To the Editor:
I write to commend Mandu Sen for an insightful column Friday (“In Israel, one name to remember,” 11/22) and for taking the Middle East debate on campus in a different direction. Sen makes some great points about newly crowned Labor leader Amram Mitzna and the mood of Israeli society.
When I lived in Israel from 1991-1992 Ariel Sharon was a despised, right-wing housing minister who couldn’t stop building settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. His career seemed destined to fizzle, as Yitzhak Rabin, of Labor, retook the reigns from Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir.
The rest is history. Rabin and Shimon Peres endorsed thugs and murderers to lead the Palestinian people in the Oslo Accords, and relations between the two peoples have gone downhill since. With increased Palestinian violence in the mid-1990s Israelis elected the brilliant spokesperson but politically inept Benjamin Netanyahu for security. When that didn’t work they went to Ehud Barak for peace. Barak offered the most generous deal ever proposed to Yasser Arafat, and Arafat responded with the violence that continues until today.
Current polls in Israel show that about 70 percent of people would give up the West Bank and Gaza Strip if they knew it would bring peace. Unfortunately, the same percentage do not believe signing a deal with the Palestinians would do so. As a result, they elect Ariel Sharon for security, and polls show that Mitzna’s dovishÊlabor party will go from 25 out of 120 seats in the Knesset, to 19.
There is a truly sad saying in Israel that explains perfectly the difficulty of choosing between good intentions and reality: “Labor makes war and Likud makes peace.”
Sharon, that despised housing minister from ten years ago, has a 17 point lead in the polls over Netanyahu in the Likud primary. Labor does not even have a chance.
Aaron Faust ’02
November 22, 2002