Here is a look at the events in the Middle East from a soft left Israeli perspective > An Israeli Columnist Discusses the Fighting > > The fighting that erupted between Israelis and Palestinians sharply affected > the public debate in Israel on issues of peace and attitudes toward the PLO > and Yasser Arafat. The following article, "Yasser, Do Not Be Mistaken," by > columnist Sever Plotzker, today in Yediot Ahranot, October 8, 2000, reflects > the change in public mood, especially among left-leaning commentators, > regarding the peace process. > > "Yasser, do not make the same mistake as Nasser." > > "Let me tell you something. Yesterday, my cellular phone range. On the > line was a friend, a bright computer engineer. He is living now in Silicon > Valley, enjoying America. He owns a high-tech company that is worth > hundreds millions dollars. 'I know you have good connections in the airline > companies,' he said. 'Could you maybe arrange for me a seat on the first > flight back home? I cannot stay in California when my home is on fire, when > the Arabs again question our right to exist. I must come back.'" > > "Our right to exist is the basis for our being Israelis. Our right to exist > as the sovereign state of the Jewish people in the Middle East. It is a > human, historic, and holy right. We thought, we believed, we wanted to > believe, that among the Palestinians and in the Arab community in Israel no > one questions this right. All the rest, we said, is open for negotiations. > But not our home; just not our home. It is possible we were mistaken." > > "Some people's world of ideas collapsed this week. Many divorced the dovish > Left yesterday. How could there be, they said, an Arab-Jewish coexistence > when the Arab side does not recognize the existence of the Jewish side? > Others claim to have predicted the future: we always told you that the Arabs > want to throw us into the sea, they argue, and here is the proof. Between > these two extremes is the majority of our people. A people with a heavy > weight lying on its heart. A people that feels a disaster is about to > occur. A disappointed, humiliated and embarrassed people. What happened > here? Only a short two weeks ago we bought furniture in Ramallah, we > gambled in the casino in Jericho, we imported vegetables from the villages > in Samaria and we read about the plan to build six tax-free shopping malls > for Israelis on the border of the autonomous area. How does all of this > square with the horrible outburst of hatred that flooded the territories and > the Arab community of Israel? Where were we mistaken? Where was the unseen > future hiding, and what is the truththe fire in Joseph^s tomb or the casino > in Jericho? War or peace?" > > "At moments of confusion and crisis, we look to our leaders. We want clear > answers, not additional deadlines and agendas. We want a compass, not a > weather vane. Barak does not stutter, but he also does not guide. He > stands in front of Arafat like a teacher in a classroom facing a problematic > student. He gives him another chance, and yet another. This time, he gives > him the absolute last chance to ask for forgiveness and to behave well, but > the student spits in his face. He spits in our face." > > "The events of the last week returned us to the atmosphere of the days of > restraint on the eve of the Six Day War. They returned us to old, forgotten > expressions: 'A people have arisen to destroy us;' 'few against many;' 'the > whole world is against us; 'we have nobody to talk to;' 'a war of no > choice.' The existential fear returned to live among us. It is an ancient > Jewish fear. But do not be mistaken, Yassir. This fear does not paralyze > us. It mobilizes and unifies us." > > "Israel is a democracy, and democracies move slowly. They don^t rush to > enter war until they have turned over every stone in a peace process. They, > the democracies, prefer a fair compromise to spilling blood. They must > secure from the public the support that is not automatically given to every > elected government. Therefore, at first glance, democracies seem weak, but > it is an illusion. When a democracy eventually goes to war, it does so on > the basis of the conviction of all of its citizens, which is why it wins. > History is filled with the skeletons of defeated non-democracies. Do not be > mistaken, Yassir; do not be mistaken Nasrallah, there has never been a > terror organization which has vanquished a democracy. You will not defeat > us, not on our doorstep." > > The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, > non-profit organization providing translations of the media of the Middle East > and original analysis and research on developments in the region. > Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, > are available upon request.
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