly on political power in Israel. since before the founding of the State in 1948.
I recall how proud and optimistic I was when Begin announced ,”there will be many more “Elon Morehs” – Jewish communities in Samaria. The Left, the press the international community were very nasty to him which convinced me he was the right man for the job.
In retrospect, I understand that I moved to Israel a vital turning point in its evolution. What I and many perceived as the start of a new assertion of national pride and attention to Jewish roots and values was not going to happen as we expected.
Begin was the man with the great biography of Jewish pride and struggle , first against Soviet dictatorship and then hounded by the British occupation – all the while staying one step ahead of the the Left in Israel who would turn him in to the British authorities- and the gallows. The Begin we all loved and admired and pinned our hopes on…crashed soon after attaining the pinnacle of his career
But he craved acceptance by the establishment in Israel, to win a consensus he never enjoyed as an under ground fighter or opposition leader. Nobly, he wanted to bring the country together and end the bickering and bitterness. Labor’s Ben Gurion hated Begin and could not even bring himself to mention his name. This was a one way enmity and Begin was determined to put an end to it through consensus building.
He did this by bringing his long time Labor political rival, Moshe Dayan into his cabinet as foreign minister.
Dayan began secret peace negotiations with Sadat’s Egypt for a peace treaty in return for massive concessions in the Sinai, an area three times the size of Israel, captured in the Six Days War (it had been captured twice before when Israel agreed to withdraw in favor of political arrangements)
Making a long story short, Begin agreed to the Camp David accords which called for bowing to the total demands of Egypt’s Sadat and president Jimmy Carter to withdraw , again, from the entire Sinai conceding Israel’s best air and naval bases, oil fields that made Israel energy self sufficient, and most significant of all and setting a historic precedent, expulsion of thousands of Jewish pioneers from their homes in the Sinai which they transformed into a Garden of Eden.
Begin balked at this tragic step It was against all that he stood for his entire life. Sadat said, “You can burn your settlements, I do not want a Jew in my Sinai!” Carter nodded his approval. Dayan urged Begin not to miss his historic opportunity for peace.
“Peace Now” demonstrators and the Leftist press warned , do not come home with out peace (in our time..?)
Begin caved in and thus began a down hill spiral for him personally and for the hopes of a real revolution of the Israeli spirit. The chorus in the Leftist press, legal class and academia of “what will the nations say? How can we be a nation that dwells alone”? infected Begin.
He could face the Soviets, the British and the Arabs – but he craved acceptance by as many of his own people as possible.
The expulsions of Yamit and the total withdrawal from every grain of Sinai” as Sadat demanded was the precedent used by the Left ever since. If eventhe tough Begin gave “land for peace” then surely…
It has been down hill since. A huge hole was punched in the dam and the roar of the waters rushing through drowned out any audible voice of protest.
Rabbi Meir Kahane was one of the strongest and uncompromising voices attempting to shake Israel out of the cloud of impotence and lethargy that now enveloped them.
He succeeded in reaching increasing ears and hearts… so the Israeli democracy banned him from politics.
Others raised their voices but the country continued down the slippery slope as the public was kept sleeping.
Then came Oslo in 1993. Israel continued down the slope – with skates.
“Land for Peace”, “One makes peace with enemies – not friends” ,
“Sacrifice for peace”, Peace Now” , “The price of peace”, “Peace partners”
“Moderate Arabs”,The New Middle East”, “International acceptance”, “Land for Peace” The moderates will protect us from the extremists”, Land is no longer of strategic value”, “Israel will be the Singapore of the Mid East”..etc…
Most of these “1984 double speak mantras” were products of the fantasy world of Shimon Peres, the high priest of national delusion.
And so the bodies piled up as did the security walls.
Hundreds of thousands were employed guarding schools, coffee shops and bus stops from the extremist that our moderate partners could not protect us from. Or were our moderate partners blowing us up? It became very confusing.
Israelis were dumb struck, confused, enraged and helpless. The Left elites assured them it is all part of an inevitable “process” . There is no other option.
In 2005, facing scandal and indictment, Prime minister Sharon, war hero, surprised all by continuing and accelerating the policies of the Oslo debacle. He announced he was going to expel 10,000 Jewish pioneers from their homes in Gaza and Samaria and hand over huge areas of the home land to the enemy. He explained it was for security reasons and to enhance international support for Israel.
Of course the opposite resulted but it did keep him out of jail. The press and the courts rewarded him for embracing the extreme policies of the Left – just as he hoped they would.
Now in the post Gush Katif period, the Left has not changed their mantras but the people of Israel however are not buying it as they once did.
It is clear that the Left parties have noting to offer. Personalities and egos squabeling amongst them selves is what is remains. The Right will win. Bibi as prime minister will still try to gain respectability by not seeming “too extreme”. He will try hard to form a coalition that willl not turn back the Oslo fiasco, but rather play the political game of power and personal survival.
His greatest poltical night mare of the last ten years was Moshe Feiglin and his attempt to return ideology to the Likud and politics in Israel. Now that he will finally be a Likud MK, things will become more interesting. Bibi can dilute his and other ideoloical MKs influence by bringing Left parties into the coalition – but the game is just about up.
The people of Israel have suffered twenty years of Oslo and now a growing number of true patriots and God fearing Jews will take their place in the Knesset.
We have turned a corner .Its not over but the free fall down the slope has been stopped.
Yes, its been quite a roller coaster for me these thirty five years.
God willling the next thirty five will be a better ride for my children and grand children