The Alternative is at Hand

Newspaper: Jewish Herald
posted on:
29 In mar 1977
Individuals - Abraham (Yair) Stern, Abraham Stavsky, Golda Meir, Haim Arlosoroff, Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Political Parties - Achdut Ha'avoda, Gahal, Likud, Mapai. Elections , Government , Knesset
In the Passover Edition of the Jewish Herald and only a few months before elections, Begin criticizes the Labor Alignment. Begin first shares Jabotinksy's article regarding the murder of Haim Arlozoroff and the Jewish value of one cannot be called guilty until the verdict has been given. However, 23 years later, the late Avraham Stavsky still did not receive a fair trial. This leads Begin to argue that the Government who denied Stavsky a trial has been in power for 44 years. He shares Labor Alignment slogans over the years, such as: "To retain power – everything is permitted," "The Party," and "there is no alternative." Begin responds saying that there is a clear alternative, Likud. He speaks about the seats his party has gained over the years and that today Likud only needs six more mandates to be called upon to form the new Government. He concludes that it is crucial to remove the ruling party because there is no party who holds permanent ownership of the country.
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 "The Alternative is at Hand"

For 44 years Labour has acted as if it owned Israel. We must end their hold on Zion.

THE PRESENT KNESSET election contest is between two schools of thought in political, security, economic, social, educational and ethical thought. In every sphere of national and governmental life those two schools differ – and it will be between them, and not between nuances of the Labour Alignment, that the public will be called upon to decide.

On May 17, the electorate will decide if Israel is to be the sole possession of a continuous political ownership or not. That decision will be vital for the future of the nation, its freedom, security and welfare.

The electorate has recently been spectator to the Rabin-Peres contest and the Yadlin case and its echoes. In reference to that Yadlin judgment, the reader will be able to confirm that not by a single word did the Likud once undermine the principle that in every such matter an accused is to be considered innocent until his guilt is proved in court.


If there is anyone who has not yet assimilated that fundamental legal principle, I should like to remind them of some words they should take to heart:

"…The inciters are not important. It is the nation that is important. I look about me and am amazed: what sort of people are you, my Jewish brethren? Every Jew who can read knows the sacred human principle: even an accused in dock, against whom the prosecutor has already read the charge sheet and delivered his indictment, heaping proof upon proof, is still to be regarded as innocent in principle – innocent in the eyes of the law and the public. That is the most sacred principle and every Jew – especially every Jew – knows it. Even Mendel Beiliss was once arrested by the police and a hundred newspapers reported 'proofs' of his guilt, and every Jew in Zion and the Diaspora insisted that Beiliss could not be called guilty until the verdict had been given. "But today things are different: a band of inciters is trying to convince the public that arrest by the police means that he man arrested is guilty of murder, and the public reacts with equanimity to that crime against the first principle of justice.

"You have no proof yet – only one fact? that the police suspect. And today the public is asked to believe implicitly that the murderer was a Jew – precisely that Jew. And the proof? Well, otherwise the police wouldn't have arrested him.

"The incitement is ugly, but the face of society that tolerates that poisonous, open, intention is also strange.

"At such a moment, the public should ask for one thing of all its utterances: mercy on Israel. Election campaigns are always a time of exaggerated extreme argument – but we cannot tolerate blood becoming a matter for profiteering on the eve of elections. "We cannot allow Jews to run about gloating that the murderer was, thank God, a Jew. Newspapers should not be allowed to fling the filth of a blood libel at the gates of a movement in which your near relatives and your children are active. And a friend who looks on from afar says to you today, without anger, but coldly and firmly: Stop this anarchy!"

Those were extracts from an article written by Jabotinsky on the 20th of June 1933 and published next day, a few days after the murder of Haim Arlosoroff on the Tel Aviv beach and after the arrest of the late Avraham Stavsky as a suspect.

Not only had no trial yet been held, but even the preliminary examination, which was the rule under the British Mandate, had not even held. The police had arrested a man and announced that he was a suspect` – and immediately the spokesman of a Zionist party proclaimed that that suspect was the guilty person, that there was no doubt about it.


In spite of Jabotinsky's appeal, that wave of anarchy did not cease, and the sacred first principle of justice to which I have referred was trodden underfoot in Eretz Israel and the Diaspora.

