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September 25, 1981 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-09-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Friday, September 25, 1981 25

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

`Orientalization' of Israel Bodes Well for State, M.E.



By ALON BEN-MEIR

ST. LOUIS — When
Labor Party leader Shimon
Peres claimed to have a
moral mandate to form a
new government the day
after the election, not only
was he well aware of the fact
that Labor had lost its man-
date to lead, but that it had
precipitated its own defeat.
To many observers of the
Israeli political scene, the
Likud victory in May 197'7
was brought about because
of defections from the rank
and file of the Labor Party,
defections which contrib--
uted to the emergence of the
Democratic Movement for
Change headed by Yigal
Yadin.
While it is true that
Labor's weak performance

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Thus, it is hardly sur-
prising that the Labor
Party which is
Ashkenazic in inspira-
tion, has tried to prevent
the situation from chang-
ing. Unfortunately, al-
though its leaders were
confronted with these is-
sues in the recent elec-
tion, Labor still refused
to recognize the prob-
lems. ---
The myth that the Labor

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in 1977 can be partly at- •
tributed to massive defec-
tions, on the one hand, and
to widespread corruption
within the Labor hierarchy
on the other, the Likud's
1977 victory was mainly
due to the solid support the
party received from Israel's
"silent majority." After
three decades of Labor rule,
Israel's Sephardic (non-
European) Jews, who now
comprise some 56 percent of
Israel's population — have
moved to end a political sys-
tem which perpetuates so-
m
cial conflict between the
and the Ashkenazi (Euro-
pean) Jews — a conflict
based on old socio-economic
disparities and transmuted
into a struggle for political
power from which the
Sephardic Jews were
excluded.

1

Party represented the
majority of the Israelis has
been finally dispelled. The
results of the June 30 elec-
tion demonstrated that the
Israelis have not only
shifted politically to the
right, but that a dramatic
shift towards the "Orien-
talization" of the state of Is-
rael is now in the making.
The shift to the right (and
support for Israel's reten-
tion ofJudaea, Samaria and
the Gaza District) seems on
its face inconsistent with
the simultaneous "Orien-
talization" of the country.
An Israel in which Sephar-
dic Jews play a leading role
is not likely to be any more
loved by the Arabs than
when it was run by
Ashkenazi leaders; at least,
however, it will be more
understandable to the
Arabs, and perhaps, even
tually, more palatable as
well.
Hence, it is not unlikely
that the two trends may
contribute to a solution to
the Arab-Israeli conflict,
and a more equitable
society.

A new Begin govern-
ment, which is expected
to encompass Israel's
entire political spectrum
on the right and in which
the Sephardic Jews will
carry discernible politi-
cal clout, may be in a
position to advance a
formula leading towards
such a solution. Though
Begin's policy may seem
intransigent on the sur-
face, it remains the only
viable one which satisfies
the national aspirations
of both Arabs and Jews.

In contrast, the Labor
Party, after 29 years of con-
tinuous rule, failed misera-
bly in dealing with the
Palestinians. The concept of
territorial compromise, a
solution advocated by Labor
since 1967, was flatly re-

t.,1,-, r ,-

ALON BEN - MEIR

jected by all concerned Is-
raelis and Palestinians.
The portrayal of Israel as
a Western society in the
heart of the Middle East
further stiffened Arab resis-
tance.
The Jewish right to settle
in Judea and Samaria is
consistent with the question
of sovereignty, which is to
be left open and to be deter-
Mined after a five-year
transitional period.

The "Orientalization"
of Israel might have yet
another salutary effect: it
could change the as-
sumptions that underlie

current approaches to
the thorny issue of
Jewish settlements in
Judea and Samaria. The
right to settle could be
ensured if it were under-
stood that the settlers
had to accept local (i.e.,
Palestinian) administra-
tive controls under
appropriate safeguards,
much as Palestinian citi-
zens of Israel are now
subject to Israeli law and
administration. Criti-
cally, the settlers would
not be regarded as aliens,
but as familiar co-
inhabitants of the same
country.

To be sure, the vote of con-

fidence that was awarded to
the Likud signals a fateful
shift in Israel's future social

and political course. Israel

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