Yacov Ben Efrat

The Leader Israel Deserves

The second Lebanon War of summer 2006 threw a dark shadow over the government of Ehud Olmert and his party, Kadima. For the first time, Israel got to know what it’s like to cower helplessly under barrages of rocket fire. The 4,000 Katyushas that rained on Galilee for 33 days rubbed in the feeling of failure. The air force could not stop them. The government could not protect or supply its citizens. It left them to fend as best they could, ruled by the wails of sirens. 

Lebanon II: The Wider Picture

The ramifications of Israel’s second Lebanon War should be gauged against the background of the dramatic events that the region has undergone in the last three years: the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Hamas electoral victory, and changes in Israel’s political economy. These events, in turn, should be viewed against the political vacuum created by the fall of the Soviet Union. The vacuum has been filled in two very different ways: 1) by the neo-liberal conceptions of the global capitalist regime, and 2) by Islamic fundamentalism. The Organization for Democratic Action (ODA-Da’am) opposed the war in Lebanon. 

Editorial: A misguided conception

The illusion of Oslo has been replaced by a new illusion of unilateral separation. If Oslo disregarded issues that are central to the Palestinian people, the unilateral agenda disregards the Palestinian people itself! It is as if we’d returned to the days of Golda Meir, who used to ask with wondering eyes, “Is there a Palestinian people?” The new Israeli consensus, applauded by so many, is founded on the notion, “What we do not see does not exist,” or on the campaign slogan of former PM Ehud Barak, “Them there, us here.” The trouble is, those whom we don’t see - those who live “there” - are a people besieged, without sources of livelihood, without control of territory, and under a crumbling local regime. 

Hurricane Gaza

As a unilateral act, Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip raises basic questions for both sides in the conflict. For Israel, there is the question of how to define its deed: “Should we declare that the occupation of Gaza is over?” No less important are the questions Palestinians are asking: “Is this a victory? If so, who should get credit?” When Sharon prefers to speak of an end to Israeli “responsibility” rather than “occupation”, he means, above all, economic responsibility. He will discover, however, that Gaza, for its part, cannot disengage. Gazans cannot survive without access to jobs and export markets in Israel. 

Disengaging Sharon

Most Israelis consider it pointless to keep settlements in Gaza, where 7,500 of their countrymen live beside 1.3 million mostly impoverished Palestinians. In recent opinion polls, 56% or more of Israeli Jews backed the disconnection plan of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, calling for the evacuation of all 21 Gazan settlements plus four in the West Bank. It foundered, however. Doubtful of support from the Likud members in his cabinet and the Knesset, Sharon had the idea of bypassing them by means of a referendum among his party’s 193,000 rank-and-file. Here too the opinion polls had at first seemed favorable.