Breath of Fresh Air

Dear Friends:

The election of Amir Peretz to lead the decrepit Labour Party has stirred the pot of Israeli politics. It has caused a realignment in the Zionist camp. It has brought a breath of fresh air into political discussion.

Many Arab workers and Jewish workers have joined the Labour Party, and many more will vote for it in the coming Knesset elections. Many workers hope that Amir Peretz represents a fresh start, a break from the corrupt Ashkenazi social elite and from militarist domination of politics. Many hope for a more people-friendly social policy, and dream of a renewal of the quest for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Hopes and dreams aside, the Labour Party is not Amir Peretz, and Amir Peretz is not one to break from the Labour Party's core values. Amir Peretz' track record, and his recent statements, show that his fundamental loyalty is to the Jewish state, the Zionist capitalist class, and the militarist-colonialist caste that were created and built and nurtured by the Labour Party.

That is why it is so disconcerting to see the Israeli left-wing once again lining up behind the Labour leadership. All the wise analyses and forecasts about Peretz' revitalizing a "real left" really amount to one thing: the abandonment of all responsibility to contribute to political clarity. Uri Avnery and Jeff Halper and Uzi Burshtein and Michael Warshawsky, each in his own way, has placed his hopes on Peretz to overcome the self-imposed weakness of the Israeli left.

I don't see any reason to get into a debate about Peretz' virtues and vices, and about "dynamics" and "dialectics" and micro-electoral calculations. And the key question is not how one actually casts one's individual vote in the Knesset elections. Political clarity is the only value that can be pursued seriously in the present environment.

The political fresh air is an opportunity to raise and discuss political issues in a new way. People whose hopes have been raised by Peretz will be open to listen and learn new political ideas.

This is the time to make clear that the old regime of Labour and Likud, - Peres, Netanyahu, and Sharon - is the obstacle to a decent life. This is the time to hammer home the need to overthrow and demolish the old regime of occupation and racism. This is the time to demand the unconditional release of Tali Fahima, Marwan Barghouti, Mohammad Kanaana, and all other political prisoners. This is the time to explain patiently that, without the right of return of all the Palestine refugees - yes, to their towns and lands - there is no hope for reconciliation and coexistence between Arabs and Jews. This is the time to emphasize that imperialist-led secret diplomacy is not the path to peace. This is the time to project the need for a popular revolution, to establish a democratic republic, and form a government of workers, farmers and refugees.

The present political state of flux has no significant short-term benefits. It is an opportunity that will bear fruit only in the medium and long-term. It calls for a systematic political campaign to educate widely on the political and social program of a future democratic revolution.

This is not the time to waste breath, tailing after Amir Peretz, or denouncing him for his faults. Political-programmatic clarity is the demand of the hour.


Henry Lowi