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Aktiv gegen Nazi-Propaganda!
Jüdische Weisheit
Archivierte Meldungen aus den Jahren 1995 - 1999

Translation of the unabridged version of an article
published in Ma'ariv, October 18, 1999

Uri Avnery:

It all reminds one of the athlete in ancient Greece, who recounted that in far-away Rhodes he had jumped to a height unparalleled even by the greatest Olympic champions. Many people witnessed the event, he asserted, and if one of them would pass by chance he would certainly confirm it.

His countrymen, however, new him as an inveterate bragger and were not impressed. There was no need for witnesses, they told him, just repeat this feat now. "Here is Rhodes, here jump!" they said (and in the Latin version of the old Greek saying, "Hic Rhodus, hic salta!")

Ehud Barak starts to resemble this athlete. I am a hero, he tells us, I can dismantle the settlements in a jiffy. When the "permanent status" agreement will be achieved, I shall dismantle many dozens of settlements, leaving only some "settlement blocs". In return for peace with Assad I shall give up all the settlements on the Golan. That's what I am like. A hero.

But unlike Aesop's athlete some 2600 years ago, Barak uses the distance of time instead of the distance of place. I don't want to jump now, he says. I shall jump only at a certain point in time in the future. Then you will be amazed by my jumping. It will pit all Olympic feats to shame.

Very well, but we want to be amazed right now. No need for an Olympic, Rhodes-style jump. Just a little one is enough, just a weeny, tiny one. Not the dismantling of dozens of settlements. Just two. Maybe less. Show us how you dismantle one sole settlement. Hic Rhodus.

A few days ago Barak made all the preparations for the fateful jump. He flexed his muscles in view of the whole world. He described the wonderful jump we were going to witness any minute now. He would dismantle, oh yes, really dismantle. Well, not the settlements themselves. But the hilltop outposts that were set up after the Wye agreement. Well, not all 42 of them, but 15. And if not 15, then seven for sure. Hic Rhodus.

The great moment arrived - and what happened? Alas, no Rhodus, no salta. Just a "dialogue" with the settlers. Dialogue by day, dialogue by night. End result: nothing. A few mobile houses will be moved from hill A to hill B. Some empty containers will be sent back to where they came from.

No shouts of admiration from enthusiastic spectators. Just the hissing of air leaving an inflated balloon.

But what happened this week - or, rather, what did not happen - resounds throughout the region. The world saw, so did Assad, so did Arafat, so did we all. The obvious lesson is: If Barak is afraid to move some mobile homes that were put up as a provocation only a few weeks ago, where will he find the courage to remove dozens of honest-to-goodness settlements, not to mention the whole lot of them? If he cannot jump now to the height of twenty centimeters, how will he reach Olympic heights? Now that he has shown amazing weakness, all the saboteurs of peace will rise again, like a dog smelling the cowardice of his opponent.

Many Palestinians are asking themselves now: What is the sense of entering "permanent status" negotiations, if Barak does not really mean to dismantle settlements? And if he will undertake to do it, how can we believe that will he implement the undertaking? If he is afraid now of the hooligans who call themselves "the young settlers", will he not be frightened tomorrow when he has to confront the whole settlement movement? If he is afraid now of political scarecrows like Sharansky and the Mafdal party hacks, who were soundly beaten at the last elections, will he not be afraid of the massed right-wing?

Assad, too, probably tells himself: Just a minute, what's going on? If Barak cannot remove some outposts, what is the sense in talking with him about the evacuation of all the Golan? What's the sense of starting negotiations at all, if the only result will be my humiliation?

Many people were ready to forgive Barak many things - the ongoing bribing of the religious parties, the lack of any economic plan, the cold indifference to social problems. All for the promise of the great jump at Rhodes. Peace above everything else. But there can be no peace without the massive removal of the settlements. If he is unable to produce that, what remains?

Perhaps Barak has lost his meeting with history this week. Perhaps we should remember not only the ancient Greek parable, but also the Aramaic graffiti of the same time: "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin".

Translation of the unabridged version of the article
published in Ma'ariv, October 18, 1999.

haGalil 10-99

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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