Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 29 March 2004

A voice of sanity from Israel

The Sunday Telegraph yesterday had a very interesting piece by Avraham Burg, a Labour-Meimad party member, who was Speaker of the Knesset from 1999 to 2003. (Apparently a translation published in Forward, from an article in Yediot Aharonot). In it Mr Burg lays out what he sees as a more sensible path for Israel's future as a viable state than that being laid by the current Israeli administration, which he fears is bringing about the doom of the Zionist dream. He ends his article by saying:

"What is needed is not a political replacement for the Sharon government but a vision of hope, an alternative to the destruction of Zionism and its values by the deaf, dumb and callous.


"Israel's friends abroad - Jewish and non-Jewish alike, presidents and prime ministers, rabbis and lay people - should choose as well. They must reach out and help Israel to navigate toward our national destiny as a light unto the nations and a society of peace, justice and equality."

There is a countervailing argument in the same issue of the Sunday Telegraph by Con Coughlin in which he urges "Don't write off Ariel Sharon".

Whilst I try to understand the difficulty facing Sharon when his principal Palestinian counter-party, Yasser Arafat, seems in practice unwilling and/or unable (take your pick) to make peace with Israel (and Con Coughlin reminds us of his rejection of Ehud Barak's plan espoused at Camp David three years ago), it seems to me that Sharon's policies are not likely to give any prospect of security for Israel except by imposition of increasingly authoritarian policies toward Palestinians. It is this fear for what he sees as an inevitable future if the current policies continue to be followed which seems to have driven Mr Burg to write his article. Of course, the changes he advocates could only work if there were to be a Palestinian leader who was willing to make compromises too, for the mutual benefit of the two communities.

I find it difficult to believe that past Israeli leaders (for example Shimon Peres, Golda Meir or even Yitzhak Rabin), whatever their private views, would have found it in their country's long-term interests to continue the policies now being followed. Will enough Israeli voters see in time where they are being led? I would like to think so, but ....

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