Are we Witnessing the Death Throes of the Israeli Left?
Two recent incidents clarify why the Israeli left-wing is dying, and why, consequently, Netanyahu keeps winning
Books have been written about Israel’s dying left-wing.
Tzvia Greenfield, who despite being an Orthodox Jewess served for three months as a Member of Knesset for the ultra-leftist Meretz party, knows a thing or two about the Israeli left. In her book, Crushing: The Story of the Collapse of the Israeli Left, she says that the left became irrelevant, at best, once it started advocating for the “deserting of the Zionist project along with turning Israel from a Jewish to an egalitarian state.” This, she says, can happen to a people who “have become a herd of living dead … they stumble in the dark, shake their hands and feet, utter voices, but there is no purpose in their actions. With the little strength left in them they struggle along, seeking where to go and why.”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not wishing for the death of the Israeli Zionist left. The Labor Party has a lot to offer, if it would only regain its senses; and it’s not as if our socialists don’t try. The election of Avi Gabai (pictured) as the head of this party was a nice try. But Gabai, a former member of the center-right Kulanu party and a multi-millionaire who gained his fortune in ways that are far from any socialist ideal, doesn’t say much about anything. Nor is he willing to take action against outspoken non-Zionist members of his Labor Party.
Two incidents just in the past week seem to prove Greenfield’s thesis. The first followed an article published by senior Labor member Eitan Cabel, who called to annex the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank. Though this has been Labor’s position for a long time, instead of weighing his proposal seriously, Cabel’s colleges demanded he be tossed out of the party.
The second simultaneous incident came in the form of a Facebook post of Avigdor Feldman, a well-known and influential civil and human rights lawyer. Feldman is known for speaking his mind, no matter the consequences. His candidness, along with him being part and parcel of the Israeli left, turns his post from anecdote to manifest. Feldman, tired of the Israeli left being portrayed as a fifth column, wants to regain this camp’s lost credibility by creating a new left-wing party that will not be ashamed of itself.
This party, Feldman proposes, will follow the left’s glorious past. “We have our own tradition, we fought the fascists, we were sent to the concentration camps before the Jews … we have Rosa Luxemburg, Gramsci, Marcuse, Adorno, we are B’tselem, Yesh-Gvul, Hamoked, Yesh-din [extreme left post-Zionist Israeli NGOs] … Bibi makes us laugh … we are the left, we are leftists, I am the left, I am a leftie.”
And, Feldman is right, he is the Israeli left, which is why the Israeli left is dying. Israeli socialists who dreamed of and fought for a Jewish state are deserting this new post-Jewish left that has little regard, if any, for the Zionist values they still cherish. Indeed, this new left deserves to die, and the sooner the better.
Now, it remains to be seen whether or not the good old socialist Zionism can make a clean break from Feldman and his friends, or will it allow them to keep polluting what remains of the once-formidable party of David Ben Gurion, Berl Katznelson, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin.