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Sick and tired of the stammerers

Uri Avnery
written November 23, not published

"Enough!" was the voters' verdict in the local elections.  The results
show that there has been a profound change in the public spirit.  It has
tired of all those stammering parties that are for and against anything
and everything, that change their positions every morning according to the
latest polls.  It is sick and tired of the politicians who are ready to
make loud proclamations about anything and to perform any trick just to
gain a small headline or a couple of minutes on a talk show.

This entire structure is about to collapse.  The public yearns for parties
which stick to their objectives and for individuals who are true to an
idea.  It does not want professional politicians with inflated egos and
minuscule intellects.  It wants trustworthy individuals.  Netanyahu and
his cohorts are not necessarily the only ones responsible for the public's
reaction.  But they have certainly exacerbated it greatly.  This is the
first conclusion.

The second conclusion is that the struggle between the religious and
secular sectors for the soul of the country has now taken center stage
in our lives.  The chasm between the two is steadily widening and
deepening, despite the blather about "bringing hearts together" and
"mutual understanding."

In spite of their internal squabbles, the haredi-religious-messianic
camp is closing ranks, becoming a united crushing force, threatening
the democratic, liberal and secular state established by us.  Shaping
up against it (finally) is a ready-to-fight secular camp, reacting to
the aggressive gall of the religious camp. Safi Rakhlevsky's
eye-opening book "The Messiah's Donkey" has come in the nick of time.

All of this is particularly evident in Jerusalem.  The religious block has
gained 15 out of 31 mandates on the Council.  Even though Ehud Olmert, a
politician with no scruples or inhibitions, has been elected Mayor (for
the last time), he has lost all of his power on the Council.  So, too, is
the case with the Labor Party.  In contrast, the small faction of Ornan
Yekutieli, a fighting secularist, along with Meretz, have gained 7
mandates -- more than Likud and Labor combined.

In Tel Aviv, three small, strictly secularist factions have gained nine
mandates, in contrast to the losses of the two "big" parties.

In the next elections to the Knesset, there is a tremendous chance for a
new, secular, fighting party which will wage a no-holds-barred struggle to
wipe out "the black revolution" of the messianic-haredi-nationalist
extremists.  No more Roni Milos, no more Lipkin-Schachaks, no more
politicians trying to hitch a quick ride on a popular theme, but rather a
party of energetic young people who will propose an unequivocal platform,
at its core the absolute separation of religion and state, in the spirit
of the American constitution.

This would mean: Establishing a uniform educational system for all of
Israel's children, one which would impart elementary values to all,
where the particular message of each sector (humanist,
religious, Arab, etc.) would be merely an addition. The
abolition of the exemption of Yeshiva scholars from military
duty.  The abolition of state-funding for yeshiva students and for
the myriad parasitic institutions which have been milking us. 
Operating public transportation seven days a week.  Operating
state-run airlines without interruption. Civil marriage and divorce. 
The dismantling of the "religious councils" financed
by the local authorities and the establishment, instead, of
volunteer institutions which would provide religious services on a
pay-per-service basis.  The abolition of religious restrictions on
food, autopsies, etc.

Uri AvneryThe struggle for peace is part of the struggle for the soul of the nation.
The messianic-religious camp, which is the body controlling the aggressive
settler movement, is now leading the struggle against peace.  It is this
movement which supplies the extreme Right with its ideology and political
force.  Here, too, we need a fighting secular party to state things
emphatically, without stuttering and side glances.  Most of the public
already understands that there will be a Palestinian state, side by side
with the State of Israel.  It needs to be stated clearly:  The settlements
are a danger to the survival of the State, and they must be dismantled.
The end of the war dictates the return of all territory occupied in 1967.
Jerusalem, the symbol of peace and reconciliation, must serve as the
capital of both states.

Half-truths, evasions, or clever tricks will no longer work.  No more
declarations of Ehud Barak that are neither fish nor fowl.  No more
statements by Yossi Sarid that "blocs of settlements" must stay under
Israeli control, that the Palestinian state has to be established on "more
than 90% of the West Bank," or that he "will not voluntarily
declare the intention of dividing Jerusalem".  The public
wants courage.  The public wants truth.

Were I younger by a few years, I would found such a party myself. 
But it is a task for the young generation.  Our role is to provide
support. The young people should be the ones to unfurl its banner,
and it is from their ranks that an aggressive faction in the
next Knesset could carry on the fight.

haGalil onLine - Montag 21-12-98

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