Everyone, from politicians to pundits to military analysts,
says that the current violence will last for a while. No one
has suggested any way for us to do anything to end it, aside
from expressing our willingness to talk and to make peace, and
there is no doubt that we should be ready and willing to do so.
However as far as the violence, it will stop when the
Palestinians are ready to stop it and no one expects that to
happen for several months at least. That is all there is to it.
No one seems to have any good idea of how we can effectively
encourage the Palestinians to stop.
So this level of violence is now a fact of life, at least for a
while. If so, then so be it. It is not an emergency but rather
the life we can expect for the near future. We can declare the
emergency over and get on with other things.
Sometimes, a person gets sick. He is rushed to the hospital and
receives emergency treatment. But then, a diagnosis is made,
and he has a chronic condition. The same symptoms now elicit a
routine reaction, and life goes on.
We must then continue to lead our lives as we wish to. This
means that the violence should not be used as an excuse not to
do things that we would otherwise do.
We should be able to maintain our democratic institutions even
in these trying circumstances. If it is time for new elections -
- and having a government that includes only about a quarter of
the elected Knesset with no prospect for expansion is clearly
such a time -- then we should go ahead and hold them.
Mr. Barak seems to share the view that there is no emergency,
even if he does not draw the conclusion that there should be
new elections. When one forms an emergency government or one of
"national unity" the assumption is that the immediate concerns
are so important that they overwhelm the differences of
opinion. The parties join forces in order to take action to
deal with the extraordinary situation. Even if there are deep
disagreements on other things, the means to deal with the
special circumstances are generally part of a consensus, and
they can leave their differences for another day. For example,
when there is a real all-out war to fight, there is usually
broad agreement to do whatever it takes to win.
Mr. Barak seems to have offered something else. He has
suggested that everyone unite behind his policies --
controversial as they are -- due to the emergency. That is, he
wants to carry on with his controversial peacemaking efforts,
but no one should object because of the "emergency." One cannot
blame him for trying, but that is not the conduct of one who
truly believes that he faces an emergency that requires an
approach that commands the assent of all concerned.
In the final analysis, the violence is certainly not a
spontaneous outbreak but rather a calculated policy to achieve
ends. Our strongest reply is not the violence with which we
sometimes must answer (and there is no doubt that sometimes we
must), but rather our determination and ability to lead our
lives despite the Palestinians' worst efforts.
At this point it is clear that even from a tactical standpoint
it is important for us to install effective leadership, and
furthermore that the only way to do that is to hold elections.
And may the best man win.