With the most recent polls now showing that the "Blue and White" faction will become the Knesset's largest on April 9, some in Israel are beginning to rethink the core issue of the upcoming national election.
Blue and White's campaign slogan is "Neither Left Nor Right. Israel Before Everything." But that leaves the voter to wonder, does this party lean more left, or more right? Or, does it mean to suggest that the old rival ideologies have finally exhausted themselves, and are no longer relevant? Perhaps it is a merger of the left and the right to form a new ideology? And, if so, what does this new ideology stand for?
On Monday, Blue and White published its official party platform, and, as expected, it's fuzzy enough attract voters from both sides of the political map. It calls, for example, for separation from the Palestinians without mentioning the words "Palestinian state." It no longer speaks about annulling the Nation State Law. Instead, it proposes new legislation regarding equality. It also advocates for public transportation on the Sabbath day, and equal rights for the gay community, which includes marriage and surrogacy.
Those who point out that Blue and White neither walks like a duck nor talks like a duck are instead suggesting that the party walks and talks like "Srulik." And that's very interesting, indeed.
Srulik, or "the Sabra," was a cartoon character symbolizing the "product" of the Zionist project to create a new Jew representing the pioneer ideals of the early 20th century. Srulik was supposed to be a Jew freed of the exilic complexes that have long made Jews submissive and powerless victims.
The Sabra was expected to jump over 2,000 years of exile straight into a socialist utopia that aspired to physical prowess and ascetic living in a communal, productive and atheistic society. In other words, the very antithesis of the downtrodden Diaspora Jew preoccupied with countless religious nuances.
In his two-volume work The Sabra: The Creation of the New Jew (2004), Oz Almog, artist and sociologist by profession, argued convincingly that the attempt to separate between Srulik and his Jewish identity was a dismal failure.
But Srulik didn't die. He morphed to Mr. and Ms. Israeli, who continue to live and walk in the path preordained for them by Srulik. Stripped of faith and religion, they, as Israelis, must adapt to the 21st century. So, instead of clinging to the pioneer ideal, today's Israeli is championing the ideals of the human rights activist. This new Srulik is still a godless Jew, but one that now believes that the state's democratic nature should overpower its Jewish character. This brand of Israeli opposes both the "occupation" and a Palestinian state. He is for a Jewish state that sanctions Sabbath violation, and so on.
Blue and White is seen as the political manifestation of Srulik-turned-modern Israeli. And if that is the case, then the party truly isn't about left or right. Instead, it's about the divide between Jews and Israelis, between those who see Israel as a Jewish state first, and those who insist the the state's democratic nature supersedes ethnicity, that it wipes away Jewish character.
Accordingly, the upcoming election is not about progressives verses conservatives. Rather, if you like, it is about who will dominate this land, the kingdom of Judea, or the kingdom of Israel.
PHOTO: The leaders of Blue and White, from left to right – Gabi Ashkenazi, Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)