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Children of light, children of darkness

By Uri Avnery

There are plants that flower only in the dark.  There are birds that hide in the day and come out only by night. And then there is Bibi.

A man such as Bibi can flourish only in an atmosphere of fear.  Fear that gives birth to hate and agression.  Fear that turns adults into children who need a strong leader.  Such fear elevates politicians of Bibi's kind, who are found everywhere in the world.  In lucky countries such as France, a man such as Le Pen is relegated to a marginal position. In unfortunate countries such as Serbia, a man such as Milosevic is  the leader.

The biggest foe of people such as Bibi is the sun.  When it sends out its rays of light into the dark recesses, all the dark fears disappear, the imagined demons dissipate, and the fearsome enemy reveals itself as nothing but a scarecrow waving in the wind. The night is the kingdom of the Bibis.

Last week Bibi gave a speech at Bar-Ilan University in which he revealed to his astounded audience that a horrible menace threatens us from the East.  And just where is this terrifying monster lurking?  Woe is me!  The great enemy is none other than Jordan.

Yes, the Jordan of King Hussein, of blessed memory.  The same one that Israeli leaders, with Bibi in the lead, had spilled rivers of tears over his freshly-dug grave.  The good king, champion of peace, lover of Israel. But isn't it the same king, Bibi pointed out in his speech, who joined the terrible Saddam in 1991, when he rained his missiles on Israel?  And if that is the case with the good father, what can we expect from his son Abdullah?  What despicable tricks can be expected from him?

Netanyahu and his right-hand-man-for-the-day Ariel Sharon were planning their visit to Jordan to strengthen our ties with the new king who has already proclaimed his love for Israel.  But far be it for a man of Netanyahu's ilk to shrink from the truth merely for the sake of good manners.  He will make sure to speak it loud and clear.

And here is the bitter truth: In a time of trouble, Jordan is capable of joining Iraq once again.  The Iraqi army will descend on the Jordan river. By then, if a Palestinian state is already in place, the Iraqi army would truly be standing "at the outskirts of Tel-Aviv."  Oh yes, one sunny morning, the residents of Ramat-Gan and Giv'ataim would wake up, look out their windows and what would their eyes behold?  The Iraqi army marching in the street, on their way to the beach.  And all because of the Left.

One could, of course, ask a few questions.  For instance:  Just how would the Iraqi army cross the border into Jordan without being detected by American satellites and by Israeli Intelligence?  How would it cover the distance from the suburbs of Baghdad to the suburbs of Amman, and from there on to the suburbs of Tel-Aviv without being decimated by Israel's airforce?  And, even more to the point, why would tiny Jordan risk a war in which it may very well lose its very existence?  And why would Saddam need to resort to such a marching display through the Jordanian desert and Palestinian hills, when he could bomb Allenby Street in Tel-Aviv in a matter of seconds with gas and biological warheads?

But there is no point in logical questions, since it is not logic that Netanyahu is soliciting.  A man of his ilk can win an election only if he rides the black horse of fear.  After fifty years of independence, he needs to take us back to the Warsaw Ghetto, surrounded by Himmler's Waffen-SS.  Only then would he succeed in imbuing us with the necessary burning hate for those murderous Arabs, who are plotting to push us into the sea.  And to those despicable Palestinians, who are insisting on establishing their own state, only so that Saddam could close in on "the suburbs of Tel-Aviv."  And to the traitorous Left which is aiding them and to the hostile press supporting the Left.

And who can save us from this second holocaust, one even worse than the first?  Only one man, no other, a "strong leader for a strong people", Bibi the Great!

It is hard to believe that today, 50 years after the establishment of our state, ten months before the dawn of the third millenium, someone has the nerve to paint such a picture.  The world is uniting, Europe is becoming a political and economical unit, borders between countries are being erased, technology is creating a global economy, and only in regressive corners such as Kosovo and Afganistan do there remain islands of an anachronistic war.  Netanyahu speaks to us in the language of the distant past. The language of fear, of hate, of war.  He taps those instincts in the deepest recesses of a nation's subconscious, which carry the memory of pogroms from the Middle Ages and the holocaust of two generations ago.

Uri AvneryOnly the light of day can chase out the dark and the demons flourishing under its cover.  It is the responsibility of the Left.  It must lift its head high and bring out the opposite message.  Five years ago there was Oslo, which caused the barriers between us and the entire Arab world to crumble.  In our own region, the borders began to blur too, peace agreements were being signed, joint Israeli-Arab projects, the likes of which a mere few years ago, practically no one had dared to dream of, were born.  Investments began to pour into our country, and Israel began to integrate itself into the technological global economy.  Were it not for the tragedy that befell us in 1996 with the victory of a demagogue like Bibi, we would be able to enter the 21st century as a state at peace, led by scientists and economists in place of the Generals, a state putting its huge energy resources into technological and societal progress.

This must be our choice: The past versus the future, fear versus self-confidence. A new Warsaw Ghetto versus a state integrated in the region and the world, Iraqi soldiers "on the outskirts of Tel-Aviv" versus Israeli engineers in Kuwait and Casablanca, the 19th century versus the 21st. In short: Darkness versus light.

Uri Avnery, Maariv, 03.99

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