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The False Torch

By       Message Uri Avnery       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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Source: Gush Shalom


YA'IR LAPID, the freshman parliamentarian and Treasury Minister, has declared that from now on he will deliver all his important speeches outside the Knesset, confining his Knesset appearances to the legal minimum.

The reason: members from the opposition interrupt him. He cannot marshal his thoughts when interrupted. Since he is used to making his speeches with the help of a teleprompter, without interruptions of any kind, this bothers him.

What does that tell us about him?

During my 10 years in the Knesset, I made about a thousand speeches from the rostrum, some sort of record. It was always my fervent hope to be interrupted. The interjections enlivened the speeches, allowed me to retort, clarified points, attracted press coverage.

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I was also a very frequent interrupter myself. I thoroughly enjoyed making "Zwischenrufe," as the Germans call parliamentary interjections, saying in half a dozen words what I would otherwise have needed a whole speech to express.

This give-and-take is the essence of parliamentary debate. It tests your quickness of mind, mastery of the subject and general alertness. Without it, Knesset debates would be just a dull exercise in wordiness.

I remember one minister who would be totally derailed by interruption. It was Ariel Sharon. Interrupted in the middle of a sentence, he became flustered and had to start anew. But he was a veteran general, and generals are not accustomed to being interrupted by lesser mortals.

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So here was this (relatively) young man, a journalist and TV personality, who cannot bear his thoughts -- such as they are -- to be interrupted.

WHAT ARE these precious thoughts that cannot stand being interrupted?

For several months now Lapid has been the center of interest in Israeli politics. And not only in Israel. Time Magazine, doggedly remaining ridiculous after anointing Binyamin Netanyahu as Israel's "King Bibi," placed Lapid among the world's 100 most influential people. So by now we should have an inkling of what Lapid really thinks.

During his extremely successful election campaign, with the help of local pollsters and American advisors, Lapid carefully selected a few themes and stuck to them.

There were three main promises:

First, to save the middle class, which, he maintained, had been downtrodden under previous governments.

Second, to achieve "equality of (bearing the) burden," that is to compel ultra-orthodox youngsters to serve in the army like everybody else. Since the founding of the state, tens of thousands of these young men and women have been exempted -- as have the Arab citizens, though for quite different reasons.

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Third, to restart the "political process" (the term used in Israeli parlance to avoid the awful word "peace") in order to achieve a "permanent solution" (ditto) based on two states.

As it turns out, all three promises were blatant lies.

NO ONE quite knows what the "middle class" is. But it must be assumed that they lie somewhere in the middle between the stinking rich and the abject poor. That may mean almost the entire population or at least a large part of it.

It is not easy to pin down Lapid's social-economic proposals, since he changes them all the time. The public has already grown used to the spectacle: in the morning Lapid proposes some measure to reduce the deficit (say, by the raising of tuition fees), by noon a howl of protest engulfs the government, in the evening the proposal is quietly dropped.

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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 ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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