JERUSALEM (Jun. 16)
Public criticism is beginning to be voiced over the government’s handling of the war in Lebanon and indeed over the necessity for the war. Some Labor Party figures have begun to air criticism, and the Peace Now movement, having deliberately kept silent up to now, placed newspaper ads yesterday demanding that the hostilities end.
The criticism is still muted, in view of the ongoing state of military emergency and the sorrow and grief that has befallen so many Israeli families in the wake of the war casualties. “The time is not yet at hand to make our reckoning with the government,” Labor leader Shimon Peres told a long and stormy faction meeting yesterday. He said he would wait until the mourning period was over.
But some members of the faction did not wait. Rabbi Menachem Hacohen, a Labor MK, said he was not at all sure that the Israeli blood spilled had been worthwhile. Adi Amorai noted that more Israelis were killed in this campaign against the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon than had been killed by the PLO over the past dozen years and more.
Another doveish Labor Knesseter, Nava Arad, said she felt the operation could have been prevented had the opposition acted more forcefully.
But other Laborites, mainly the hawks in the party such as Michael Bar-Zohar and Shoshana Arbeli, spoke in favor of the operation in both the initial operation against the PLO and the extended battles with the Syrians.
The Peace Now ads note that thousands of civilians “are being killed in this war. This is unprecedented in Israel’s wars. Why are they being killed …? Why are (Israelis) being killed…?
“Will this terrible war break the cycle of violence and hate? Is our existence in the balance? We say to the government. Stop.”
The ads urged that the time was now right for a call “to the Palestinian people to join a negotiation on peace. Now is the time to set up a peace based on mutual recognition…”
Movement leaders said they would still desist from street demonstrations pending a stabilization of the cease-fire. But they indicated that such demonstrations would be called.