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The Other Israel _ August 2000, Issue No. 94


Go It Alone, an Editorial Overview
'Mother, it's over!'
Crumbling coalition
The percentage game
The sovereignty game
Too holy to be true

To Hope or Not to Hope
Peace activists cheer Barak's departure for Camp David

Polls on the Move
Israeli public opinion on peace-related issues

It Doesn't Make Sense Otherwise, by Beate Zilversmidt
How to explain the outcome and aftermath of Camp David

Deja Vu, by Daphna Levit
The economic logic for Middle East peace

Camp David and the Israeli Peace Movement
The Rally that Wasn't, by Adam Keller
 The Peace Tent and the Bereaved Families' Forum
Responses to Failure of the Negotiations

Dispossessed of Water
Distribution of water resources between Israelis and Palestinians

Recent House Demolitions and Responses from the Peace Movement

Jerusalem Petition Re-launched

Waking Up from Madness, by Haim Bar'am
In the aftermath of Camp David

For Three Transgressions, by Uri Avnery
a critique of Barak's performance at Camp David

[THE OTHER ISRAEL is the newsletter of the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, P.O.Box 2542, 58125 Holon, Israel.
Phone/Fax: (03) 5565804; E-mail:

Editors: Adam Keller, Daphna Levit, Beate Zilversmidt

For subscription information and a free copy of this issue, please send us your name and postal address. From addresses in North America, please send to <>; all others, please send to <>]


Issue 94 August 2000


It is more difficult then usual to write a coherent account of the past two months -- not only because there was such a profusion and confusion of dramatic events, but also because any such account would inevitably be ambiguous about one of the central players: Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

When we see his, by now very familiar visage on the TV screen, are we looking at the former commando officer who took pride in the killing of "terrorists" -- or is this the Prime Minister who has staked his entire career on his success as a peacemaker? Is this, at last, the Israeli De Gaulle or the Israeli De Klerk? Is he the kind of leader who emerges to power within the confines of an oppressive system but overcomes the limitations of his own upbringing and grasps the historical need for a bold new beginning? Or will he be remembered as a miserable failure, whose downfall dragged with it many others? In a month or two from now, shall we be hailing Barak as the author of a great breakthrough for peace and support him in his struggle to get it implemented? Or will we denounce him as the conductor of a destructive war and oppose him with all our might?

The question "Is this the man?", which appeared at the top of this page when he came to power, is more poignant than ever. It seems, though, that a conclusive answer will be available soon.

'Mother, it's over!'

"Bringing Back the boys from Lebanon" had been a main plank of Barak's elections campaign in 1999, a highly popular response to the Israeli public's almost universal loathing of a futile, 22-year old guerrilla war which could in no way be won. Forming his government on July 7, 1999, Barak promised that the troops would be out "within a year." He actually did it within slightly over ten months -- though not exactly in the way he had originally planned it: not as part of a grand peace deal with Syria and Lebanon, nor with UN peace- keepers ready to take over the evacuated Israeli positions.

Barak and his generals, in making their contingency plans, did not consider the possibility that the Hizbullah guerrillas would suddenly prove adept at non- violent tactics as well. Nor did their plans take into account the tens of thousands of South Lebanese who had been driven from their homes during the Israeli invasions of 1978 and 1982, and had been living in Beirut slums for the past two decades.

The news of impending Israeli withdrawal fired these people with hope. Suddenly, there they were -- thousands of civilians walking towards the Taibeh Military Outpost, holding aloft yellow Hizbullah flags, but no weapons. The soldiers on the ramparts were from the "South Lebanon Army" -- the local militia recruited, armed and paid by Israel -- and they knew the approaching civilians to be their own Shiite co-religionists, in some cases their fellow villagers or
even family members.

At the decisive moment the SLA troops did not shoot, and the human tide swept over them and continued southwards, towards the Israeli border.

The SLA collapsed "like a house of cards" (as a disgruntled Israeli general put it). Thousands of fighters fled with their families towards the Israeli border; thousands of others preferred to stay put and take their chances rather than choose what might become irrevocable exile.

In less than two days, the whole of South Lebanon was in the hands of Hizbullah, with scarcely a shot being fired. The Israeli forward positions -- and the hundreds of IDF soldiers manning them -- were left isolated, their lines of communications in imminent danger of being cut.

Though caught by surprise, Barak kept his nerve and authorized immediate evacuation. The 22-year old Israeli military presence in Lebanon was terminated in a single night of forced marches. By dawn, all soldiers had emerged unscathed on the Israeli side -- which was all that really mattered to the general Israeli public. (Persistent rumours connected this happy result to some kind of tacit understanding with Hizbullah).

For one or two days, nationalist demagogues tried to stir up emotions with cries of "Shameful running away" and "abandonment of our allies" -- but these had no effect in comparison with the footage of a young soldier shouting into his mobile phone "Mother, it's over at last. I'm out of Lebanon!"

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Indeed, some soldiers' mothers stood outside the Defence Ministry in Tel-Aviv, deliriously handing out flowers to bypassers on the very spot where they had so often before stood in angry picket lines.

It was generally acknowledged to be a high point for Ehud Barak. He rode high in the polls, celebrating victory over the many doomsayers. The restored Israeli-Lebanese border remained quiet, with no bombardments or cross-border raids into Israeli territory provoking the kind of "terrible retaliation" the government had been darkly threatening.

The grumbling Air Force commanders accepted exclusion from Lebanese air space, and Israeli news broadcasts ceased to carry, day after day, the terse communiques about "Our Planes" bombing "Terrorist Targets" in Lebanon.

Also -- no massacre of Lebanese collaborators left behind by Israel, though some SLA officers did get harsh prison sentences in "instant trials" held by the Beirut Military Court -- a procedure which raised the protest of international human rights organizations.

The general public, relieved at the end of a nightmare which had lasted two decades, was not completely aware of how fragile the new border situation remained. The deployment of UN peace keepers along the border proceeded extremely sluggishly, and even more so the sending of Lebanese government troops to enforce Lebanese sovereignty. There was, in fact, no vacuum for them to fill. Hizbullah already had effective power, with its troops deployed along the border (often in the former Israeli outposts) and showed little inclination to disarm.

In the strange first days, Hizbullah guerrillas and ordinary Israelis suddenly found each other literally face to face across a thin border fence -- at talking distance. A fence dialogue of a kind started, in a mixture of English, French, Arabic and Hebrew. An exchange of opinions about Zionism and the relative merits of Judaism and Islam gradually degenerated into shouting matches, insults and threatening gestures.

When stones started to fly across the border, the army moved in, declaring whole pieces of land near the border to be "closed military zones", excluding the civilians and raising the border fence higher and higher. Soon, it became the daily habit for Lebanese demonstrators to gather near the border and throw stones at the soldiers on the Israeli side. And not only Lebanese; other Arabs began to arrive with the intention of being photographed taking part in this new tourist attraction. Among those who came was none other than the Palestinian-American Professor Edward Said...

Some tried to break through the border fence as well; one such group, who were wounded by the shots of Israeli soldiers, turned out to be Jordanian citizens. The incident provoked a diplomatic row lasting several days between Israel and Jordan. The soldiers were told to hold their fire, except for extreme cases, and endure the stone throwing -- which they did not like at all...

Stabilizing the border and achieving peace in northern Israel can only come about as a package deal, involving Syria also, which means taking up the unfinished business of the occupied Golan Heights. However, Israeli-Syrian negotiations had collapsed back in April, and the situation was further complicated by the sudden death of Syrian President Hafez Assad, and the succession of his son Bashar. Most commentators assume that Israeli-Syrian negotiations would stay on the back burner until this 34-year old president becomes firmly established in power, though others have high hopes that Bashar Assad -- a Western-trained doctor known to be fond of the Internet -- would be more amenable to a "creative solution" for the disputed shore of the Lake of Galilee, over which the previous talks had collapsed.

Pending a rapprochement with Syria -- which does not seem in the immediate offing -- Ehud Barak has one more urgent reason to reach agreement with the Palestinians and avert a military conflagration in the West Bank and Gaza. A spark from such a conflagration can all too easily set alight the Lebanese border as well...


The IDF evacuation of Lebanon under guerrilla pressure was greeted with enthusiasm and enormous cheers by Palestinians -- and with a great deal of envy.
Barak's scrupulous adherence to the precise line of the Israeli-Lebanese border, immediately rectifying even the most minor border infractions which the UN observers reported, stood in sharp contrast to the land-grabbing and settlement extension going on daily all over the West Bank. Understandably, many Palestinians attributed the difference in Israel's attitude to the fact that Arafat had chosen the path of negotiations while Hizbullah remained committed to armed struggle.

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In the atmosphere of increasing tension, several of the crack infantry units pulled out of Lebanon were sent, after only a brief period of recuperation, into the Gaza Strip. "It is not so different. Here, too, we travel by convoy and hold the gun ready" said one of the soldiers to Yediot Aharonot.

For their part, the settlers drew their own parallel with Lebanon: If public pressure and demonstrations of soldiers' mothers could cause the army to suddenly withdraw, leaving behind the SLA militia, may the same not happen eventually in the West Bank and Gaza Strip? Might not the settlers -- who are, essentially, also a militia armed and paid for by the government of Israel -- find themselves similarly left behind by a suddenly withdrawing army? The settlers' "Judea and Samaria Council", a body not lacking in campaign funds, came up with the slogan: "Barak, brothers must not be abandoned", which soon appeared on big billboards all over the country, as well as on placards carried by raving settlers in demonstrations.

