Thursday, December 12, 2002
Ha'aretz compares Sharon to Golda Meir. It's an interesting (and amusing) comparison! But the final paragraph is confusing:
American columnist William Safire wrote recently that Limor Livnat is the "next Golda Meir." He is wrong: Sharon has already taken the part. Golda and Sharon did not share the same background; nor did the two get along. But both reached the top at advanced ages and had similar perspectives. Like Meir, Sharon is wary of any compromise with the Arabs; like Meir, Sharon believes that having an understanding with the U.S. suffices to avoid concessions, win elections, and enjoy public support. At least in one of these two cases, these beliefs produced a national catastrophe.
The catastrophe referred to is the Yom Kippur War. But in what sense were Prime Minister Meir's objections to concessions the cause of that war? Is it plausible that the Arab states - which rejected any recognition of Israel after 1967 - would have been more forthcoming if Meir had continued the conciliatory line of the Eshkol government? If there is a left-wing case to be made for Israel failing to "grasp the olive branch" it is in the wake of '79, not in the period before '73. You can make the argument that, after the peace with Egypt, a serious attempt to construct an autonomous region in the West Bank and Gaza would have brought a lasting end to the conflict. (The right-wing response to this is that such an attempt was impossible so long as the PLO was able to wipe out elements open to conciliation, and that therefore the real missed opportunity was in '82, in letting Arafat escape from Lebanon.)
The Yom Kippur war was a catastrophe, yes: a catastrophe caused by Israeli over-confidence and intelligence failure after the massive victory in '67. If Ha'aretz wants to argue that the Sharon government is being insufficiently vigilant against, say, the potential of a massive attack from the North, or Egypt abrogating the security provisions of its peace with Israel, or an Iraqi Scud attack, they should make that case.
I thought not.