Reprinted from Gush Shalom
HAMELIN, a small town in Germany (not so far from where I was born), was infested with rats. In their despair, the burghers called upon a rat-catcher and promised him a thousand guilders for liberating them from this plague.
The rat-catcher took his pipe and played such a sweet melody that all the rats came out of their holes and joined him. He marched them to the Weser river, where they all drowned.
Once freed from this plague, the burghers saw no reason to pay. So the piper took out his pipe again and produced an even sweeter melody. The enchanted children of the town gathered around him and he marched them straight down to the river, where they all drowned.
Binyamin Netanyahu is our pied piper. Enchanted by his melodies, the people of Israel are marching behind him towards the river.
Those burghers who are aware of what is happening are looking on. They don't know what to do. How to save the children?
THE ISRAELI Peace Camp is in despair. No savior is in sight. Many just sit in front of their TV sets and wring their hands.
Among the rest a debate is going on. Will redemption come from within Israel or from outside?
The latest contributor to this debate is Amos Schocken, the owner of the "Haaretz" newspaper. He has written one of his rare articles, arguing that only outside forces can save us now.
Let me first say that I admire Schocken. "Haaretz" ("The Land") is one of the last bastions of Israeli democracy. Cursed and detested by the entire rightist majority, it leads the intellectual battle for democracy and peace, All this while the written media are in dire financial straits, in Israel and around the world. From my own experience as a magazine owner and editor -- who lost this battle -- I know just how heroic and heartbreaking this job is.
In his article Schocken says that the battle to save Israel from within is hopeless, and that we must therefore support the pressures coming from outside: the growing worldwide movement for boycotting Israel politically, economically and academically.
Another prominent Israeli who supports this view is Alon Liel, a former ambassador to South Africa and current university lecturer. Based on his own experience, Liel asserts that it was the worldwide boycott that brought the apartheid regime to its knees.
Far be it from me to contest the testimony of such a towering expert. I never went to South Africa to see for myself. But I have talked to many participants, black and white, and my impression is a bit different.
IT IS very tempting to compare present-day Israel with apartheid South Africa. Indeed, the comparison is almost unavoidable. But what does it tell us?
The accepted view in the West is that it was the international boycott of the atrocious Apartheid regime that broke its spine. This is a comforting view. The conscience of the world woke up and crushed the villains.
But this is a view from the outside. The view from the inside seems to be quite different. The inside view appreciates the help of the international community, but it attributes the victory to the fight of the black population itself, its readiness to suffer, its heroism, its tenacity. Using many different methods, including terrorism and strikes, it finally made Apartheid impossible.