-1- Uri Avnery column 'The Gladiators'
> -2- Weekly ad 'A Real Opposition'
> International release
> Hebrew at the website / עברית באתר
> Uri Avnery
> The Gladiators
> The contest between Binyamin Netanyahu and
> Ariel Sharon in the Likud Central Committee
> resembled a duel between two gladiators in the Roman
> arena. The more so since many of the Committee
> members behaved like the Roman rabble who screamed,
> rioted and demanded blood.
> In this fight, Netanyahu resembled the
> Retiarius, a gladiator who had nothing on but a
> short tunic and who sought to entangle his opponent
> with a cast-net held in his right hand and, if
> successful, to dispatch him with the trident that he
> carried in his left. Sharon was like the Secutor,
> who wore armor and carried a sword. The former had
> the advantage of mobility and agility, the other
> moved clumsily but was well protected.
> Many heaved a sigh of relief when Netanyahu
> was defeated at the last minute, contrary to
> expectations and polls. Since Netanyahu had
> positioned himself on the extreme right, supporting
> the settlers and opposing any withdrawal, he made
> Sharon look like the Man of Peace. But that is, of
> course, an illusion. The difference between the two,
> if there is one at all, is negligible. If Netanyahu
> were Prime Minister, he would behave exactly like
> Sharon, and in opposition Sharon would behave
> exactly like Netanyahu.
> Sharon is now making both peace-loving and
> war-like declarations - depending on the audience he
> is addressing. Before the UN General Assembly and
> the Americans he sings hymns to peace, but he vows
> to the Likud that he will not give up another inch.
> All these declarations are not worth a garlic
> peeling, to use a Hebrew expression. One should not
> believe a word he says, only his actions count. In
> the meantime he builds the Separation Fence,
> enlarges the settlements, initiates provocations,
> bombs and arrests.
> On the face of it, therefore, nothing that has
> happened in the Likud Central Committee has any
> impact on the chances of peace. Just a duel between
> two gladiators in the arena, much ado about nothing.
> But that is an optical illusion.
> In fact, peace has won a great victory in the
> Likud arena.
> This has nothing to do with the personality or
> intentions of Sharon, but everything with the
> substance of the decision.
> In theory, no ideological matter was at stake.
> The committee members were voting, officially, only
> on a technical point: whether to hold the primaries
> for Party Chairman early, next month, or at their
> scheduled time, in half a year. Big deal.
> But what was really at issue was whether to
> throw Sharon out, because he has uprooted the
> settlements and withdrawn from the Gaza Strip. The
> attacks on him were focused on this point. His
> opponents claimed that he had betrayed the Likud
> principles, that the Likud opposes the ceding of any
> part of the "fatherland" to the "Arab enemy", that
> the evacuation of any settlement is a crime. That's
> what the battle was all about.
> The decision was therefore of historic
> importance. The Likud is the present incarnation of
> the Revisionist Party, which was founded some 80
> years ago under the slogan "The Jordan has two banks
> - one belongs to us and the other one too." Its very
> name reflects this claim. The founder, Vladimir
> (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky wanted to annul the 1920 decision
> of the British government to separate Transjordan
> (the present Kingdom of Jordan) from Palestine. That
> was the "revision" he strove to attain.
> Even when the party, in its successive
> incarnations, in practice gave up the claim on
> Transjordan, it insisted vigorously on "The Whole of
> Eretz-Israel" between the Mediterranean and the
> Jordan River. In order to achieve this, it promoted
> the settlements in all the occupied territories,
> denied the very existence of the Palestinian people
> and obstructed every step that could have led
> towards peace.
> And now, on Monday, September 26, 2005, the
> Central Committee of this party has voted for a
> leader who evacuated and destroyed 25 settlements,
> has used the Israel Defense Forces to "drive out
> Jews" and has officially given up a part of Eretz
> Israel. From this day on, the Likud is not what it
> used to be.
> Some people make light of this victory because
> of the tiny margin - 52% against 48%. But that is
> not important. The astounding thing is that any
> committee members at all voted for the man who did
> It is being said that this decision was not
> ideological, but jobological. The committee members
> voted against their convictions in order keep the
> Likud in power and save their government jobs. The
> polls have shown that the Likud would lose the
> elections if Sharon were thrown out. The head
> overcame the heart, the greed for power was stronger
> than the ideology.
> If that is true, the victory is even more
> important. The 3060 members of the Likud Central
> Committee come from all parts of Israel. They come
> from all social strata, not just from the "elites".
> They sense the mood of the general public. If they
> have arrived at the conclusion that loyalty to the
> settlements and Greater Israel will lose them the
> elections, this has far-reaching significance.
> I wrote recently that "the center has held".
> Now it is also clear that the right wing has
> remained loyal to Sharon. His opponents, the
> Loyalists of Greater Israel, are in a state of
> collapse. After their rout in the Central Committee,
> they are foundering among the 100,000 party members.
> Polls show that a large majority of these now
> support Sharon. The Likud ministers and Knesset
> members behave like soldiers of a defeated army
> after the cry "sauve qui peut" is sounded.
> That is not the end of it. On the contrary, we
> are facing a hard year. Sharon will try to freeze
> everything, except the building of the Fence and the
> enlarging of the settlements. The pretext will be
> the need to wait for the results of the Palestinian
> elections, in January 2006, in order to know "with
> whom we are dealing". After that, the Israeli
> election will take place, probably in November 2006,
> and "nobody can expect Sharon to take unpopular
> steps before elections". President Bush, who is also
> a political animal, will surely understand that. The
> prolonged freeze may cause new disasters.
> In spite of this, the long march towards peace
> has taken another step. A small step, but an
> important one.
> And that in the Likud Central Committee, of
> all places. Who would have believed it.
> Gush Shalom ad published in Ha'aretz,
> September 30, 2005:
> A REAL OPPOSITION
> Few of us will mourn the defeat of Binyamin
> But Ariel Sharon is not a man of peace,
> either. With the enthusiastic support of the Labor
> Party ministers, he exploits every opportunity to
> escalate the attack on the Palestinians.
> He does not want a cease-fire, and even less
> negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, in
> order to reach an agreed solution. His utterances
> about "security" are but a cover for his plan to
> annex large parts of the West Bank and to "fix the
> border unilaterally". Every attack on Israeli
> citizens helps him in promoting these aims.
> The time has come for those who want peace and
> an end to the occupation to organize an independent
> and vigorous opposition, both in the street and in
> the Knesset.