In Israel, Political Fights Have Always Gotten Ugly

On his way to cast his vote in Jerusalem yesterday, President Reuven Rivlin told reporters that he was “ashamed” that his country had to go through “another awful and grubby election campaign.” But, as Tevi Troy relates, the Jewish state has a long history of ferocious political rivalries, beginning with that between Chaim Weizmann, the first person to hold Rivlin’s position, and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. And the mutual hatred between that pair was no greater than that between the two great heroes of the Labor party, Yitzḥak Rabin and Shimon Peres:

Rabin and his nemesis Shimon Peres feuded for decades before Rabin’s tragic assassination in 1995. The two men had known each other since the 1940s, but their enmity reached a boiling point in 1974, when they both vied to replace [Golda] Meir as Labor leader and prime minister. Rabin won—with Meir’s behind-the-scenes help—but it was close, and their contest would have consequences. Peres [garnered] enough support to compel Rabin to appoint him defense minister, and the hardball tactics employed in the race deepened their mutual hatred.

While serving in government together, the two men had some significant disagreements. One was over the development of the first settlements on land Israel had won during the 1967 war. Another was over the risky but ultimately successful hostage-rescue operation of a hijacked Air France plane in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976. In both cases, Peres was for, and Rabin against, and they fought it out via their allies in the press.

Rabin maintained his feud with Peres after losing the premiership in 1977. [Four] years later, Rabin challenged Peres in an open primary for the Labor party leadership, and won. Once again, Peres joined the cabinet under his rival, as foreign minister. This time, it was Peres who was the more dovish one, pushing surreptitious peace talks with the Palestinians that ultimately became the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Three days before the signing of the accords, Peres could not stand the notion that Rabin was getting the credit, griping, “That man ruined my life. I’ve been working for him for over sixteen years, and he doesn’t say ‘thank you’ to me. He’s crazy, and now he wants to hijack my ceremony.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, Israeli history, Reuven Rivlin, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict