Who's responsible for Labor's and Meretz's demise? / Yehudith Harel

In a recent message by Yigal Arens, which I fully agree with, he said the following:

"...There is enough blame to go around, of course. But I think Ehud Barak is the one who'll have to shoulder most of it.....Barak was essentially sawing off the branch he and the Labor party were sitting on" ( see detailed comment bellow).

However, Barak's "No partner myth" couldn't have succeeded to penetrate so deeply and cause the ultimate collapse of the so called "Israeli Peace Camp" - was it not so eagerly and unanimously supported at the time by Yossi BEILIN, Shlomo Ben Ami, Yuli Tamir, Yossi Sarid and comp., and basically by all the other leaders of the so called "Peace Camp": Labor, Meretz and Peace Now...

These people collaborated with Barak, with the "no partner" myth, overtly blaming the collapse of the "Peace Talks" only on the Palestinian side. They supported Barak in the 2001 elections in which his main message was that there are no Palestinian partners for Peace and worse: that the Palestinians never wanted Peace to begin with; that they only wanted to cheat us in order to later eliminate Israel altogether...and that he, Barak managed to "unveil" their evil and dishonest intentions... The Labor and Meretz leaders didn't reveal in real time the truth known to them as to real nature of Barak's offers in Camp David 2 - the famous 88%-12% formula later openly admitted by Ben Ami himself, Beilin, Pundak and many others... nor did they speak out against Barak's self defeating negotiation tactics... Instead, they actively cooperated with Barak's propaganda without even realizing the lethal electoral implications for the so called "Left" and the Peace Camp's future...And mind you all, that all this happened before the suicide bombings, it started even before the outbreak of the second intifada. Moreover, by sitting in Barak's government, these people actually backed his brutal military policy against the civil Palestinian demonstrartors, that in turn escalated the intifada and turned it into an armed struggle - before the suicide bombings ... Moreover, they supported Barak - at least passively by sitting in his government - in his notorious assassination policy that started - once again, before the suicide bombings, in early December 2000.

I wish to remind all of you that those few "lunatics" who dared to oppose backing Barak in the 2001 elections - refuting the morally unacceptable, and politically stupid and baseless "no choice" argument, claimed that backing Barak at that stage will have one meaning: The beginning of the END of the Peace Camp as a major and meaningful political alternative in this country.. .If Barak was defeated, and thus proved 'right', than Labor and Meretz would be hold accountable for "fathering" the colossal Oslo failure and being duped by the 'cunning and evil Palestinians', thus bringing upon us a huge disaster...S o why to back them at all??? Some of us warned against the consequences of this fatal policy and its outcomes: the eventual and final eradication of the so called "Peace Camp", the effective erosion of its electoral basis and consequently its inevitable electoral defeat... We did so only to be ridiculed as "extremists", purists or naive anarchists...

Now we are facing a colossal disaster due to the blindness, arrogance and who knows what else, of this leadership. There was a choice at that time , back in 2000 - 2001. The Labor people could have chosen another way, another message, another Leader. The so called "peaceniks" in Barak's government - mainly Beilin, Ben-Ami, Burg and Tamir could have defied Barak, they could have "unveiled" the real nature of Barak's CD2 offers, his real strategy and his policies - things that took them almost a year or so to admit in public. Sarid could have assumed a historical role by presenting himself as a candidate opposing Barak. Doing so, he could have lead a strong opposition campaign against Barak in order to unveil and demystify his colossal failure. We knew that he could have defeated Barak - true, only to be defeated by Sharon ( yet with a much smaller margin based on the support of the majority of Israeli Palestinians...) BUT - what is much more meaningful is that Sarid inspite of his defeat could have SAVED the Peace Camp. He could have given the supporters of the Peace Camp a clear alternative interpretation of the situation BEFORE their minds and souls were successfully kidnapped and poisoned by the Right and became blocked to our message for a long time to come. He could and should have started to lead the battle for the Future based on an alternative vision of a Just Peace and real Equality and real Social and Political Justice in this country, openly allying himself with the Palestinian citizens of Israel. But he didn't. He chose instead to be a petty collaborator of Barak and one of those who started to dig the deep grave of the old and now obsolete Israeli Left and the old and now obsolete Peace Camp.... Some of us knew all this to begin with, and we said so loud and clear but nobody wanted to listen. Blindness and deafness prevailed...

Instead, we witnessed with failing hearts and great despair Sarid and Meretz leading Barak's failing and treacherous propaganda campaign, becoming the petty subcontractors of a bankrupt policy and a bankrupt and failing leader, while his own colleagues from Labor, including Beilin and Ben Ami, were sitting back, waiting for Barak's inevitable defeat....and then the Labor wing lead by Peres and Ben Eliezer even joined Sharon's government....

But the person who could have done all the difference in the world was Sarid, and he failed us. Sarid failed, he failed all of us, the same as Beilin, Ben Ami, Tamir and all the others who have failed too. They have all let us down. They can't blame anybody but themselves for this failure. And we - we have no alternative today but to analyze what lies behind this colossal failure, what lies behind their underlying presumptions that lead them into this blind alley, the many lies and contradictions in their ideology - yes, that of the Zionist Leftist ideology, that caused these people to lead all of us into such a disastrous situation.

*Yehudith Harel – Gush Shalom activist. Former member of Meretz and Peace Now.

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Yigal Arens' comment:

There is enough blame to go around, of course. But I think Ehud Barak is the one who'll have to shoulder most of it.

He thought he was very clever when he conspired with Clinton to place the blame for the failure of Camp David on the Palestinians. When he insisted that Palestinians could have had "everything" and "chose to use violence", he figured that this would be very helpful to Israel by weakening the Palestinian negotiating position when talks resumed.

What he didn't realize is what effect this position would have on the Israeli public. While he was thinking of international affairs and future negotiations (or maybe just avoiding the blame for the breakdown of Camp David) this position was accepted by Israelis just as much as it was by the outside world he was hoping to influence. His concocted version of history was quite naturally accepted by almost all Israelis, since it validated the views of that sizable segment of the political spectrum that was opposed to the Oslo Accords right from the start.

And since Labor had nothing to show for its political activity in the past decade other than the Oslo process, Barak was essentially sawing off the branch he and the Labor party were sitting on.