Shelly Yachimovich is "sick and tired of hearing about what is happening in the Muqata." She wants to be "where the real social and economic tragedy is occurring." Thus, the strong-minded and ideological journalist, one of the best we have known, explains the gist of what impelled her to take the welcome step of moving from journalism to politics. With these words, Yachimovich expressed the widespread public sentiment of everyone who is tired of the endless focus on the "Palestinian problem," terrorism and the demarcation of the state's future borders. She defines the discussion on all of these issues as "barren." Yes, she is in favor of ending the occupation, but this is not the main thing in her view.
This is a bit of a troubling start for the new politician, who, together with the refreshing "social" breeze generated by her ideological hero, Amir Peretz, is likely to attract many supporters. And, in truth, who is not sick and tired of hearing about the injustices of the occupation? How long can we continue discussing the separation fence and the apartheid roads? It is better for us to turn our attention inward, many think, to the real ills of society, and to focus on them instead. This is a dangerous mirage precisely for those like Peretz and Yachimovich, who want so much to reform the society "from within."
In days that are almost free of terror, the heart is tempted to believe the time has indeed come to deal with the "social" problems and to leave the "barren issue" aside. No terror attacks, no Arabs: We are again liable to send the message to the Palestinians that without terror, their issues will be put on the back burner, as was the case during all of the long and relatively quiet years of occupation prior to the eruption of the first intifada. We should not be confused into thinking that we are exempt from dealing with this issue because both candidates for prime minister, Peretz and Ariel Sharon, are already talking about a Palestinian state in any case - never mind when, in which format and in what borders - and that the majority of Israelis already support its establishment.
But above all, the idea that our internal and social problems can be separated from "what is happening in the Muqata" is distorted. The most burning social issue under our feet is the occupation. It is impossible to be a social activist in Israel and ignore the harm we are doing to another society that is under our oppressive control, just as it is impossible to be a true labor leader without being concerned about the tens of thousands of unemployed and exploited laborers in the territories under our control. Peretz's great weakness is that he has not given enough thought to the social policy of Israel in the territories. Indeed, the policy of occupation is also a social policy and a society that acts in this way cannot be healthy and function well even if it reforms its other inequities.
A short history lesson for Peretz and Yachimovich: Discrimination against workers in Israel began with the exploitation of tens of thousands of laborers from the territories. Next came the foreign workers and temp agency workers, until Israel workers also became downtrodden. The "piggish capitalism" began, therefore, with the occupation, and will not end until the occupation is over. Even if there is no longer a single unemployed and deprived worker in Israel, we will remain an unjust society as long as we continue to be an occupying society.
As long as we do not resolve the Palestinian problem, we will also not solve the "Jewish problem." There is no way to achieve social justice in an occupying society. "The real tragedy" of Israeli society is the occupation. Without getting rid of this curse, it will be impossible to fundamentally solve any other problem; and, on the other hand, getting rid of this malignancy will greatly assist in solving all of the other problems. Therefore, the agenda should be based on the severity of the illness: First of all, deal with the primary growth, the most threatening of all, the occupation; and only then can we really be free to tackle its secondary effects, which have reached all segments of the society.
Yachimovich is accused of having been a journalist "with an agenda." This is how we relate to journalists whose agenda differs from the consensus and uniform chorus. All of those who justify the occupation, the military and political correspondents, the commentators and columnists, the Middle East experts and Arabists, are not accused of having an agenda. "Agenda" is a pejorative term we use to disparage an alternative and oppositionist outlook. To accept the policy of targeted killings is not an agenda, but to oppose them is. This works to the advantage of journalists like Yachimovich, whose subversion focuses on social and economic issues. On these subjects, it is permissible to say almost anything, even on television and radio. But when it comes to the question of the occupation, the truly critical question, our system does not condone a view that opposes the accepted order. On Channel 2, Yachimovich could strongly criticize the ills of the economy, but it is doubtful whether she could have criticized with equal fervor the moral distortions and war crimes of the occupation - as if they could be separated from the economic ills.
Now, as Yachimovich embarks on a new path, we should wish her good luck. But she should also remember that a moral worldview must be a comprehensive one, which cannot be divided. Sick and tired of hearing about the Muqata? Let's get up and out of there.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now