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Photo: GPO
Lili Sharon with husband Arik. Right-wing activist wants her grave removed
Photo: GPO
Leave Lili alone
An attempt to strike at Ariel Sharon is a new low for Israeli politics

The State of Israel stands today before a national crisis that will greatly affect the coming years - a crisis of leadership.

 

We have not developed a new generation of leaders to replace the faces that have played the political game year after year, term after term, decade after decade.

 

Rather than successfully attracting our quality young people to political life and nurturing them to lead the country, Israeli politics has for years turned our best and brightest away from public life.

 

Personal, corrupt fighting

 

Politics here are filled with fights around personal interests, by politicians the public long ago labeled as corrupt.

 

And why should the public feel any different? It would be hard to find speech, Knesset bill or diplomatic initiative that wasn't hatched from some-or-another personal interest; when every political appointment or dismissal has to do with the settling of personal scores; when ideology long ago became an amorphic phrase, when every connection between ideology and political, social or economic outlook has become no more than mere words?

 

Outrageous appeal

 

The appeal by right-wing activist Noam Federman asking the Supreme Court to remove the grave of Lili Sharon, the prime minister's late wife, from the grounds of Sycamore Ranch is but one example of the ethical scandals that continue to rage out of control in Israel today.

 

Officially, Federman's appeal is based on the fact that the grave site is not in an area designated by the state as a cemetery.

 

But Federman is not shy about his true intention in submitting the appeal. It meant to get even with Ariel Sharon for the removal of graves from Gush Katif less than two months ago.

 

The prime minister well understands Federman's intentions, and told the court the move was intended to exact revenge "in light of recent political moves I've carried out, first and foremost disengagement." Everything is personal.

 

New lows

 

I'm no lawyer, and it is not my job to decide the legal merits of Federman's case.

 

But in my opinion, the case draws Israeli politics even further down into the mud, a political life which in any event long ago ceased serving the citizens of this country.

 

I, too, fought with all my might to stop the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank.

 

I believed, and still believe, that the process was mistaken from its very roots, that it carried with it a serious security risk for Israel, and that turned thousands of citizens into refugees in their own country.

 

But as someone who sat at the head of the anti-disengagement struggle in the Likud Party, I feel a moral obligation to speak out strongly against the appeal to move Lili Sharon's grave.

 

Over-the-top and immoral

 

I'm sorry to say, but once again radical right-wingers have used over-the-top, unethical measures to cast a dark cloud of the entire nationalist camp and on Israeli politics in general.

 

I am convinced that the destruction of Gaza was illegitimate, both politically and morally.

 

I am also convinced the prime minister undertook the move undemocratically.

 

But exactly for these reasons, anti-disengagement forces must settle scores with Ariel Sharon politically.

 

We must work hard to use the tools provided by democracy to convince a majority of Israeli voters of our ideas, to return the Likud Party to its principles.

 

But more than that, even if we have a political score to settle with Ariel Sharon, we must oppose in the strongest of terms any involvement of his late wife.

 

Does the demand to remove her grave not violate both our principles of honoring the dead and those who honor her memory?

 

We must reject any and all attempts of this type. They drag the level of Israel's public life to depths none of us want to get to.

 

Affecting lives

 

Politics deals with peoples lives; the decisions made affect everyone.

 

Only a fool believes it would be possible to completely separate personal matters from political life.

 

But if we resign ourselves to the fact that everything is personal, that everything is driven by narrow, cynical interests, we will have given up on the hope of creating a better future for Israel.

 

A future that will allow every Israeli to look into his children's eyes and believe he has left them with an honorably polity; a country that looks only toward one interest – the national interest, that we swore allegiance to when the country was born.

 

Eliezer Hasdai is the head of the Alfei Menashe regional council and a member of the Likud Central Committee

 

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