Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Azmi Bishara Speaks at CPAP

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Azmi Bishara Speaks at CPAP

Article excerpt

AZMI BISHARA SPEAKS AT CPAP

Azmi Bishara, a Palestinian Arab member of the Israeli Knesset, spoke Oct. 26 at the Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine in an effort, in his own words, "to demystify the image of [Ehud] Barak as the peace camp representative in the Middle East." Noting that although some good has come out of the election of Barak as Israeli prime minister in May 1999, nonetheless those who pin their hopes on Barak will be disappointed.

"The left did not win the election," Bishara said. He argued that part of Barak's support came from right-wing secular Israelis -- part of the "Westernized middle class" -- who no longer can tolerate the power of the religious parties in Israel. The "secularization of Israeli society" therefore played a significant role in the elections, Bishara explained.

According to Bishara, the Israeli right wing does not see a large difference between Barak and his Likud party predecessor, former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In addition, the "intifada [already had] convinced the Israeli right-wing that [annexing the West Bank and Gaza] is not viable," said Bishara. At that point the right wing became more amenable to the idea of "demographic separation," or what Bishara and others have called "apartheid."

Bishara said that Arab leaders in the Middle East have put too much hope on Barak because they suffer from a "lack of strategy." He continued, "the only strategy remaining was to wait for Barak." This is why, Bishara said, the Arab leadership played up the importance of a non-Likud leadership in Israel "without doing anything" themselves for three years. …

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