Twenty-three years later, that terrible injustice was recalled from the rostrum of the Knesset. The fact that the veteran Haganah member, Yehuea Arazi, who had been among Stavsky's investigating officers, had a year before declared on the basis of documentary evidence in his possession that Stavsky had been innocent, was recalled. The Knesset was urged to establish a judicial inquiry committee to make public the truth.

"Do it," the Knesset was urged, "for your own sakes and for the sake of your children…"


That plea was ignored. No judicial inquiry was instituted "to examine the circumstances and the allegations in connection with the murder of Dr. Haim Arlosoroff." And no stop was put to this very day to that anarchic attitude.

The courts acquitted Rosenblat, Stavsky and Abba Achimeier – but those who had libelled them continued to do so. Both before and after the verdict, they cried "Guilty!"

I may be told that all these things happened many years ago. What is the sense in talking about them now? Because there is no chance in history, and what happened then has its repercussions today.

Forty-four years ago "norm" was established which influenced two generations of our people. It was then that a group of people decided that for the sake of "The Party" and to ensure its rule, one was entitle [entitled- JC] to libel, to tread principles of justice underfoot, to expel through false evidence, to give lying evidence, to collaborate with a foreign regime, and more.

"To retain power – everything is permitted" – that destructive slogan has been reflected in action repeatedly against people and groups both before and after the establishment of the State of Israel, and it continues to echo to this very day.

According to that philosophy, on no account must the ruling party be replaced and every means is legitimate to ensure that it is not replaced. That was how the complex of party, or class, ownership grew through two generations over a State which had been established through the foorts [efforts- JC] and sacrifices of the whole nation.

That complex is reflected in everyday thought and expressions: "The Party" – Mapai, and all its transmutations, had no need to mention its name. They don't even say "Our Party." It is THE party. As if there are no others.

The concept of "Hegemony" follows quite naturally from that. It is a concept quite acceptable to all our socialist parties – not democracy, the rule of the people – but hegemony, supremacy over the people.

And inevitably, there is the belief that "there is no alternative." Golda Meir once, in a moment of deep emotion, attacked her party, Mapai, "Tammany Hall" – that New York symbol of corruption. Yet she has once again repeated her claim that there is no alternative to her party.

Really? If we are ruled by Tammany Hall, it is surely a national democratic duty to replace such a regime by one more suitable, one that will renew public morality by its example.

It would be interesting to know if Mrs. Meir, when she was still an American citizen, was agreeable that Tammany Hall should continue its regime.

Mr. Abba Eban, too, stubbornly reiterates that there is no alternative to his party. During his recent "exile" from the party he was able to enumerate innumerable faults he discerned in it – yet he too now enunciates the dictum: No alternative.

Even former members of Mapai who now follow Yigal Yadlin are afflicted by that "disease." After have helped Mapai to rule, they have established their own party and now parrot the cry: "We only!" Their programme is virtually a carbon copy of that of the Labour Alignment – but they are already proclaiming that they, and they alone, deserve to rule. The ownership complex is apparently hereditary.

No alternative? Yet every spokesman of Labour keeps pointing to the basic differences between the Alignment and the Likud.

Indeed, there is an alternative in Israel – a clear, essential alternative. And one that today is not far short of the Alignment in mandates.

The Labour Alignment has 50 representatives in the Knesset, the Likud 40.

There are those who repeatedly taunt us with "eight defeats." The simple truth is that of all the political factors in this country no other has made the progress achieved by the Likud. In the First Knesset the difference between the Herut and Liberal Parties (21) and Mapai (66) was 45 mandates. Today, thanks to the massing of forces over the years through the democratic process, that gap has been cut to 10.

In those days we needed 23 new mandates to achieve the position of first parliamentary party. Today all that are needed are six additional mandates to be called upon to form an alternative Government.

Yet, the "ownership complex" of Labour compels it to parrot the cry: No alternative.

There are good and true men and women in the Labour Party. But it cannot be denied that the leadership of that party is afflicted with a complex which is destructive.

Is everything permissible as long as control of power is retained? No. An end must come to the anarchy that stems from that wretched slogan. There is only one way to heal the ruling regime of its destructive complex – by removing it from office for a period to be decided upon by the electorate. We have no permanent "owners" – except the people themselves.

Translated from the Hebrew by Joe Kuttner.