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Archivierte Meldungen aus den Jahren 1995 - 1999

Translation of an article to be published
in Ma'ariv on December 27, 1999

Bribe Shass?

by Uri Avnery

Bribe Shass? Buy with money the 17 Knesset votes of a party that attracts voters with charms, dybbuk exorcisms, amulets, curses and benedictions? A party without inner democracy that owns a separate education system, where a new generation grows up to obscurantism and poverty?

My unqualified answer is: Yes, most certainly. Give them all the money they ask for, and more. No arbitrator is needed for that.

After the last elections, I raised my voice for the inclusion of Shass in the new government. In this I was more extreme than others. I totally rejected the attitude of the Meretz party, which was against this move, and had a heated argument with Meretz leader Ran Cohen on television. After the first session of the new Knesset, I whispered into the ears of Ehud Barak: "Take Shass!" (This whispering was, accidentally, shown live on TV.)

My reasoning was rough and simple: One has to chose between the important and the essential. It is important to safeguard decent public norms. It is essential to achieve peace.

A child in a sweets shop is unable to decide. He desires everything, the chocolate and the cookies, the cake and the ice-cream. The very inability to chose is a sign of childishness.

An adult person is supposed to know that one can't have everything at the same time, that one has to chose. Not only between good and bad (that's easy) but between good and better, between important and more important. Sometimes it seems that in this respect, the Meretz leadership is still in an adolescent phase.

When the Titanic started sinking, what was more important - to go on with the ball, to clean the cabins, to take pictures of the iceberg or to lower the lifeboats? In the present situation of Israel, what is more important - to create appropriate standards of public behavior, to check the curriculum of Shass schools or to make sure that a historical opportunity to make peace with Syria and Palestine will not be missed?

It is natural for those who oppose peace and support settlements to cry out against the bribing of Shass - in spite of the fact that only yesterday it was the right-wing government that bribed Shass to the hilt. But those who believe that the future of Israel depends on peace should ask themselves: Can it be done without Shass?

Within the government there is a majority without the Shass ministers for peace. Perhaps it will be possible to put together a majority without Shass in the Knesset, even if it will be a pitiful and lame one. But that won't be the end of it. A general referendum has been promised. Will it be possible to get a majority there without Shass?

If none of the obnoxious racist laws proposed by the settlers and their supporters* will be adopted, a majority of one vote in the referendum will suffice. But in order to give the government the moral power to dismantle dozens of settlements , we need a massive majority. Certainly, the supports of a great part of the Oriental-Jewish sector is necessary.

There exists a kind of mystic belief that in any referendum, the people will automatically vote for peace. I propose not to rely too much on mystic feelings. Already the opponents of peace mobilize the full force of their fanaticism and dominate most television, radio and internet broadcasts. A very determined effort is needed to counter the brainwashing that has been going on for so long against the return of the Syrian heights to their rightful owners.

When peace arrives, the time will come for a determined struggle for the separation of state and religion, for a modern education system and for the cleansing of the political scene. Peace will enable us to create a state we can be proud of. No such state is possible without peace. And no peace is possible without Shass.

Many years ago I had a private dinner with the Austrian chancellor, Bruno Kreisky. That was immediately after the election victory of Menachem Begin. Issam Sartawi, a senior PLO leader, was also present, as well as Kreisky's closest friend, the Jewish multi-millionaire Karl Kahane. I was asked to analyze the situation in Israel on the eve of the setting up of a new government. I explained that Begin will have no majority without the four deputies of the orthodox Agudat-Israel party.

At this point Kahane burst out: "My god, can't we buy four rabbis? How much can they cost? One million dollars each in a Swiss bank account? Isn't the future of Israel worth four million dollars?"

Well, Shass will cost more than four millions. A lot more. But it's only money.
The future of Israel is worth all the money in the world!

* Among others, a law requiring a majority of 60%, so as to neutralize the votes of Israel's Arab citizens.

Gush Shalom
[Visit the Settlement Special]

Die hier archivierten Artikel stammen aus den "Anfangsjahren" der breiten Nutzung des Internet. Damals waren die gestalterischen Möglichkeiten noch etwas ursprünglicher als heute. Wir haben die Artikel jedoch weiterhin archiviert, da die Informationen durchaus noch interessant sein können, u..a. auch zu Dokumentationszwecken.

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