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Woe to the Victor

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"VAE VICTIS!" was the Roman cry. Woe to the vanquished.

I would alter it slightly: "Vae Victori" -- Woe to the victor!

The outstanding example is the astounding victory Israel won in June, 1967. After weeks of approaching doom, the Israeli army beat three Arab armies in six days and conquered huge stretches of Egyptian, Syrian and Palestinian territory.

As it turned out, this was the greatest disaster in our history. Intoxicated by the very size of the victory, Israel started down a road of political megalomania, which led to the dire consequences from which we are unable to free ourselves to this very day. History is full of such examples.

Now we have witnessed the totally unexpected election success of Ya'ir Lapid. It may turn out to be the same story in miniature.

LAPID WON 19 seats. His is the second largest faction in the 120-seat Knesset, after Likud-Beitenu, which has 31 seats. The composition of the House is such that it is almost impossible for Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition without him.

The former TV star is in the position of a child in a candy store, who can take whatever he desires. He can pick and choose any government post he fancies for himself and his minions. He can impose on the Prime Minister almost any policy.

That's where his troubles start.

Put yourself in his place, and see what that must mean.

FIRST OF ALL, what job should you choose?

As the major partner in the coalition, you have the right to choose one of the three major ministries: defense, foreign affairs or treasury.

Seems easy? Well, think again.

You can take defense. But you have no defense experience whatsoever. You have not even served in a combat unit, since your father got you a job on the army's weekly paper (a lousy paper, by the way.)

As defense minister, you would in practice be the superior of the Chief of Staff, almost a Commander in Chief. (Under Israeli law, the entire government is the Commander in Chief, but the Minister of Defense represents the government vis-a-vis the armed services.)

So defense is not for you.

YOU CAN take foreign affairs. It's really the ideal job for you.

Since you want to become Prime Minister next time, you need public exposure, and the Foreign Minister gets plenty of that. You will appear in photos alongside President Obama, Angela Merkel, Vladimir Putin and a host of other world celebrities. The public will get used to seeing you in this distinguished international circle. Your telegenic good looks will enhance this advantage. Israelis will take pride in you.

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Gush

Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli (more...)
 
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