Addressing this settler campaign, the Gush Shalom movement put out an ad:

Don't wait until the last moment! A responsible Prime Minister would start right now to plan the evacuation of the settlers and their rehabilitation within the borders of Israel (Ha'aretz, June 16).
Gush Shalom, pob 3322, Tel-Aviv;

Crumbling coalition

Soon after coming to power, Ehud Barak conceived the idea of getting Yasser Arafat to a trilateral summit with himself and US President Clinton, where -- so Barak predicted -- Arafat could be induced to make considerable concessions. Arafat, for comparable reasons, was decidedly cool towards the summit idea, preferring less binding forms of negotiations. In this way, indeed, Arafat had managed to get the Israeli PM to soften his position on a number of significant issues. By June 2000, however, Barak became adamant -- effectively blocking off all lower-level talks -- and insisted that only a summit would do at this crucial stage, with the September 13 deadline approaching fast, and a highly charged situation on the ground.

The mid-May gun battles between Israeli and Palestinian forces had ended in a shaky cease-fire. Both sides continued in their military preparations; IDF Chief-of-Staff Mofaz already threatened "to use tanks and helicopter gun ships against the Palestinians." Shortly afterwards, it became known that Palestinian teenagers started to be given military training

As we know, Barak finally had it his way, the somewhat skeptical Clinton at last issuing an invitation which the reluctant Arafat could not refuse. But during the final weeks of the run-up to the Camp David summit, the PM actually had to spend most of his energy inwards, shoring up a fast crumbling government coalition.

The Government that Ehud Barak had formed in July 1999 was composed of widely divergent parties and factions. From the start it was obvious that -- were the government to make any serious move towards peace -- some of these partners would not stay the course. For example, neither the settler-friendly National Religious Party, nor the Russian Immigrants' Party of Nathan Sharansky (whose human rights past seems far behind him) could be expected to stay in a cabinet which made significant territorial concessions. Reportedly, Barak was content to have such parties aboard for as long as they would stay, so as keep the parliamentary opposition at bay in the early stages of negotiations with the Palestinians and/or the Syrians.

In order to have the NRP in, Barak had even handed to them the key Housing Ministry -- knowing full well that they would use it for settlement extension. However, he was prepared to do without them, in the ultimate hour.

A different story were two parties which -- along with the Labour Party itself -- were considered the cabinet's pillars: Meretz and Shas. Barak hoped to keep both for the entire term, expecting them to provide a comfortable Knesset majority and promote any peace agreement he would achieve among their respective followers.

In theory, there was much to recommend this strategy (the same as the one employed by Rabin, in the cabinet which achieved the original Oslo Agreements). Meretz is well-known as a peace-oriented party; Shas, despite its predominantly nationalist constituency, has a relatively dovish leadership, and its revered spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef, had made the ruling that the sanctity of human life must take precedence over that of Biblically-hallowed land.

Meretz and Shas, however, constitute polar opposites in nearly everything else: the one militantly secularist, drawing its inspiration from the democratic and progressive movements of the West and having its main base of support among the Ashkenazi middle-class; the other -- religious and traditionalist, guided by the handed-down precepts of ancient Jewish sages and representing the aspirations of the impoverished and disadvantaged Sephardis. Most members and supporters in both parties entertain a congenital dislike -- hatred would not be too strong a word -- towards the other one, which is manifestly evident in the rallies and public gatherings of both. In the unfolding "cultural war" which is convulsing Israeli society, many Meretz supporters have come to regard Shas-bashing as more important than promoting peace.

Against this background, it is perhaps remarkable that Barak's "Peace Coalition" survived as long as it did -- especially as the ministerial appointment of Meretz Leader Yossi Sarid constituted a built-in source of constant friction. As Minister of Education he was, among other things, responsible for administering and financing the Shas-affiliated religious educational system.

Sarid claimed that the Shas schools were getting more than their fair share of funding, and that their directors were not following required administrative procedures. Shas claimed that Sarid was using any

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available excuse to strangle an educational system which his party had branded as Fundamentalist and Obscurantist. (Both parties had probably more than a grain of truth to their grievances.)

The result was a simmering crisis which finally burst out in shouting matches between rival ministers on the Knesset floor -- and, more importantly, in Shas starting to side in crucial votes with the opposition, effectively depriving Barak's government of its parliamentary majority.

The PM seriously involved himself only after the crisis had gone on for months, taking Shas' side in the Educational System dispute. As a result, the Meretz ministers left the cabinet, though promising to continue supporting it, from the outside.

This awkward outcome seemed to leave the parliamentary majority intact, especially after Barak made a further sacrifice: giving his support to a bill ensuring the exemption from military service to students of Yeshivas (religious seminaries). It was a highly unpopular move among Barak's own secularist followers, a violation of his explicit electoral promise to establish "egalitarian conscription" -- resulting in a sharp plummeting of his rating. Still, Barak considered it an acceptable price for securing support of the crucial Ultra-Orthodox block.

In another balancing act the PM, just before immersing himself totally in the negotiations with the Palestinians, gave in to the demands of the Histadrut Trade Union federation and cancelled a controversial tax reform. Barak had no wish to have the unions hold a general strike as he set out for Camp David.

Yet by the time that Israel's Prime Minister finally boarded his plane, most of these efforts and precautions proved futile. On the eve of the conference, not only the NRP and the Russians bolted the government -- but to the PM's chagrin, Shas as well. Barak had been unwilling to disclose to the Shas ministers what would be his ultimate concessions -- his "Red Lines" -- for fear of by so doing undermining his negotiating position in Camp David. The limits of Shas' relative dovishness seemed to have been reached.

Another grievous blow to Barak was the defection of Foreign Minister David Levy, a notoriously fickle politician who once also enjoyed a reputation for relative dovishness but in the past year made himself a conspicuous hawk. He may have been insulted by Barak's preference for Professor Shlomo Ben Ami, Police Minister and former Israeli Ambassador to Spain, as chief negotiator.

All of this resulted in Barak's definitely losing his parliamentary majority. On the very day of his departure, the opposition gained a Knesset majority for a motion of no confidence in the government, though failing to muster the special majority required to actually topple the government. Barak had but one trump card to play: to bypass the Knesset, and submit an agreement -- should there be one -- directly to the people.

For his part, Yasser Arafat -- though less troubled by a direct challenge from political opponents -- was faced with a general feeling of bitterness among his people and a deep-rooted disbelief that anything good would be coming from this peace process. Long gone were the days of the Madrid Conference, when Palestinian youths handed olive branches to Israeli soldiers passing in their streets. After so many years of Peace Process, a villager anywhere in the Palestinian territories could look around -- and plainly see how much closer the Israeli settlement in his vicinity had crept during these years of negotiations.

Time after time in these weary years, Palestinians saw their representatives emerge from another round of negotiations with another fragmentary achievement and most things left for "next time." But after Camp David there would be, in principle, no "next time." The Palestinian side would be asked to renounce any further claims against Israel, and all concessions made this time would be irrevocable...

Most apprehensive were the refugees, scattered in their camps over both the Palestinian territories and the nearby Arab countries. They knew there was little chance that Barak -- or any other Israeli leader -- would allow them to return to the houses and fields they lost five decades ago, the dream they cherished and passed on from generation to generation. The possibility of citizenship in an independent Palestine would not bring them back to their original homes, and monetary compensation would be cold comfort... As the Camp David Summit opened, many Palestinians felt that their leader was about to enter a dangerous trap.

To hope or not to hope

We were waiting for him last night, hundreds of activists in the peace vigil outside the gates of Ben-Gurion Airport: some grey-haired peace veterans rubbing shoulders with Peace Now Youths, Blue-Shirts and the hypnotic rhythms of the Peace Drummers.

The slogan 'The majority supports peace' on the brand new T-shirts was supplemented with stickers such as Gush Shalom's 'There is no such thing as a legal settlement'; young throats chanted energetically for hours on end the good old 'No more war' and 'Peace Yes -- Occupation No!' and 'Israel and Palestine -- two states for two peoples' and 'Don't want to die in vain -- make peace now!' There were some special creations: 'Summit today -- Tomorrow Peace' (which rhymes nicely in Hebrew), and 'Bring us peace!', as well as 'Ehud will bring us peace!'

Is Prime Minister Ehud Barak going to fulfill the high hopes placed in him by the young -- due, all too soon, to be conscripted -- or is he going to Camp David only to propose impossible terms, put blame for the failure on 'Palestinian intransigence' and call upon the youths to follow him into the coming war?
(From the email briefing sent out by TOI on July 11)

On the eve of the summit, jittery and trigger-happy soldiers protecting the settlement of Kfar Darom -- an enclave bisecting the Gaza Strip's main highway -- shot wildly at a passing Palestinian taxi, killing the 33-year

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old Aatidal Muamar and severely wounding her husband and her eight-month old child.

The percentage game

It was only a few years ago that the very idea of an independent Palestinian state ceased to be anathema in Israeli politics. But even after becoming reconciled to that idea in principle, mainstream Israeli politicians still sought to restrict the Palestinian state to a completely unviable collection of small, disconnected enclaves. Such was, indeed, Barak's own position to start with. But a year of intensive formal and unofficial, open and secret talks -- at a great variety of venues and usually getting only a cursory mention in the media -- seems to have worked some changes.

Apparently, the Palestinian negotiators -- who got little recognition for it from their own people -- managed to considerably wear down Barak's terms. The progression can be traced through the occasional press leaks of the past year.

In October 1999 Barak expected to hold a summit and begin by offering Arafat 42% of the West Bank, in order to clinch a deal at 60% to 65%, or at the utmost 70% nothing more (Ma'ariv, 22/10/99). In the talks held in May 2000 at the Red Sea resort of Eilat, a map of a Palestinian state was officially presented comprising 80% of the West Bank (66% to be turned over immediately, and 12% at a later time). Upon the Palestinian total rejection of that offer, the Stockholm back channel was set up -- where "90% to 95%" were the numbers talked about.

Aside from "the percentage game" there seem to have been other important Israeli concessions, on such vital issues as the Palestinian State's territorial continuity, its free access to the outside world and its sovereignty in the Jordan Valley -- an area hitherto claimed by all Israeli governments since 1967 which had enjoyed the particular patronage of Labour governments.

But though the Palestinians had been able to get Israel's agreement to give up most of the West Bank, they have eventually reached a point where no further concessions were to be gotten, since for holding on to the last percentages Barak had the backing of Yossi Beilin, Yossi Sarid and most of the other mainstream doves -- who also advocate the annexation of the "settlement blocks." Simply stated, this doctrine regards as "irreversible" the larger West Bank settlements whose inhabitants are not religious fanatics, but ordinary Israelis seduced by cheap housing, commuting to work in Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem.

It appears that at Camp David, the Palestinian leadership has accepted the principle of letting Israel annex three "settlement blocks." Throughout the two weeks of the summit, dickering continued on the size of these "blocks" -- 5% of the West Bank in the Palestinian interpretation, 10% or 12% in the Israeli one.

This was definitely a major Palestinian concession: giving up the principled demand for the 1967 borders, which is enshrined in countless UN resolutions. No other Arab negotiating partner made such a concession. Israel had to accept withdrawal behind the pre-'67 border Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon were concerned, and also Hafez Assad of Syria had insisted upon this principle until his last breath.

Somehow, this Palestinian concession remained unmentioned by the international press -- perhaps due to the media blackout imposed by the American hosts, which made hundreds of information-hungry journalists live almost completely on a few selective leaks made by those few participants (mainly the leaders themselves) with access to an outside phone. Yasser Arafat had no interest in breaking this piece of news to his people until and unless he could offset it with a conspicuous achievement on another front -- especially since he knew that, should the negotiations break down, he might soon have to unite Palestinian moderates and hardliners in a desperate struggle for independence.

Nor did Barak go out of his way to broadcast it -- both because it would interfere with presenting Arafat as "intransigent", should the conference fail, and because it would underscore how much of the West Bank the Israeli side was, giving up. (Barak also reportedly agreed to dismantle all settlements in the overcrowded Gaza Strip, and to cede some Israeli territory adjacent to the Strip).

It was, it seems, in the common interest of both leaders -- each for his own reasons -- to focus on the issue which had been hitherto untouchable: Jerusalem.

The sovereignty game

Ever since 1967, the slogan "United Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Israel" has been an article of faith, to which all but the most radical of politicians felt obliged to subscribe and swear fealty. Even the left-leaning Meretz Party refused to include in its program a suggestion of Palestinian sovereignty in part of Jerusalem.

Yet in just a few days, the final days of Camp David, the Jerusalem Taboo was broken and swept away, never to return however things may develop from now on.

Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, a prominent Labour dove, started the avalanche apparently in tacit agreement with Barak. In a series of media interviews, Beilin stated several obvious facts: that Israeli sovereignty in the Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem is a sham, manifested in no more than occasional police raids; that their inhabitants do not feel themselves part of Israel, and in daily life the Palestinian Authority already fulfills most government functions; that Israelis rarely, if ever, set foot there.

From all these, Beilin drew in plain words the obvious conclusion: that it would do Israel no harm, and quite a bit of good, to relinquish its rule over these neighbourhoods in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians.

None of these arguments were new. Gush Shalom had been saying it for years, since publishing the "Our Jerusalem" petition in 1995 (see page 15); in the Knesset, the Communists have been reiterating it all along, and more recently, one or two Meretz dissidents.

It was an altogether different thing to hear such

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iconoclastic remarks from a senior cabinet minister on prime time TV; the dam was now broken, and a host of other mainstream figures spoke out loud what they had plainly been thinking for quite some time; veteran activists had a field day, phoning each other in amazement at each new unlikely adherent to the ranks of "The Dividers of Jerusalem."

Aryeh Amit, retired commander of the Jerusalem Police and Karmi Gilon, former head of the Shabak Security Service, went with Beilin on a highly-publicized tour of the neighbourhoods in question, supporting him with their professional expertise. (No Israeli company was willing to hire out a bus for an expedition into the Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, forcing Beilin and his fellows to charter a Palestinian bus -- which, the undaunted minister pointed out, proved his point all by itself).

'Since 1967 we have systematically and cruelly discriminated the East Jerusalem Arabs. We have forfeited the right to rule them' said Amir Cheshin, who had been "Adviser on Arab Affairs" to former Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, and who did not conceal his own part in the policies he now denounced.

Ron Ben Yishai, Yediot Aharonot's Security Commentator known to be an unofficial spokesperson for the Israeli Defence Forces High command, came out with the view that 'Division of sovereignty in Jerusalem is vital to Israel's long-term security needs', as it would significantly decrease the danger of Iran deciding to launch a missile attack upon Israel.

He was followed by Yehoram Gaon, well-known singer and middle-of-the-road Jerusalem City Councillor, declaring 'Once Jerusalem is divided, nobody will understand what the fuss was about.' (That was the same Yehoram Gaon whose sentimental nationalist songs about Jerusalem were often heard in right-wing rallies...)

After all that, it came as no surprise to hear Prime Minister Barak officially confirming, after the summit failed and he came out of Camp David, that he had indeed been considering giving up of some Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.

Our articles may be reprinted, provided they include the address The Other Israel POB 2542, Holon 58125, Israel.

Yet the summit did fail, precisely over the issue of Jerusalem. Once the media blackout was removed and negotiators spoke freely to the press, it turned out that Barak's offer -- however unprecedented and taboo-breaking it was -- was quite meagre in actual content: Barak was willing to give up sovereignty only in some of the outlying neighbourhoods of Arab Jerusalem.

Neighborhoods more towards the centre, and in particular the highly charged Old City, would stay under permanent Israeli sovereignty, with only "municipal autonomy" for the Palestinians. Moreover, in return for this partial concession, Barak demanded a more than full price: Palestinian acceptance of eleven Jewish neighbourhoods established since 1967 on confiscated Palestinian land in various parts of East Jerusalem -- and also the incorporation in a new "Jewish Jerusalem" of several large settlements established in West Bank areas near Jerusalem.

It was a deal which Arafat could not accept -- certainly not with the entire Arab and Muslim world looking over his shoulder, a billion people from Morocco to Indonesia for whom Al-Quds (The Holy One, as Jerusalem is known in Arabic) is an arousing name. As had come out, in the last hours before the conference broke up, President Clinton suggested several compromises -- playing with a "shared sovereignty" concept for Christian and Muslim holy places -- but all of them keeping significant parts of Arab Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

Too holy to be true

By all accounts the thorniest sticking point, over which the summit finally failed, was the holy compound known to Judaism as Har HaBayit (Temple Mount) where King Solomon built his Temple, and which is Haram A-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary) to Muslims, from where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven.

In practice, it had been a Muslim holy place -- Islam's third holiest -- for the past 1300 years, with Jews contenting themselves by worshiping at the nearby Wailing Wall. At present, Palestinian pilgrims flock to the place in their hundreds of thousands on Muslim Holidays, while only a few dozen Jews, of extreme-right sects, try to enter it. These extremists are defying a Centuries-old Rabbinical opinion that the Mount is too Holy to be traversed by mortal feet until the coming of the Messiah. But also Rabbis who keep the old prohibition are vociferously indignant at the idea that formal Israeli sovereignty over the place be waived...

Barak offered a compromise: Palestinians would get "Religious Sovereignty"over the sensitive compound, while Israel would retain the "Political Sovereignty." What this amounted to, in down to earth terms, was that the Muslim religious authorities would administer the compound in daily life (as they have been doing, in fact, since 1967), but that any riots or disturbances would still be dealt with by Israeli Police. Against the background of the well-remembered trauma of 1991, when an Israeli Police incursion into this Holy Compound ended with nineteen Muslim worshipers shot down, Arafat couldn't agree to a "shared sovereignty" which would leave him with no more than symbolic control. And so, the summit collapsed.

Since there was no agreement on Jerusalem, nothing at all was agreed upon -- not even Palestinian statehood, which in fact nobody disputes anymore. And thus, there emerged a very real possibility that the Palestinians will unilaterally declare their independent state and proclaim East Jerusalem its capital.

In such a case, asserting the new sovereignty beyond the present narrow Palestinian-held enclaves -- for example in and around the settlements, and perhaps in Jerusalem as well -- would almost certainly lead to bloody clashes, which may well go down in history as the Palestinian War of Independence. Israeli youths

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in uniform, most of them secularists who care little for Temple Mount and its Biblical glories, would get killed and would kill Palestinian youngsters -- armed with more than stones this time...


While failing to get an agreement in Camp David, Prime Minister Barak did achieve what was clearly one of his main objectives: to get the Americans squarely on his side, effectively rolling back many of the diplomatic gains which the Palestinians achieved since President Clinton's visit to Gaza in December 1998.

The extent of the new American position was revealed in a special interview granted by Clinton to Israeli TV. Abandoning all pretense at impartiality, the President threatened the Palestinians with cessation of economic aid and other severe measures should they declare independence unilaterally (the kind of threat never remotely employed when Israel built settlements or effected unilateral annexations).

Also, he declared his intention to move the US Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, even without an agreement about the city's status -- the kind of precipitous unilateral American move which all previous presidents had avoided, and for good reason. Clinton's position was openly criticized by Jimmy Carter (NY Times, 6.8).

However, Barak was not entirely successful in another related objective: to convince the peace-minded part of Israeli society that he had done all that could be done, that the failure was entirely due to Arafat's intransigence, and that -- therefore -- a war which may break out would be justified.

True, some of those with a dovish reputation could be heard singing the refrain: the writer Amos Oz, for one, in a sharp anti-Arafat article published in the New York Times. However, the Meretz Party -- which often treats Oz as its Guru -- did not fall in. Party Leader Yossi Sarid made clear that Meretz's continuing support for Barak is dependent upon his "continuing to work for peace." He also made up for past timidity on the issue of Jerusalem by proclaiming: 'Meretz does not wish for Israeli sovereignty in any Arab neighbourhood of Jerusalem, nor in any Muslim holy place.'

Also, the mild mannered Amnon Shahak -- former Army Chief-of-Staff and present Tourism Minister, who had been with Barak in Camp David -- said 'There are still some stones we have left unturned in these negotiations.'

Meanwhile, the prospect of confrontation with the Palestinians is already bringing out an incipient upsurge of protest by soldiers' mothers, of the kind which proved so significant with regard to Lebanon, as well as renewed activity by the Yesh Gvul movement of rebellious reserve soldiers. In any case, even had he seriously intended to form a joint cabinet with the Likud and go to war, the right-wing has no intention of cooperating. They just want to topple Barak.

Once Foreign Minister Levy tendered his expected resignation and joined the opposition, the right-wing gained an effective Knesset majority which it immediately proceeded to use. When the Knesset met to elect the new President of Israel, Labour's candidate -- Shimon Peres, the world-renowned statesman -- was defeated by the mediocre Moshe Katsav of the Likud. Of little practical effect in itself, since the Israeli presidency is a purely titular office, it was a great symbolic defeat -- especially since it was followed by the Knesset giving preliminary approval to an Early Elections Bill.

And hard upon the right-wing's attacks, Ehud Barak's position was assailed from within his own Labour Party. Challengers such as the popular Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg would openly confront him for the party leadership -- unless Barak were able to produce a peace agreement in the near future.

On the international level, efforts are apparently being made to renew the talks, with the revival of old and the introduction of new formulas for the holy parts of Jerusalem and efforts to involve Muslim states, Christian churches and the rivalling clergy of all three Monotheistic religions...

Since Arafat's return from Camp David, Palestinian forces have been given strict orders to avoid any kind of incident -- clearly indicating that they still hope for an agreement; ironically, the Territories now seem more quiet than they have been in quite a while. The hero's welcome given to Arafat upon his return, and his people's evident willingness to follow him in what may become a grim struggle for independence, do something to offset the manifestly biased American position.

Clearly, Barak has no viable alternative for his own political survival but to achieve an agreement with the Palestinians. The Knesset recess, lasting until the end of October during which time no motions of confidence may be voted upon, gives him one last breathing spell.
Ehud Barak can still snatch victory -- for himself and for the cause of peace -- out of the jaws of impending doom, make a historic peace and present it for the people's approval in elections or referendum. Opinion polls indicate that this is quite a real and practicable possibility; so do the right-wing's angry howls whenever this idea is mooted. But it is going to be a dangerous and lonely commando raid for Peacemaker Barak.

The editors


Polls on the move

On the evening of July 22 -- the second week of the Camp David conference, when rumours had it that Barak was on his way to make major concessions about Jerusalem -- Israeli TV broadcast the results of a specially-conducted opinion poll. Asked 'Do you support the division of Jerusalem in return for peace?', 70% of those asked answered "No" and only 23% answered "Yes". Hardly a surprising result, after three decades of brainwashing by the political system. In fact, the 23% in favor was more than double the percentage of all votes given in the 1999

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election to parties supporting a divided sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Two weeks later (August 4), in a poll conducted by Yediot Aharonot, 41% responded affirmatively to the question: 'Should Israel accept a Palestinian State comprising 95% of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem?' Moreover, when asked 'Regardless of your own views, do you think that a Palestinian capital in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem will come about?', the "Yes" answer scored 70%.

According to senior commentator Sever Plotzker, the results give a strong indication that a peace agreement providing for a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem would be approved by a majority of the Israeli electorate. "The 41% in favor is high for an agreement on terms which until recently were acceptable only to fringe groups (sic)."

Another point he made was that the poll had been conducted after Camp David failed. Experience has shown that support for a measure grows when it becomes government policy. For example, a year ago 38% supported unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon; after the fact, there is near blanket support.

The same kind of shift occurred on negotiating with the PLO -- public support jumped in 1993, when Rabin signed the Oslo Agreement. Or, a still earlier example: in 1978, when Begin agreed to give up the Sinai, the support for such a step jumped within a few months from 20% to a majority (Yediot Aharonot, Aug. 4).

+++ May 24, "Jerusalem Day" -- the state holiday marking the "Unification of Jerusalem" -- prefigured the breaking of the taboo: an unprecedented Human Rights Fair was held outside the Jaffa Gate, at the joint initiative of the Palestinian LAW and the Israeli Netivot Shalom, a religious peace group and involving a whole spectrum of Jerusalem human rights organizations.

The Bat Shalom women held their own vigil to protest the provocative settler marches, and Peace Now protested outside the house bought by Likud leader Ariel Sharon in the heart of the Muslim Quarter. (He rarely stays there, but the house is heavily guarded day and night by police and private guards.)


It doesn't make sense otherwise

Beate Zilversmidt

In general I try to avoid being caught up in excitement orchestrated by the media. But this time, with the Camp David spectacle, I didn't keep my cool. Now that it's over I am embarrassed to admit that I probably didn't sleep more in those weeks than the negotiating team members. There was the feeling that this piece of theatre was, in effect, creating exactly the atmosphere in which the players could more easily afford to deviate from their previous absolute commitments -- without losing too much credibility.

Now that the talks ended in failure, the question which continues to puzzle me is how does what we learned about what happened there relate to the comments made afterwards.

We were more or less told that on all issues aside from the one pertaining to Jerusalem, sufficient agreement was reached to formulate a draft, acceptable to both sides, of a final settlement of the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We came to understand that the package consisted of agreement on annexation of settlement blocks, within a land exchange deal; Israeli acceptance of a Palestinian state, conditional on the continued presence of the Israeli army on the Jordanian border; it was hinted that a formula for the refugee problem was within reach and that this subject would not be a stumbling block -- that Israel would agree to the right of return of Palestinians to the Palestinian State-To-Be and allow a limited number of refugees into Israel for humanitarian reasons. The remaining problems would be solved with support from an international fund to which Israel would generously contribute.

Those who wanted us to believe that this had been accepted by Arafat as the final word about the whole issue of Palestinian refugee rights didn't seem to realize that -- if true -- it would be a major concession from the Palestinian side. It is hardly believable that Arafat would, by signing such a "final agreement" waive, in one stroke of the pen, further claims of each and every Palestinian refugee.

It was repeated again afterwards that Jerusalem had been the only sticking point. Barak had been seen moving on that issue and being creative -- by speaking about the possibility of giving up the Arab villages (neighborhoods, he called them), which anyhow had only belonged to Jerusalem according to the unilateral annexation by Israel of 1967. There also had been some playing with the word sovereignty: "religious sovereignty" as opposed to "political sovereignty."

One should not forget that West Jerusalem had not been discussed at all, neither were the Jewish "neighborhoods" (the settlement ring around Arab Jerusalem), nor the Wailing Wall, or the Armenian and Jewish Quarter within the Old City Walls. In all these parts Israel would maintain full sovereignty, religious and political. The creative idea was to share the sovereignty over the Arab-inhabited parts and over Muslim and Christian holy places.

There were the already mentioned outskirt Arab "neighborhoods" which Barak was willing to yield to full Palestinian sovereignty; the Arabs living in the more central part of East Jerusalem, but outside the Old City, would remain under Israeli sovereignty, although with municipal autonomy, allowing them to have their own police whereas inside the Old City Palestinians would have "religious sovereignty" over the Muslim and the Christian parts, with Israel keeping for itself the political sovereignty, which means: Israeli police there.

Arafat would probably have been willing to consider Barak's Jerusalem proposals as a temporary solution, which would be reconsidered after five or ten years. But Barak, facing no fewer problems of convincing his home front, was willing to offer this Jerusalem concession -- which was after all breaking

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an Israeli taboo, the taboo of "dividing Jerusalem" -- only if he could go to the Israeli voters with: "an end to the conflict -- no more future concessions."

