... [P]eople who talk about the failure of leadership this past summer are "really yearning for a victorious leader to restore their lost pride". What the demonstration should have been about was a call for "a bold diplomatic initiative" for peace. ... which is why I went to last night's demonstration as an observer, and not as a participant.The following is an abbreviated version of Susie Becher’s online article at Ynet:
Unfortunately, the Israeli internal political chaos is happening precisely at a moment when there are signs of possible movement on the diplomatic front, what is called around here a "window of opportunity". We have Syrian calls for talks, we have an Arab reaffirmation of the 2002 Arab League Initiative which calls for peace between Israel and the entire Arab world based upon an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel and an agreed upon solution to the refugee problem, and we even have the bumbling and slumbering American giant insisting on [periodic] meetings between the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian president, with a clearly formulated document of "benchmarks" for forward progress. ...
It's not all about Olmert: Artificial spirit of anti-Olmert national unity threat to democracy
The airwaves are full of warnings that Olmert's failure to step down is – in the fashionable language of the day – a threat to democracy. The real threat, however, lies in the artificial spirit of national unity that is obfuscating the principles that lie at the heart of the division between Right and Left. ...
Yes, Olmert should resign, but less because the Winograd Committee found that he mismanaged the conduct of the war than because it found that he went to war without considering the whole range of options, including moves on the diplomatic front. Even had the war achieved its aims, the prime minister would not be absolved of responsibility for the lives lost in securing militarily what might have been secured without firing a shot.
The indictment of the government will certainly get worse as the committee looks at the later stages of the war, particularly the shameful decision to launch an offensive as the cease-fire resolution was rolling off the presses, but the biggest mistake was at the beginning – the very decision to go to war. ... Israel has every right to defend itself, but military action is not necessarily the best and certainly should not be the first line of defense.
Lesson for the public
It is true that the committee noted that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon allowed Hizbullah to strengthen its positions along the border, but this is an indictment not of withdrawal but of unilateralism. ... after turning his back on peace with Syria in January 2000, Ehud Barak was left with no choice but to withdraw from Lebanon five months later in a vacuum, with no diplomatic framework to ensure the stability of the area.
The same can be said of our southern border, where the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was conducted in total disregard of the Palestinian side. Here, too, the absence of diplomacy failed to bring about quiet, and here, too, military force is failing as a response to the Qassam rockets that are plaguing our southern cities.
There is no question that the man who was chastised for a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility, and prudence cannot be trusted to implement the committee's recommendations. But there is a lesson here for the public as well.
The committee pointed out that the decisions made by the government last summer enjoyed broad support among the public. ... Today, following the release of the scathing interim report, the public understands that it was misled. ... What remains is for the public to sober up to the fact that it is being misled with regard to the entire regional picture.
One need look no further than the overtures coming from Syria and the Arab League Initiative to understand that the conventional wisdom that there is no one to talk to is nothing but a myth. The most important lesson to be learned from the Winograd findings is not that Israel must prepare itself better for war but that it must adapt its strategic thinking to prepare for peace.
Susie Becher is a member of the National Executive of Meretz-Yachad.