Indeed, Shavit’s Shabbat idyll continued to be disturbed by visions:
If we’d had peace in the 2000s, then today we’d already have bloodshed. If we had gone to bed with Assad a decade ago, today we’d be waking up with jihad…. Strange substances would be flowing into the Jordan River tributaries….
The Syrian Golan would be turned into a black hole far more dangerous than the black hole of the Sinai desert…. Sooner or later, Israel would have been forced to once again ascend [the Golan]. But this time such an operation would bring ballistic missile barrages on Tel Aviv. The peace I had believed in and fought for would have turned into an enormous war in which it’s possible thousands would have been killed.
How significant is Shavit’s mea culpa? First, it should be noted that Shavit has long been somewhat of an anomaly on the Israeli left, occasionally able to listen to right-wingers and not just vilify them. While criticizing Binyamin Netanyahu, Shavit portrays him as a complex human being and has given him lengthy, respectful interviews. In the late 1990s Shavit made waves with an article castigating his fellow leftists for mindlessly demonizing Netanyahu during his first stint as prime minister.
Yet, for all that, Shavit has been a card-carrying “land for peace” acolyte, and the confession he published on Thursday is symptomatic. No doubt his colleagues on the left—and especially his home paper Haaretz—keep robotically charging Netanyahu with failing to “make peace” with the Palestinians and with “rushing into war” with Iran. Unlike in the 1990s, though, the left no longer even tries to organize demonstrations for “peace.” Nor, this summer, has it been able to revive last year’s brief but widespread “social justice” rallies, instead mustering at most a few thousand radicals and malcontents to bellow inane slogans in the streets of Tel Aviv.
The reason is that Israel is in a different, sober mood now, as the upheavals in Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere have revealed levels of instability and primitive hatred that have surprised even some of the realists. The Israeli left still has strongholds in the media, universities, and justice system and still makes noise, but no longer stands a chance electorally. With Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad having told a gathering of Muslim ambassadors in Tehran last week that “Any freedom lover and justice seeker in the world must do its best for the annihilation of the Zionist regime”—and with even the civilized world reacting with bored silence—Israelis no longer want to hear that Netanyahu is the obstacle to peace.
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