Clinton could have told Barak, and maybe he did: if you are already breaking a taboo then don't do it halfheartedly and at least make sure that it gets you the agreement. Whether or not he spoke like that to Barak we can only guess, but what we do know is that President Clinton, after it was clear that he wasn't going to get more from Barak, made an extreme effort to get Arafat to accept what he had been able to squeeze on his behalf out of the Israeli side.

And then it was all over and Clinton immediately stopped playing "honest broker." He took sides.

It seemed to be, not only unfair but incomprehensible, that Clinton put all the blame of not achieving an agreement on Arafat alone, and even went as far as a diatribe against the Palestinians with economic threats and the announcement of his inclination to move the US Embassy from Tel-Aviv to (West)-Jerusalem before year's end.

It would be easy just to conclude that it was all set up as a trap, and that there was never any serious intention of peacemaking. But if that was so why demonstrate such vile motives so openly and so immediately? Could there be another explanation?

It was clear that the two leaders Barak and Arafat, by going to Camp David, were walking a tightrope. Both were rapidly losing popularity, and one could even wonder whether either of them would be able to carry through whatever concession he would be persuaded to make by an American President, himself at the end of his term.

Could it be that the three, in the isolation of the Camp David woods, had concocted a secret plan? How to give first aid to the ailing Ehud Barak so as to enable him to take tough decisions? How to strengthen Arafat's position at the same time sufficiently to allow him to convince his people: "Look, I turned you from miserable refugees into Palestinians with a proud Palestinian home; you saw me holding out during those two weeks with the most powerful leader on earth. This is what I got for you, not more and not less."

And, it cannot be denied that at that point there was a kind of paradoxical harmony. By scolding Arafat for not being flexible Clinton would simultaneously strengthen both the Palestinian leader and PM Barak: Barak, because he would have regained for the state of Israel its indispensable "special relationship with the US"; Arafat, because he would be seen as the tougher negotiator.

And, to go even farther with this (I admit) surrealistic scenario: Clinton who still has nearly half a year before giving the torch to his successor would after some time have to swing again in the other direction, in order to appease the Arab World, which would by then be rallying behind Arafat. Such an apparently necessary move would enable Clinton to persuade Barak to that last half step -- "the most difficult part you did already" -- and to allow Arafat the success of full sovereignty in Arab East Jerusalem. A success which he would need so dearly to get his people to accept that the suffering of generations would not be lifted by full restoration of what had been lost, but that their suffering and endurance had helped him to attain for them and the coming generations their own state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and with Al-Quds as its capital.


Deja vu

Daphna Levit

'Do the leaders of Israel share the madness of King Lear or the wisdom of Solomon?' -- question raised in a conference on the economic feasibility of peace, August 1995.

To any impartial observer, the economic logic for peace in the region is hardly debatable: Israelis and Palestinians are geographically and physically intermingled. They have to interact! They have to share resources! And there can be no serious refutation of the long term cost effectiveness of cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure, medicine, energy, water, transport or telecommunications. How can the continued impoverishment of the Palestinians and the disadvantageous allocation of power and wealth not be perceived as detrimental to both Israelis and Palestinians? How long can a peace process last before it becomes its own heaviest burden? Today the disarray in the Israeli political system is apparent to all. But have we seen much change in the past five years?

It seems that the government of Israel has gone totally mad, (perhaps not for the very first time). Barak, a military hero, ex-Chief of Staff, a leader with no particular history of dovish extremism appears to be taking a stand that could risk his political future, the Labour party's leadership and possibly the survival of Israel.

Like Rabin, Barak is a man whose loyalty and commitment has never been doubted and who has been regarded as one of the least controversial heroes across the gamut of political ideologies and religious orthodoxies. Suddenly such a man dares make statements that strike terror in the hearts of his opponents, but also terrify the prosperity seekers in his own party. He is threatening that the price of peace may be greater than we had estimated and might have to be paid with huge sums of money to be given by Israel, money from our pockets. This was not the traditional rhetoric of a political leader ahead of an election. It could be that he has resigned himself to a major defeat and is going for broke or that he truly believes Israel has no other option and peace must be achieved now.

During the years leading to Rabin's assassination the Israeli economy drew a lot of interest and foreign investors came to participate in what they hoped would be the dividends of peace. As we progressed more determinedly towards peace, the entire region, with Israel as its most advanced market, attracted attention as the next high-growth economic region.

Today the euphoria at the prospect of peace in the region is, at best, very subdued. The region does not

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appear quite so economically compelling to foreign investors and the perceived risks (of instability) are not diminishing. Foreigners still invest in high-tech, but they are unexcited at the imminent economic benefits of regional prosperity. Israelis themselves doubt that the consequences of peace could be prosperity.

It is such a shame that the few politicians willing to stake their careers -- and possibly even their lives -- for peace have not stressed the economy of peace in their domestic campaigns. Israel is torn by ideologies and convictions that have little to do with daily life. Extremists are loud and vocal and the issues themselves are practically metaphysical, almost beyond resolution. And yet what are the overriding concerns of the Israeli public: their jobs, their salaries, their standard of living, their homes and their pensions. Why not address these concerns with a straightforward response: peace provides the necessary condition for prosperity.


The rally that wasn't

Adam Keller

The Israeli peace movement was not at its best during Camp David. The right-wing had been up in arms since June -- the time when leaks from the "Stockholm Back-Channel" spoke of Barak being willing to relinquish "90% to 95%" of the West Bank. Ever since, the settlers have been mobilizing their followers, who turned up for increasingly bigger demonstrations. But there was no comparable mobilization of peace-minded Israelis.

There were some who completely distrusted Barak -- especially those monitoring the West Bank situation and finding occupation business as usual, with all its routine nastiness, and settlements continuing to expand with government funding. "Defend Barak against the settlers? No, thank you. Better confront the occupation which Barak is implementing -- the house demolitions, the denial of water to the Palestinians, the creation of bypass roads at the expanse of Palestinian land...."

A new group of radicals in Haifa instituted, with a lot of enthusiasm and energy, a weekly anti-occupation vigil on the outskirts of their city -- dedicated to the idea that the whole Peace Process is a sham which could only lead to "an Israeli Apartheid controlling a Palestinian Bantustan."

On the other side of the peace spectrum were those who felt the PM was doing fine and the settler demonstrations were unimportant pin-pricks. Barak himself helped create this impression; he acted supremely confident and unperturbed. (Rabin had also acted like that in 1995 -- but people sometimes have short memories.)

And then, too, the traditional constituency of the Israeli peace camp is intermittently drained of people who get more excited about the struggle against the religious domination of Israeli life, and who particularly resent those Rabbis who preach nationalism but also insist that their own disciples be exempted from military service.

With the news that exemption for the religious was about to be enacted into law, (hitherto it was implemented as an administrative measure), a group of reservists in their twenties started a hunger strike outside the Prime Minister's office. Their protest soon gathered momentum, receiving enormous media coverage and gathering considerable support -- mostly from Barak voters chagrined with the PM's support for the exemption bill.

Nevertheless, the protesters' main demand, to have the ultra-Orthodox youth conscripted "like everybody else", had no chance of success. Not only because the rabbis command a powerful political lobby. The army itself has more than enough manpower and no desire to conscript the young Orthodox -- certainly not against their will. The whole development of Israeli society is in the opposite direction.

The idea of abolishing conscription altogether -- hitherto advocated only by radical groups like New Profile -- is more and more taken up as the only practicable way to achieve "equality of service" between secularist and religious. The generals themselves, it appears, are making contingency plans to phase out conscription, based on the experience of colleagues in many Western countries.

Meanwhile, the young men who had conducted the hunger strike dispersed in anger and frustration, much of it directed at the Prime Minister who had let the exemption bill pass. Hundreds returned their Military Reserve Cards to the Army Command in protest; others, who had been active in Barak's election campaign, wrote to him: "Goodbye, this is the last you will hear of us."


As it happened, all this took place precisely one week before President Clinton issued the dramatic summons to Barak and Arafat, to attend the summit in Camp David -- following which the settlers and the right-wing opposition stepped up their demonstrations. On the eve of his departure, Barak issued a sudden personal appeal to the peace movement, "Do not abandon the streets to the right-wingers!!" And thus it could happen that, during the two weeks of Camp David, representatives of different peace movements gathered repeatedly at the meeting room in the basement of the Kibbutz Movement Headquarters in Tel-Aviv, to deliberate at length profound questions, such as: "Has the anger about the Exemption Bill dissipated? Will the masses come? Will enough come to fill the square?"

The Camp David Summit had brought into being a heterogeneous coalition: Barak's own Labourite supporters; the veteran peaceniks of Meretz and Peace Now; the kibbutzniks with their organizational experience and ... their considerable resources (even now with the Kibbutz Movement in obvious decline); the Blue Shirt youth movements side by side with the more outspoken Gush Shalom activists, willing to suspend their distrust of Ehud Barak and give his peace efforts the benefit of the doubt. The coalition -- Mateh HaShalom, the Peace Headquarters -- kicked off to a good start with a rally outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem on the

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second day of the summit. Several thousands of enthusiastic, mostly young people were addressed by speakers from a broad spectrum of the left. And there was documentary footage of the martyred Yitzchak Rabin, projected on a huge screen.

When Nava Barak, the PM's wife, waded through the crowd to reach the podium there was much clapping and cheering; there was also clapping and cheering when Meretz Leader Yossi Sarid issued a warning ('We will continue to support Barak, as long as he continues to lead us towards peace...'). Altogether the event was a success -- considering the fact that it was conducted at little more than twenty- four hours' notice and in Jerusalem, which is not exactly a bastion of the peace movement.

It was no substitute for a really big peace rally, the kind of rally which is extensively advertised in advance and ahead of which all movements and groups exert themselves to the utmost. The kind of rally for which there is already a very familiar location, Tel-Aviv's Rabin Square, where important rallies have taken place ever since the original Camp David of Begin and Saddat and Carter, twenty-two years ago.

Such a rally was, in fact, planned down to the minute logistical detail; VIP's -- politicians, writers, artists, professors, ex-generals who support peace -- had pledged to come and address the crowd. Chemi Sal of the Kibbutz Movement -- who had organized more rallies than anyone can remember -- got the necessary permits from the police and municipal authorities; Tel-Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai even agreed to put off the scheduled open-air performance of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, an event for which the municipality had invested considerable sums of money -- so as not to have it draw crowds away from the peace rally. Everything was ready -- except the big unknown: how many people would come? Would the people in the outer circle, those who come only to big events, be sufficiently aroused from their lethargy?

Meanwhile, the settlers held their own anti-peace rally, in that very same square and were reported to have gathered some 150,000 participants. (Most of them bused in from the settlements, much fewer coming from Tel-Aviv itself -- but that was not apparent and made no difference to the big photos on the front pages and the TV footage broadcast around the world.) Obviously, there should have been a response from the Peace Camp. Just as obviously, a response which would not have brought out at the very least the same number of participants would have been a failure. Could we afford to take the risk? Could we afford to wait and delay? The final upshot was to hold the big rally only after an agreement is achieved: a big televised ceremony on the White House lawn, which would galvanize the public and sweep away the doubts and hesitations. Barak himself would be the star speaker ("Bring him directly from the airport to the Square, it will create a dramatic effect").

Of course, Barak's people may have had a hidden agenda. A really big peace rally in Israel, prominently reported in the international media, might weaken the PM's position towards Arafat, make it more difficult to claim that Barak could not make concessions because of opposition inside Israel. Better have a rally only after the agreement is signed and sealed ...

And so, since no agreement came about, there wasn't a big rally either.


All of the above does not imply that the Peace Headquarters achieved nothing. Quite a lot of smaller actions, involving people from different groups, did penetrate the public sphere. The rallying point throughout these tense two weeks was the Peace Tent established in the Rabin Square, where the Bereaved Families' Forum maintained a tireless constant presence. And activists stood at the junctions of intercity highways, holding up signs 'The Majority voted for Peace!' They formed long cavalcades of private cars (on the Tel-Aviv-Haifa Highway) and bicycles (on the streets of Tel-Aviv) and even went rafting across the Sea of Galilee -- with cars, cycles and rafts all bearing that same slogan. They went out night after night to put up placards and posters and stickers, occasionally getting into fistfights with crews from the opposite camp. They set up additional peace tents in Jerusalem and Haifa and confronted right-wingers across police cordons when they swarmed in for their rally in the Rabin Square...

At the Wailing Wall, a Prayer for Peace was initiated by the moderate religious movement Meimad; there were some two hundred participants, including kibbutzniks who usually don't pray at all, and considerable media attention (political prayers on this spot are almost invariably right-wing). For their part, the Generals for Peace (several hundred ex-generals and ex-colonels, officially known as The Council for Peace and Security) were busily touring the country, speaking to varied audiences and drawing on the authority of their military expertise to insist that "territorial concessions for peace are good for Israel"; they also arrived at the "National Unity Tent" erected in Jerusalem by the recently-resigned minister Nathan Sharansky, where the ex-generals berated the former Prisoner of Zion for "not giving peace a chance." And the United States had its own branch of the Peace Headquarters, with Israeli activist Naftali Raz organizing daily peace vigils in front of the UN at New York and as near as they could get to Camp David itself.

Perhaps the most important achievement in these two weeks was the intense contact established between bereaved families from both sides of the national divide -- unprecedented not only during a century of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also, according to a visiting American expert, in the history of national conflict in general. To those who witnessed them, they were unforgettable scenes: the visit of the Palestinian families to the Tel-Aviv tent; the hours of prolonged, very emotional dialogue; the march of Israeli and Palestinian parents together through the streets of Tel-Aviv, holding the banner "Barak and Arafat, you have a mandate to take one more step for peace"; the ceremony outside the

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Apropos Cafe, where a Hamas bomb exploded in March 1997 -- addressed by Zehava Rosen, whose daughter was one of those killed in the explosion; the return visit of the Israeli families to the Palestinian Peace Tent, erected in Gaza.

The man who kept the Peace Tent going day after day with boundless energy was Yitzchak Frankenthal -- a religious man from Moshav Gimzo, for whom the tragic circumstances of his son's death gave rise to an overriding sense of personal commitment to peace. "Already before it happened, I had been in favor of peace -- in my mind -- but I did not act; I was a 'peace impotent.' I didn't do anything to make what I believed in come true. And then Arik was killed by a Hamas squad. He got killed because there was no peace. So, since then I have been working to bring peace closer. I try to make up for the past. As bereaved parents, we have a certain moral standing in the Israeli society. Not only do I believe that I have the right to make use of it -- I see it as a duty."

The Peace Tent was not just a place for bereaved families. Every evening there were meetings, lectures and discussions -- a place where people, sick with the anxiety of listening to every news broadcast, could come to exchange the latest of the contradicting rumours; activists set out from the tent to distribute bumper stickers and leaflets in the streets of Tel-Aviv; at the entrance, signatures were collected on rivaling petitions, sent to Barak (or at least, to his aides) by fax or email. (One petition simply read "We support your efforts to bring peace"; the other, initiated by the Bat Shalom women, called upon the PM to accept the 1967 borders and a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem). Non-stop discussions and debates went on all the time, inside the tent and on the pavement outside the entrance, involving people from a variety of peace groups, visiting Palestinians, right-wingers, chance by-passers attracted by the noise and the big signs.

Even when settlers had set up a rival tent on the other side of the square, discussion mostly went on in a restrained and civilized manner -- due especially to Frankenthal's authoritative patience and empathy, and his willingness to listen.

On the last evening, with the news of the summit's failure, dozens of dejected activists gathered at the tent, drawing comfort from each other and listening to some "pep-talk" from Gavri Bargil of the Kibbutz Movement: "We lost one round, but the struggle continues." Suddenly, somebody turned on the radio. It was Barak's press conference, transmitted live, where he put the entire blame for the failure on Arafat, using some contrived rhetoric. It became obvious that, at least for the immediate future, the time had come for a parting of the ways; the Peace Headquarters had been built on the assumption that Barak would return with a peace agreement, around which moderates and radicals could unite in further campaigning.

There was no overt separation that evening, between the activists who had been very intensively together for two weeks. But on the following day, Gush Shalom people started drafting and distributing statements condemning Barak's use of threatening language ("We have to be willing to fight"; "Jewish holies will never be given up", etc.). At the same time, others organized a support rally outside the PM's residence. The TV crews crowded around the just-arrived Barak as he moved straight through the crowd (to the chagrin of his bodyguards). In this milieu, the PM did make a somewhat more dovish and conciliatory statement; a youngster holding a hand-written sign 'Continuing on the way to peace' was seen on the TV screen just behind his back.

As soon became public knowledge, several Peace Nowers had participated in that rally quite reluctantly. 'We have had enough of being Barak's cheer-leaders. We should strike out on our own. Peace Now has a good peace program of its own, we should mobilize public support for it, independently of what Barak does in the negotiations' was how it was put by Aryeh Arnon (Ha'aretz, 27.7.2000).

Then the Peace Now secretariat decided that the time was ripe to take up 'Jerusalem -- Capital of two peoples.' And, indeed, when the ultra-right Women in Green together with Jerusalem Mayor Olmart marched provocatively around the Old City Walls (August 9), they were met by Peace Now, with the new placards: One City -- Two Capitals.

The Bereaved Parents' Forum undertook an especially delicate task: to try and convince the Orthodox community of the need to make a compromise in Jerusalem. Ads placed in right-wing papers argued, on the basis of Biblical quotations, that God's dwelling among His People in Jerusalem will not be achieved by force and material rule, but primarily by moral behavior, and that peace achieved through a compromise in Jerusalem and the saving of lives is not only compatible with the Commandments of Judaism but constitutes their fulfillment (Makor Rishon 4/8). According to Yitzchak Frankenthal, there have been many responses -- some of them positive, and quite a few of the negative ones opening the possibility of a fruitful dialogue.

Meanwhile, the very concrete specter of war woke up the Yesh Gvul ("There is a Border") movement, which had an important role in organizing the reserve soldiers who refused to take part both in the Lebanon War and, later, in the clampdown on the Intifada. The group instituted a regular weekly vigil outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, with the slogan 'There are wars to which we won't go!' Signatures are being collected on a petition declaring any war caused by the government's refusal to withdraw to the 1967 borders to be illegitimate. (Two petitions, in fact: one of reservists declaring their refusal to serve in such a war, the other -- of citizens supporting the refusers).

