look at who's doing the criticizing here. This is the man who, standing
on a balcony overlooking a demonstration in Jerusalem's Zion Square that
was boycotted by Ehud Olmert, Benny Begin and Dan Meridor, did not so
much as raise an eyebrow at the sight of placards proclaiming, "Yitzhak
Rabin is a traitor."
This is the man who only belatedly condemned
the "traitor" sign in a personal statement made for the records of a
Knesset session. This is the same Netanyahu who didn't "pound the table"
during the demonstration in which a coffin designated for the
still-living Rabin was borne aloft.
Barak's biography, "Number One Soldier,"
written by Ben Caspit and Ilan Kfir, mentions that Barak's friends
Menachem Digli and Sami Nahmias suggested to him that he purchase land
in East Jerusalem. Barak's response was that he "was ready to purchase
land in the eastern part of the city only if it were abandoned land, and
not the private property of Arab residents."
When the biography was translated into
Russian, this passage was altered - either with deliberate malice or by
simple error - to convey that Barak had rejected his friends' suggestion
outright, and had said, "This land is not ours...[It] belongs to the
On television, Netanyahu trumpeted this
sentence as proof that Barak does not support a Jewish Jerusalem. But
Netanyahu has been caught in a lie. Had Barak wanted to doctor the
translation, he would have had this passage deleted from the Russian
version since it doesn't serve his interests to be depicted as a
moderate in the eyes of Russian Israelis who tend to be nationalists.
Netanyahu should have realized on his own
that such a quote from Barak was inconceivable. But just to remove all
doubt, five hours before the television interview, Avraham Burg publicly
announced that the Russian edition was fraudulent. When Netanyahu
triumphantly disseminated on TV the false passage from the Russian
version, he was already well aware of its inaccuracy. It's chilling to
The Center Party did not need Netanyahu's two
latest ploys to prove that the prime minister is not worthy of being in
office. The party was established for the express purpose of putting
Netanyahu back in the opposition. Three of its leaders -
Dan Meridor and
Dalia Rabin-Pelosof -
vowed not to be a part of any government headed by Netanyahu.
Now they find themselves smack dab in the
middle of a political crossroads, facing a momentously historic
responsibility. The polls show that support for Center Party prime
ministerial candidate Yitzhak Mordechai has shrunk to just seven
percent. Yet Mordechai has committed himself to staying in the race for
prime minister until the bitter end, thus playing right into Netanyahu's
hands by forcing a second round on Ehud Barak.
But Amnon, Dan and Dahlia must understand
that if they don't save Mordechai from his noble determination to keep
his word and stay in the race, they will bear the onus for a fateful
error - allowing Netanyahu to gain time until the second round.
The trio also knows that Mordechai's
candidacy is hurting the Center Party's chances of winning mandates in
the Knesset. Some voters who are angry with Mordechai for stealing votes
from Barak in the first round would be ready to dedicate their vote to
the Center Party Knesset list if only Mordechai would get out of the
race for prime minister. These voters are interested in seeing a
coalition with a strong Center Party faction to balance out Barak and
the elected representatives of One Israel.
Mordechai, a man with an illustrious
biography, is treating his word of honor with admirable seriousness. He
promised to stay in the race until the bitter end and he will probably
do so. But Lipkin-Shahak, Meridor and Pelossof have other public
considerations to take into account. They remember that when Mordechai
left the Likud and joined the Center Party, he sent Netanyahu a letter
with a quote by the prophet Samuel to King Saul, "God has torn the
kingdom of Israel from you this day and given it to your friend who is
better than you."
Now it's the Center Party's turn to quote
Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) to Mordechai: "Who is strong? He who
conquers his impulse.