Warning: Dangerous Peaceniks

Looks as if Labor is lethal.

P. David Hornik

OpEds לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7
From July 13, 1992 to June 17, 1996, Israel had a Labor government. Some 207 Israelis died in terror attacks (for the previous 15 years, it was 218).

From June 18, 1996 to July 6, 1999, Israel had a Likud government. A total of 46 Israelis died in terror attacks.

July 7, 1999 to March 6, 2001, a Labor government - 66 dead.

March 7, 2001 to February 27, 2003, a National Unity (Likud-Labor) Government - 677 dead.

February 28, 2003 to the present, a Likud government - 234 dead.

(I compiled these figures from the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.)

Overall, since July 13, 1992, governments with Labor in them have ruled for 2,766 days, in which 950 Israelis were killed. Governments without Labor have ruled for 1,593 days, in which 280 Israelis were killed. It works out to one terror death per 5.67 days under the Likud governments; one terror death per 2.9 days under the Labor and Labor-Likud governments - about twice as many.

Looks as if Labor is lethal.


* It could be objected that the comparison is unfair, because Likud, too, was part of the Unity Government, when terror reached its peak. During that time, though, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon - who certainly shouldn't just be exonerated himself- had Labor's Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for defense minister, whose favorite mantra was, "There is no military solution to terror." And for foreign minister, he had Labor's Shimon Peres, who always thinks he's in a peace process no matter how much blood spatters the streets, and who said last September, "I believe it was right to give [Arafat] the Nobel Peace Prize." In addition, the huge spike in terror known as the "second intifada" began in September 2000, while Ehud Barak and Labor were in power and as a direct result of their policies.

* While the number of deaths under the current Likud government is no great success story, it still represents an improvement, and the frequency of attacks has been steadily declining (just as, in the first Likud period of '96-'99 under Netanyahu, terror greatly diminished).

* While the decline is partly due to the security fence, whose construction began under the Unity Government, it is more because of stepped-up operations against terror and the assassination campaign against heads of terror. Indeed, after the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March, Peres had this to say: "We must look terrible... for killing an old religious leader in a wheelchair coming out of a mosque.... I never thought they would dare to go through with it... Had I been a member of the government, I would have voted against this...."

It should be kept in mind that the whole Oslo reign of terror began under Labor and stemmed directly from its "peacemaking."

So, while Labor still has an image abroad as the "moderate", rational party, Israelis feel differently by now, and that's why we voted overwhelmingly for Sharon against Barak in 2001, and for Likud and other right-wing or centrist parties in 2003.

And now, the whole push is to bring Labor back.

It is yet another symptom of Sharon's "Disengagement Fever", which has already led him to trample Israeli democracy by first ignoring the results of the Likud referendum and then firing two cabinet ministers for the crime of exercising their democratic right to vote against him. And now Sharon wants to bring Egypt back into Gaza and the raggedy remnant of Labor - all 19 Knesset members out of a total of 120, led by peaceniks Peres and Amram Mitzna and with Israel-basher Avraham Burg waiting in the wings - back into his fraying government.

It's not clear that he can swing it. At present, 21 out of 40 Likud MKs oppose letting Labor join, and it's been calculated that 27 of them would have to favor it. Among the Likudniks who do favor another unity coalition, some do so only because they fear a possible alternative - a breakup of the government and new elections - would be even worse.

That, however, is another instance of the phenomenon of disagreement within the Likud. Indeed, Likudniks disagree intensely about the disengagement plan itself. Wherever one stands on the plan, that discord at least seems to be a sign of mental activity. Some Likudniks are enticed by the vision of leaving Gaza with its headaches and a million hostile Arabs; while some, among other concerns including settlements, are asking why it is that Egypt - an anti-Semitic country that has been fueling the terror war all along with weapons smuggled through the Sinai - would turn into a benign policeman after the IDF again clears out of the Strip.

The trouble with Labor is that, in comparison, it's monolithic. True, some current Labor MKs like Ben Eliezer, Danny Yatom or Ephraim Sneh are said to be "centrists" compared to doves like Peres, Mitzna, and Burg - just as in the 1992 elections, Yitzhak Rabin was portrayed as a "hawk" who would never let the party's flower-child wing have its way. In practice, though, not only Rabin, but virtually all of Labor fell into step behind the unilateral-surrender charade known as Oslo; just as they all approved of "hawk" or "centrist" Ehud Barak's "peace" juggernaut, with its disastrous results.

The reason is that Labor is infected with the outlook of the international Left and has long abandoned its old identity combining democratic socialism and Jewish nationalism. Just like the American Left in the War on Terror, Labor will reflexively - whether inside or outside the government - position itself on the softer, gentler, accommodating side, even when facing enemies of ultimate ferocity and cruelty. Ruling in tandem with Likud, Labor will again seek to show the voters that it is "different", and the only way it knows to be different is to capitulate at every turn.

As the possibility of Labor's return to power looms, friends of Israel need to ask themselves if it still deserves its "moderate" image when its policies have demonstrably led to death, conflict and destabilization. As for Israelis, we better start praying.

[The above article also appeared on FrontPage Magazine on June 21, 2004.]