Atalya Baumel -- the mother of a soldier (and of a younger son about to be conscripted) who already received considerable notoriety as a fire brand in connection to Lebanon -- started to bombard the papers with outspoken letters and statements, and had considerable success in getting them printed. ('The summit failed because both sides had contradictory Red Lines, lines which they could not cross because of

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religious fanaticism and selfish nationalism. Well, I -- a mother -- have my own Red Lines. For me, the lives of my children are holy. I am just not going to let them be sent off to war!' -- Ha'aretz, July 27).

For its part, the official Four Mothers organization -- which had disbanded itself after its great success, the withdrawal from Lebanon -- came back into action. In an ad it heartily thanked Barak for "having extracted our children from the Lebanese hell" and implored him to now give "the same kind of intensive treatment" to the achievement of peace with the Palestinians (Ha'aretz, 7.8). No Prime Minister could afford to ignore such an appeal, taking into account that Four Mothers are generally credited with having influenced government policy more than any other grassroots organization in Israeli history...
Bereaved Families for Peace
33 Moshav Gamzo Israel 73130


Dispossessed of water

On the morning of June 28 a curious cavalcade set out from Tel-Aviv, via Jerusalem, to the Palestinian town of Yatta on the southern edge of the West Bank. Two buses, several private cars, four water tankers and a small truck, loaded with bottles of mineral water, headed towards Yatta bearing a large sign with the slogan "Water for Ishmael -- Just like for Israel."

Travelling southwards by the Israeli-held highway, the cavalcade turned into a dusty side road, crossed a road-block manned by two Palestinian soldiers and then the one-storey houses of Yatta started to appear. At the main plaza, where a crowd of townspeople was waiting, some hundred activists disembarked -- members of B'tselem, the human rights organization which initiated the event, as well as other groups such as Gush Shalom and the Rabbis for Human Rights. The children's scrambling for water bottles was caught by a Ha'aretz photographer, to be prominently displayed on the following day.

"You see how it is" the Mayor of Yatta told the mixed crowd of Israeli activists and townspeople from his improvised platform. "We have been defined as Area A, under Palestinian rule. But what good does that do, when we are still completely dependent on the trickle of water which the Israeli occupation authorities are pleased to leave us, a small fraction of what the people of this town need? We have divided Yatta into fourteen sectors. Each sector gets water in their taps for two or three days, then they are dry for a month to forty-five days." Asked how the townspeople survive for the rest of the time, he gave an astonishing answer: the settlers, who get an abundance of water, quietly sell some of it to Palestinians at exorbitant prices. The settlers pay the government three Shekels per cubic metre, demanding -- and getting -- thirty Shekels from their thirsty Palestinian customers. "What choice do we have?"

A protest rally followed, with Israeli and Palestinian speakers condemning the unbearable injustice. B'tselem had managed to bring to Yatta an array of disparate VIP's: Hadash Knesset Member Muhammad Barake, the veteran Uri Avnery, TV and Radio host Avri Gilad, the singer Amal Murkus and even the maverick settler Rabbi Menachem Froman. Israelis among the audience, sweating under the hot sun, waved their signs: "Shalt thou occupy, and dry up too?" and "Settlers Swim, Palestinians Thirst" -- all the while uneasily aware that in a few hours they would be back home taking a shower..

+++ At the end of June and the beginning of July, several more actions were taken to increase public awareness: vigils were held in the centre of Jerusalem and near the Yarkon River in northern Tel-Aviv; a West Bank tour for diplomats was organized and attended by representatives from several European countries and a single American -- some were really shocked when confronted with the true dimensions of the problem; the Peace Now youths picked up the issue and published a sharply-worded leaflet of their own...

+++ Meanwhile, B'tselem came out with a detailed, well-researched brochure under the title 'Thirsty for a Solution' -- which included the testimonies of Palestinians, a detailed description of the Israeli occupation's bureaucratic practices where water is concerned, and possible solutions based on the principle of "equitable and reasonable use" as enshrined in international law, according to which an equal amount of water should be allotted per person in countries which have to share water sources.
B'Tselem, 43 Emek Refaim St. J'lem,


On June 5 -- which happened to be the 33rd anniversary of Israel's conquest of the West Bank -- some 40 activists of the Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) arrived at the Beit El Military Court, to express solidarity with the 60-year old Ahmad Shamasna, charged with "illegally building" a home for his family of 15 on his own plot of land at Qatana Village.

Also present were ex-minister Shulamit Aloni, and Mairead Maguire, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace for her work in Northern Ireland. The judge hesitated whether or not to accept the testimonies of foreign experts challenging the entire military system of (not) granting building permits to Palestinians, and in the end delayed the trial by two months. Meanwhile, the news came of a Palestinian house being demolished at Walljeh Village south of Jerusalem.

The activists rushed there and found the demolition crews just gone and the Halifa Family, with the help of neighbours, already starting to rebuild their home. The Israelis joined in, as did Maguire.

A week later, on June 13th, another "illegal" house was demolished, this time the large home in which the Magribi Family of Jabel Mukabar in East Jerusalem had invested all their savings; they were not even allowed to take out their furniture and personal belongings before the bulldozers started work. Several Palestinian human rights activists who tried to interfere were arrested, as was ICAHD Coordinator Jeff Halper.

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It soon turned out that the new wave of demolitions was inspired by Interior Minister Nathan Sharansky -- the former Soviet dissident. A weekly protest vigil was started outside Sharansky's private home, in a pleasant tree-lined Jerusalem street. It lasted three weeks, attended by some fifty people each week. On the fourth week, Sharansky resigned -- to be sure, not because of this protest but because of Camp David; still, it seems that Sharansky was moved by the protests to publish a long article, in which he rather pathetically tried to prove that he still was "as faithful to human rights as he had been in the Soviet prison."

Meanwhile, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem instituted a court case to have the Aqel Family of Mount Scopus -- 52 people living in six houses -- turned out so that their homes may be demolished and the nearby student dormitories extended. (The dormitories were built in the seventies on land earlier confiscated from the Aqels.)

The case aroused protests inside the university itself; the Ta Adam student group collected hundreds of signature on a petition and held protest vigils outside the court. A petition of lecturers is also being prepared, as well as a worldwide campaign of protests.
Protests to:
Prof. Megidor, President, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem;
copies to:
Yoav Hass, 5 Even Israel, J'lem;
or: ICAHD, 37 Tveria St., J'lem,


Jerusalem petition relaunched

On the morning of July 15, a bus load of Gush Shalom supporters set out for Abu-Dis, a Palestinian suburb of Jerusalem. The action was scheduled weeks in advance, in order to remind Prime Minister Barak of his still-unfulfilled pledge to hand over the place to full Palestinian control -- and also to protest at the site in Abu Dis which Irving Moskovitz, the provocative millionaire of Miami Beach, has chosen for the creation of yet another settler "neighborhood.

Meanwhile, the Camp David Summit was underway, and was the main topic in the meeting with Palestinian officials -- as it also was in the later meeting with professors and students at the campus of Al-Quds University. "At present, I have my headquarters here in Abu Dis, but I am empowered in the entire Jerusalem District as defined by Jordanian Law, including East Jerusalem" said Jamal Abu Nasser, the Palestinian Governor. "Eventually, I intend to take up the former Jordanian Governor's Headquarters on Salah a-Din Street, now held by the Israeli Ministry of Justice."

"Not a bad idea!" replied Uri Avnery, peace activist and former Knesset Member. "Much better than the existing situation of Israel having its Ministry of Justice in Occupied Territory, annexed in contravention of International Law."

Gush Shalom had brought a present for its Palestinian hosts - a framed copy of the text of "Our Jerusalem, Capital of Two States", the petition in Hebrew, English and Arabic, which was circulated back in 1995 and was then signed by many hundreds of Israeli intellectuals and artists, as well as by important Palestinian leaders (see TOI-67, p.24).

Both channels of the Israeli TV sent crews to the meeting, and featured it prominently again and again in their respective news magazines -- as did several international TV stations. The reason for the extraordinary coverage seemed obvious: Jerusalem, and proposals on how to reconcile the two peoples living in it, had become hot politics and a primary news item. These circumstances strengthened Gush Shalom's resolve to relaunch the petition. Not as it was five years ago, as an act of defiance by a band of heretics - but this time, as a kind of friendly advice to a government and a Prime Minister who need support for the final push. At this crucial time it was decided to spend the money needed for placing ads - not only in the respectable and reasonably priced Ha'aretz, but also in the Jerusalem Post and in Ma'ariv and Yediot Aharonot, which have a much wider circulation but are outrageously expensive.

Here, then, is the text, which required no change, not even one word.

Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and Palestinians;

Muslims, Christian and Jews.

Our Jerusalem is a mosaic of all the cultures, all

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the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from the earliest antiquity to this very day - Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites, Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis. They and all the others who made their contribution to the city have a place in the spiritual and physical landscape of Jerusalem.

Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed-wire in its midst.

Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country -- West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine.

Our Jerusalem must be
the Capital of Peace.

