Friday, December 23, 2016

The Nakedness of the Israeli Left

Excluding a fifth of Israel’s citizens from their political calculations is not worthy of being called the left.

Salman Masalha ||

The Nakedness of the Israeli Left

The political debate among those who are mistakenly called the “left” in Israel is a barren one, which will not change the present situation. Reports recently published in Haaretz by writers who are members of the “so-called left” camp, paint a dire picture.

The discourse is confined within Jewish ethnic borders. This “left” does not succeed in breaking out of the ethnic-national circle and draft a true left-wing alternative.

Those who are looking for such an alternative cannot ignore a fifth of Israeli citizens. As long as this discourse places the entire Arab population in one basket and treats it as off limits, and unworthy of cooperative efforts - it is by its own words cutting off the branch on which it sits.

In doing so, they place themselves and all those who turn to them in the other basket, the Jewish-Zionist basket. In doing so, they play into the hands of the right in all its forms, from the followers of Bougie Herzog to the supporters of Bibi Netanyahu.

Given the situation today in Israel, the left cannot exist unless it crosses ethnic, tribal and national borders. A left worthy of bearing this title must change its thinking and present a civil alternative that would include all Israeli citizens.

This demand is aimed at both Jews and Arabs. In other words, the alternative must be a civil Israeli party that is neither exclusively Jewish nor Arab.

No casuistry can cover up the nakedness of this “left,” exposed by arguments published in Haaretz. It began with the call from Tzvia Greenfeld, formerly of Meretz, to dismantle the party and merge it with the Zionist Union so that someone in this imaginary camp would do them a favor and include them in a future government coalition.

Her reason is simple: “The coalition on which this camp will want to base itself won’t be able to rely on the Joint Arab List (or on separate Arab parties),” (Haaretz, December 5).

In response, the president of the Meretz assembly, Uri Zaki, wrote that it is not Meretz that needs to be assimilated into the Labor party, but Knesset members with leftist views must leave Labor in order to establish a social democratic left with Meretz (Haaretz, December 7, in Hebrew).

Dmitry Shumsky too does not deviate from the ethnic framework of this imaginary left. Shumsky is stuck deep inside Zionist-national discourse on one side and the Palestinian on the other, and does not manage (and maybe does not want) to erase the ethnic borders of Israel’s political existence.

It is critical in his view that protest against racist incitement from the right and the debate over the normalization of the occupation from the center come forth from institutionalized parties - in the hope that it will draw to it gradually “more and more Israelis from the left wing of the supporters of the Zionist Union.”

His dream is to turn Meretz into a “heavyweight political factor that will be impossible not to consider ... during the labor of putting together a [government] coalition.” (Haaretz, December 14, in Hebrew).

That is how the cat was let out of the bag of the Israeli “left.” Everyone dreams of crawling to the imaginary coalition of the imaginary center. Everyone is busy with Israeli sewage overflowing its banks rather than trying to light a new ideological spark to set the civil imagination alight.

Another way exists to open the stinking blockage of Zionist racism. In order to do so, we must turn to the source of the problem.

Whoever excludes a fifth of Israel’s citizens from their political calculations is not worthy of being called the left. In my opinion they are not worthy of returning to power, and it would be better for them to evaporate as if they never existed at all.
Haaretz, 23.12.2016

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