Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yossi Beilin, Architect of Israel's Disasters

You may not have heard of Yossi Beilin, but you know his works. He is a politician on the far left of Israeli politics, having led the Meretz-Yachad party from 2003-2006. The roots of Meretz are in Mapai, a Stalinist pro-Soviet faction of the Israeli left that even managed to alienate the Israeli Labor Party led by David Ben-Gurion. In more recent years, Meretz was the most fervent advocate of withdrawal from all territories captured during the 1967 War (including even the historic Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem), the secularization of Israel, and the change of its character from a Jewish State to "a state of all its citizens."

Meretz never commanded the loyalties of more than a small fraction of Israeli voters, smaller even than the Israeli fervently Orthodox Hareidi parties. However, Beilin's political influence dates back to his years with the Israeli Labor Party, especially his term as Deputy Foreign Minster in the government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres from 1992 through 1995. In that capacity, he participated in the secret negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization that led to the Oslo Accords. He also was a leader of the Israeli delegation in subsequent negotiations with the Palestinians. A description of his career appears in Wikipedia.

Last month, Beilin announced that he would not seek a place on the Meretz-Yachad ticket in the upcoming elections. In today's Ha'Aretz (English edition), in a column entitled "Yossi Beilin's Poodles," Israel Harel, a right-wing nationalist columnist, assesses the results of Beilin's 31-year political career. [Ha'Aretz is a left-wing paper, but carries Harel's columns. Beilin's own writings also frequently appear in Ha'Aretz.] Harel notes that Beilin was sometimes derided as "Peres' oodle," but argues that in reality "he made Shimon Perez and Yitzchak Rabin the poodles of his initiatives," the fruits of which have been disastrous for Israel. The column is an excellent critique of Israel's misguided "peace policy," from the right-wing nationalist perspective.

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