Donations to help defray the cost of this ad to:
Gush Shalom, pob 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033;
Signatories list at



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For three transgressions

Uri Avnery

For three transgressions of Barak, and for four, I will not turn away thereof*: because of the arrogance, the ignorance and the lack of leadership.
* Paraphrasing the Bible, Amos 1

The arrogance: This is the disease of occupation officers. They are unable to look at Arabs as equals. The contempt for Arabs has penetrated their souls and disarranged their minds.

When Arafat said in the past that he would never give up sovereignty over the holy places of Islam, nobody listened. An Arab is babbling something, so what? "We know the Arabs." An Arab always cheats, evades, prevaricates, quibbles, equivocates, lies, schemes, tricks. He is sneaky by nature.

The attitude towards the Arab -- any Arab -- is like that of the border policeman towards an old Arab at the checkpoint. There is never any real negotiation, which would mean listening to him, trying to understand his motives, or to find the way for a compromise. What for?

An Arab must be told what to do. One has to make him an offer he can't refuse and to demand an "answer." An Arab has to "internalize" what we tell him. An Arab has to "mature." One has to "make it clear" to him. (All these are now preferred Hebrew expressions.) If the Arab does not accept what you tell him, "there is nobody to talk with."

So says the general, and so say and write his media stooges, correspondents, commentators, "our special correspondents for..."

Throughout the summit not one single word of courtesy, respect, not to mention appreciation, appeared in the Israeli media about the Palestinian delegation and its leader. After all, our side is always talking to them logically, offering them more than is reasonable. We always know what's good for them. And they always refuse. They are "obstinate."

It sounds like this: Barak "stays true to his red lines." Arafat "clings to his extreme positions." Barak "has succeeded in extracting from them far-reaching concessions" (settlement blocs, recognition of the legality of the settlements, abolition of the Green Line, recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel -- the very first -- and what not.) Arafat "was unwilling to give up anything." Barak "took the responsibility" and decided alone. Arafat does not take advice from his assistants and "decides everything by himself." And so forth, day after day.

When one comes to think of it, there is quite a lot of chutzpah in Barak's behavior. After all, he is still a rookie as a national leader and, until now, has not succeeded in anything, except the withdrawal from the "security zone" in Lebanon, which he himself had helped to set up -- while Arafat led his people from the brink of national extinction to the threshold of independence. He is now the most senior personality in the Arab world.

The ignorance: Everyone who knows anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows that it is quite impossible for Arafat to give up sovereignty over the holy shrines of Islam. But Barak's "experts" were certain that there would be no problem. One only has to find the right gimmick, some brilliant formulation, and everything will turn out O.K. (in our pockets). All the well-meaning wise guys, from Yossi Beilin to Shlomo Ben-Ami, contributed their part. Al-Quds instead of Jerusalem, Abu-Dis instead of the Temple Mount, embassy status for the Haram-al-Sharif, functional sovereignty, what not. And when Arafat did not swallow any of the baits and stuck to the simple formula of Arab sovereignty over East Jerusalem (considered occupied territory by the whole world) they got angry. What a fool! How primitive can you get! He lost everything because of this stupid obstinacy!
It seems that Barak has no advisor who understands the thinking and feelings of the Palestinians. His emissaries have met with Palestinian dignitaries in posh villas, but have never met with real people. Military intelligence evaluations that have been wrong at every turn in the history of the conflict, were wrong again.

Arab culture places much weight on personal contact, personal gestures, the generosity of the strong. But Barak, who has insisted on calling this summit, has resolutely refused to meet with Arafat. For 10 days, 24 hours a day, he stayed within a hundred yards from the Palestinian leader without visiting him or inviting him in, even for a cup of coffee. "His body language expressed loathing", the Israeli correspondents reported eagerly, "at the official dinner, when he was sitting next to Arafat, he devoted all his attention to young Chelsea." Perhaps he wants to make peace with her.

The lack of leadership: True, Barak has gone further than any of his predecessors. He has helped to demolish the stupid mantra of "Jerusalem eternal capital bla-bla-bla." But when he reached the brink of the abyss and had to jump over it, he didn't jump. This was the test. The de Gaulle test. The Ben-Gurion test. The Begin test at Camp David. Failing this test dwarfs everything else.

In history there is the one split of a second when a true leader shows his colors. At such a moment Martin Luther said: "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. So help me God." Without squinting sideways. Without looking back. Barak failed this decisive test. He was afraid to declare that there can be no peace without giving up sovereignty over the Temple Mount, and rely on the public to support him.

Another sin: Barak went to Camp David with a double strategic plan -- a maximal and a minimal.

The maximal plan was to achieve peace -- the Barak peace. He wanted to put Arafat in the grip of a nutcracker -- between Clinton and himself. The Americans took the Israeli proposal, changed a little here and there and put it forward as the American offer. It was far from the Palestinian minimum. Arafat, a tough nut, didn't crack.

Like the good general he is, Barak had prepared in advance an alternative plan for this eventuality: to put all the blame on Arafat. In this he has succeeded, with the assistance of a vast brainwashing campaign in which the Israeli media willingly volunteered. Instead of leading a campaign for peace, he mobilized it for justifying failure.

His main agent is Clinton. The President's interview on Israeli TV was disgraceful. Breaking his solemn promise not to blame either side in the event of of failure, he put the whole blame squarely on Arafat. He nearly declared war on the Palestinian people, vowing to prevent their declaration of independence, to choke them economically, and worse, if they dare to disobey. He promised to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem, to pay indemnities to the Jewish immigrants from Arab states (of course, at the expense of the Palestinian refugees) and to upgrade the Israeli army.

Suddenly, the mask of the impartial peacemaker fell. No more honest broker, trying to build a bridge between the two sides. Instead, there again was the old American politician, wooing the American-Jewish vote.

Clinton's motives are both obvious and cynical: He wants to help his wife to win the elections in New York. But the damage he has caused this week is irreversible: He has stuck a knife in the back of the Israeli and Palestinian peace camps. He has destroyed any chance of further useful American mediation. He has destroyed Barak's ability to move forward. If the US says that Israel has already done more than enough, why should the Israeli public agree to any more concession? He has created among the Palestinians a mood of "the whole world is against us", discouraging any inclination for moderation. So much for Clinton and the Nobel peace prize.

The big propaganda machine soothes us: Nothing bad has happened, this is just the beginning, negotiations go on, there will be another summit, Arafat will "mature" and accept Barak's terms. Arafat, too, has an interest in calming the situation for now, so as to prevent hostilities before the declaration of the state.

But this is the calm before the storm. Whatever has been spoiled will not be easily put right in further summits. Positions have sharpened, battle-lines drawn. Now it will be difficult to bring things back to where they were. Perhaps the "window of opportunity" has closed, a historic opportunity missed.

They say that Barak learns quickly. That he can draw conclusions, change directions. Let's hope. Let's hope that he will do so before the next war.

Waking up from madness

Haim Bar'am

In Camp David Ehud Barak missed a golden opportunity to achieve true peace. He did, however, break away both from the traditional Labour Party positions and, not to forget, from his own hawkish interpretation of these. Whatever happens hereafter, it will never be the same again. The earthquake which just shook the Israeli political system will leave its irreversible marks.

Despite the failure at the end of the talks, I feel that this week Ehud Barak has really given up considerable part of the basic ideological framework which had guided him for three decades. This tough hawk is now expressing willingness to "divide Jerusalem", using terms which even Meretz would have avoided just a few weeks ago.

As in the time of Oslo, 1993, I feel torn between suspicion of Barak (which rose immediately when I heard of the failure) and a need to defend this man against his so much worse enemies. For a consistent leftist, the choices are poor. We refuse to accept Barak's Red Lines as our spiritual guide -- and still, we prefer a less than perfect peace to the most righteous of wars. Without in the least accepting the annexationist demands which Barak made upon the Palestinians and which led to the failure of Camp David, we might soon find ourselves supporting the government against a right wing rampage in the streets.

I have written countless times that, without an equitable solution for Jerusalem, all efforts to make peace with the Palestinians would be in vain. I have often encountered very hostile reactions - precisely from Laborites.
"Arafat must give up his claim to rule part of Jerusalem, otherwise there will be no peace" they said with a naive faith in their ability to bend the Palestinians to their will.

Now, the public is going through the pangs of a sudden awakening from the "Greater Jerusalem" madness. The fact that Barak failed in Camp David because he did not go far enough on Jerusalem does not matter. What matters is that the "Red Lines" which existed until this week have been broken and wiped away, like the nonsense visions of false prophets. Even the Likud leaders, despite their present raving, will have to adjust to reality -- as they already did on other issues. In the long range, Israeli society will be much saner after discarding its megalomaniac dreams.

In the immediate wake of the Six Day War, the late Moshe Haim Shapiro, leader of the National Religious Party -- which was moderate at the time -- expressed his apprehension that 'It is not we getting hold of Jerusalem. It is Jerusalem getting hold of us.' He was absolutely right, and the worst hit was his own party which degenerated to extreme nationalism, verging on fascism. But it is the way of Shapiro, a moderate who in the 1950's opposed the military adventures of Prime Minister Ben Gurion, which is going to prevail -- not the dreams of the fanatics and demagogues who succeeded him.

For thirty-three years we have been under the sway of madness -- nationalist, territorialist, messianic, anti-humanist, anti-democratic madness. Waking up from this trauma was never going to be easy -- but it will come, and this country will be healed yet.

Adapted from Kol Hair, July 28.