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Not only in war you failed - also in peace-making
by Meir Shalev
Yediot Aharonot, May 4, 2007
Translation: Adam Keller
[It was by no stretch of the imagination a peace demonstration. The only common denominator was wanting to get rid of Olmert (and of Peretz, though that was rather a sideshow). Settlers with their nationalist t-shirts and orange ribbons were evident in the crowd, and some of the speakers from the podium wanted Olmert gone mainly `in order to let the next war end with a real knockout for the enemy`. Yossi Beilin`s having endorsed the rally jointly with the arch-racist Effie Eitam was not entirely welcome even to members of Beilin`s own Meretz Party, and quite a few activists felt no inclination to take any part in this affair.
Still, in his keynote speech writer Meir Shalev did succeed in momentarily dividing this false `national unity` rally into roughly equal amounts of clapping and booing. He said things which rarely get said to such a large audience - the crowd on the Rabin Square, as well as all those who followed the live radio and TV broadcasts, and on the following the day the readers Israel`s biggest paper. ed.]
Mr. Prime Minister, you said that you are working for us? Well, you are fired.
Mr. Defence Minister, you said that Nasrallah will never forget your name? neither shall we.
We were not surprised. We were just confirmed in what we felt since the day the two of of you took power, both of you taking up the wrong roles. The Winograd Report just confirmed what we knew without doubt since the day you took us to the Second Lebanon War: that the jobs you took up were far too much for you.
You failed, and you must go home. We don`t ask for compensations, nor do we demand a public mea culpa. Not for your lack of rational consideration before rushing into war, nor for your arrogance. Just go. Headless tyros, you have jumped into battle without a plan or aim. You have entered history as leaders who were caught with their trousers down in a war of their own making.
And you did not even learn a lesson. Even today, even after the Winograd Report, you are spending far more time, far more thought and energy to defending your political position than you ever gave the war which you initiated.
Here, in this square, many of the crowd are university students and their parents, demanding - and rightly - a reduction of the tuition fees. But we are also paying the tuition fees of you two, and they are exorbitant. They are paid not only in money, but also in suffering and the loss of hope.
You have failed. You have failed, and we will pay no more of your tuition fees. You have failed - and unlike in the University, you will not get a chance at a repeat examination.
Go home. Begone - for your arrogance, your rashness, your terrible wastefulness.
You have wasted the good will of the citizens of Israel, their willingness to volunteer, their sacrifice, their strength, their faith, their endurance.
You have wasted Israel`s deterrence.
You have wasted the prisoners` chances to return home.
Worst of all, you have wasted the lives of soldiers and civilians, and the health of those who got wounded.
You have taken up, wholly and without any criticism, the faulty strategy offered by the Army Chief of Staff. You did not make any effort to look for yourselves at the available forces and see if they could truly implement the missions assigned, you did not look for any alternatives. You did not understand the reality in which we live.
The poor people on the Home Front needed to endure, together with the Katyusha rockets, also your economic policy of privatization and trodding upon the weakest in society. No wonder that the war looked as it looked. Every war is terrible - your addition helped make it even more terrible.
When the leadership is corrupt and ministers spend their time under police investigation, no wonder that the war looked as it looked. Thank you!
When the army is busy manning checkpoints, and conducting detentions, and guarding illegal settlement outposts, no wonder that the war looked as it looked.
You have succeeded to give even politics a bad name. And that is why there is a message and a demand emanating today out of the Rabin Square. A demand for responsibility and for a vision. Yes, a vision - however outdated and unfashionable this word sounds. We will not settle for promises of correction and reconstruction, certainly not when you are the ones making such promises. We demand a vision of talks and reconciliation, which are absolutely unable to deliver. For you are not only unable to conduct war - also making peace is far beyond your power.
Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. Defence Minster - this war which you brought upon us is far from the first indication of our situation after forty years of occupation and settlement, but it helps us understand the situation better. Forty years of occupation are forty years of no education, no health, no personal security, no welfare, and also no proper military training - and the result is all too visible. But the urgent need for a vision to guide us to a better future is something which your successors will have to address, not you. From you we expect and demand just this: go home. Goodbye.
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