Ramon’s other failures

The critics of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz claim that if a public figure tries to force his tongue into a woman’s mouth, that is insufficient cause for a criminal trial. Haim Ramon’s supporters say that the problematic behavior of the minister is at best deserving of a public trial. However, were we to bring Ramon to such a trial, the kiss, on the doorstep of war and on the doorstep of the Prime Minister’s Office, would have only been a peripheral issue in the indictment. Ramon should have had to answer for his significant part and responsibility in two of the greatest failures of recent years: the shattering of secular central authority in the territories, and the obliteration of the peace camp in Israel.

Exhibit “A” in the public trial of the architect of the disengagement and the engineer of convergence, using the do-it-yourself method, is a collection of photographs of the war raging in the Gaza Strip. In order to emphasize the implications for Israel, we should include reports on preparations for a Gaza version of Operation Defensive Shield. In the Israel Defense Forces, as was reported in Haaretz yesterday, there is concern that the violence will not stop at the borders of the Strip. It is worthwhile to add to these quotes from an interview that Ramon gave to Ari Shavit several months prior to the disengagement. “I think that there will be no war,” the minister asserted last spring, and explained that the Palestinians will have something to lose. Their living conditions will be much better, he said. There will be great pressure on their political leadership not to undertake steps that will turn the wheel backward and bring back Israeli occupation.

Furthermore, he went on to say that every attempt to reach a permanent solution – “like Camp David” – will result in a thousand more deaths. But people are not even ready for an interim agreement, he said, and therefore the option lies between the status quo and a unilateral move: To die or to perform surgery. Ramon did not take into account the possibility that sloppy surgery may lead to a disaster. The unilateral step made the Palestinian partner in dialogue redundant and nearly exhausted the possibility of restoring him to such a position. The entrenchment of Hamas in the territories boosts the position of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan and Syria, to the point that these pose a serious threat to the secular regimes of the closest neighbors of Israel. This is no less serious a threat than the one posed by Iran.

In order to support this argument, it is possible to bring forth Exhibit “B” – an article published in late January in the Arabic daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, under the headline “What will happen if the Muslim Brotherhood take over Palestine?” The columnist and intellectual, Dr. Mamoun Fandi, an Egyptian native, who is a fellow at the Baker Institute and the U.S. Institute for Peace, wrote in the article that the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood (in other words, Hamas), goes beyond the boundaries of the state. According to Fandi, a Hamas takeover of Palestine will not result in the liberation of Palestinian soil, since the Muslim Brotherhood gives priority to destroying the “enemy that is near” – i.e., the Arab states – in order to prepare for dealing with the “enemy that is far”: the State of Israel.

Exhibit “C” would be the public opinion polls that portend the return of the right to power under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, and the collapse of Kadima and the Labor Party. The “big bang,” Ramon’s brainchild, ended with a whimper – the creation of an incompatible coalition, devoid of ideological backbone and undermining the power of the peace camp in general and Labor in particular. Once Ramon, known to be a dove, announced that the Israeli left had completed its task, it is no wonder that many of the best and brightest rushed to Kadima. Once the “boy wonder” of Israeli politics pulled Shimon Peres out of a hat and placed it on Ariel Sharon’s head, it was expected that Labor would lose a half-dozen mandates in the Knesset, and with them the chance of returning to power.

It is unfortunate that central figures in Israeli politics, like Ramon, destroy their careers because of stupid acts. Not only do they give politics a bad name, the focus on their pathetic scandals diverts public discourse from real problems. Perhaps we should even hope that Ramon will be acquitted during his appeal against the verdict of the “kiss trial” – but only on condition that he is put on public trial or leaves the public scene permanently.