Our forehead gets covered in cold sweat on sleepless nights with the oh so banal question: What would have happened here – and has already happened – had it been the other way around? The State of Israel would have been covered in flames a long time ago.
Until 1977, we were ruled by the Labor Party in its different forms, mainly under the name Mapai, and it was very much similar to a dictatorial government. It's hard to believe what the State's leaders allowed themselves to do at the time.
Here's a small example: Several years ago I met a former Shin Bet man, one of the first people to serve in this intelligence body, who enjoyed telling me how one of his first "exercises" was stealing documents Menachem Begin had kept under his pillow in a Jerusalem hotel room while he slept. "The problem," he recounted, "was mainly how to put the documents back under the pillow."
The Likud, Mapai members' nightmare, rose to power led by that same Begin 37 years ago. In other words, it has been in command for almost half of the State's existence, excluding the three and a half years of the Yitzhak Rabin government, a total of two and a half years of Shimon Peres as prime minister, and about a year and a half under Ehud Barak.
In the never-ending battle between the socialist camp and the national camp throughout history, the Mapainikim always argued that the ideas from the school of the Revisionist Movement's leader were unfeasible. "Two banks has the Jordan, this is ours and that is as well" is a nice song when taking a shower or a bath, not as the leader of a national idea and state.
The dream about the Greater Israel was already destroyed by the Brits, in the different partition plans – but it was David Ben-Gurion who gave it the final blow. He declared the State's establishment in 1948, leaving Begin and his friends in their dreams. Even arrant Mapai haters will admit today that those dreams were false. Mapai's pragmatism won.
Songs and dreams vs. reality
The national dream came to life again with the amazing military victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. "We have returned to Anatot and to Shilo and to Beit El in order to never leave," Moshe Dayan declaimed, but the national camp quickly stumbled upon the bitter truth, in its eyes, geographically and demographically. This reality became more tangible when Menachem Begin entered the Prime Minister's Office. Suddenly, he realized that there are songs and dreams, and there is a harsh and cruel reality.
The Likud governments have always tried to deceive and outsmart reality, ignore our near and far surroundings. They tried and managed to create facts on the ground, without giving a damn about what the world says and thinks and does. So far, and perhaps in the future too, they got away with it.
But Begin, even Yitzhak Shamir, as well as Arik Sharon and Ehud Olmert, personally experienced the limitations of the Israeli government in the Prime Minister's Office. It's a small country, it's a small people – faced by a cruel world. On this backdrop we must praise, glorify and exalt the fate and history which gave the premiership to Likud members of all people. They have been torn for years between dreams and reality, and this situation turns their stomach – and their basic opinions as well.
History is unfamiliar with the concept of "if." But we are not exempt from the horrifying thought of what would have happened here had the Yamit region not been evacuated by Begin, had Gush Katif not been evacuated by Sharon, had it not been Olmert who presented the biggest map of concessions to the Palestinians.
How do we know this is all true? Because all this has already happened: For much less than this we have seen hot-tempered demonstrations, calls for use of force, halachic rulings by rabbis – and a prime minister's murder.