I am in turmoil, more so than for a long, long time.
All my life I have opposed the blank ballot. I have
written articles against it, much more convincing than the current
propaganda clichés of Yossi Sarid. But I am afraid that this time I shall
have to use it. If I try to take the Ehud Barak slip, my hand will
tremble and refuse.
I know all the arguments. A blank ballot is a ballot for
Sharon. Of course. But those who voice this argument must prove that Barak
is better than Sharon.
As of this moment, it is nearly certain that a
"national unity" government will be set up after the elections.
Either Sharon will be Prime Minister with Barak as his Minister of
Defense, or Barak will be Prime Minister with Sharon as his minister of
Defense. Big deal. Does this justify casting a vote? Isn't this whole
campaign a puppet show for the feeble-minded?
Twenty months ago, when the television anchorman announced
Barak's victory, I rushed to Rabin square and danced for joy. The end of
the Likud era! The beginning of the era of peace! But in the short period
since then Barak has destroyed all that could be destroyed: the peace
momentum, Rabin's achievements, the national morale, the trust and
goodwill of the Palestinians.
How has he done this? He has not given back to the
Palestinians one single square inch, flagrantly violating the Oslo
agreement (the third withdrawal). He has enlarged the settlements at a
feverish pace, built countless "by-pass roads" for annexation
and tried to dictate to the Palestinians terms of capitulation. He has
destroyed the trust created with great difficulty between Rabin and
Arafat, describing the leader of the Palestinian people as a terrible
person, in whose company he suffers perpetually (as he said this week on
television in an election broadcast). And in the end he sent Sharon
- yes, the terrible Sharon of his election propaganda - to the Haram al-Sharif,
accompanied by 2000 policemen, thus igniting with his own hands the
violent intifada. Now he has started the "eliminations campaign"
and the choking of Palestinian towns and villages, which borders on a war
The sins can be counted one by one, but the worst of all
is unforgivable: he has made the Israeli public hate peace. He created a
mendacious impression that he had "turned every stone on the way to
peace", made unheard-of concessions, broken all the taboos - and in
return the Palestinians opened fire and spilt blood. This means that there
is no "partner", that peace is an illusion, that Oslo was a
terrible mistake. If so, why the hell not vote for Sharon?
The truth is, of course, quite different. For one and a
half years Barak has driven the national train on the tracks laid down by
Sharon. It was Sharon who created the settlement map, in order to cut
the Palestinian territories into pieces and foreclose any
possibility of peace. Barak took over Sharon's map under the code-words
"settlement blocs" and tried to impose it on the Palestinians.
The decoration is different (peace slogans, endless negotiations) but the
policy is the same. The "red lines" are different, but as there
is not a single Palestinian who would accept Barak's lines, the end result
is the same.
It is unjust to blame the Israeli people. There was very
little opposition when Barak announced his virtual concessions. The public
was ready go a long way with him. But he stopped. Even on the eve of the
elections, public opinion polls show that half the voters are ready to
elect Shimon Peres, who is now identified in the public mind with peace
and the "new Middle East".
It is being said: That's all true, but Sharon is worse. He
will bring terrible partners with him. I do not ignore that. But Barak has
brought the same partners. And I am fed up with choosing between Cholera
and the Plague (as the Jewish saying goes). There is at least one good
thing about a Sharon government: All the world knows who Sharon is, we
know who Sharon is. The international community, which has pampered
Barak because it believed his talk about peace, will stand on its hind
legs to oppose Sharon. The Israeli Left, which has invented endless
justifications for Barak, will come out and demonstrate en masse when
Sharon does the same.
Some say that blank ballots do not help. They will not
even be counted. That's nonsense. When the final count discloses hundreds
of thousands of "invalid" ballots, added to wide-spread
abstention, the political clout of the peace camp will become evident and
future Prime Ministers will know the risk of ignoring it. This is neither
revenge nor punishment, but a logical political act in the present
I don't want this to happen. Even at this late hour I
practically beg Barak: Promise us that you will on no condition join a
"unity" government with Sharon, cancel the "red
lines", present a reasonable peace plan. If you are unable to do
this, turn the candidacy over to someone else.
If you don't take either of these options, there will be a
terrible crash. We shall enter a difficult time, perhaps the most
difficult we have known.
We shall have to build a new, more solid peace camp
instead of the one that has broken apart as a result of the destructive
Barak episode. We will need to get rid of the whole bunch of cowardly
political failures, as we got rid of Golda and her bunch, and find a new,
On the morrow of the elections, we must start again from