Suddenly, "rightist" has become a dirty word. After years in which "leftist" was considered a curse, everyone is now fleeing from the opposite label. Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaul Mofaz and even Uzi Landau are all trying to shake off any taint of the "extremist" right so as not to be tagged as such.
This is ostensibly a positive development that signals a shift toward the center and left. However, it is actually a mirage: The true extremists are not the "Feiglins" at the margins of the camp, but all of those central players in the heart of the consensus, in the Likud and Kadima, who while trying to rid themselves of an extreme right-wing image, continue to be responsible for a policy that is extreme in an unparalleled way. Between the "moderate" Ariel Sharon and Shaul Mofaz and the "extreme" Moshe Feiglin and Avigdor Lieberman, it would be better to choose the extremists. They have not yet been responsible for any policy, they are not hiding under a false cloak of moderation, and with them, "what you see is what you get."
Sharon and Mofaz, the moderates, are responsible for the most brutal policy Israel has ever conducted in the territories. In fact, they are today the two most extreme politicians on the right. Shimon Peres, who is portrayed as even more moderate than them, has given his full support to their policy. Therefore, he is also an extremist. Avi Dichter and Moshe Ya'alon, the next great hopes of the right and the "moderates," stood at the helm of the two organizations that carry out violent and brutal actions, without restraint, against a helpless civilian population. They cannot be considered moderates by any standard. They are responsible for much more injustice, killing and destruction than the entire "extreme" right.
While Feiglin and Lieberman, the "extremists," only unfurl their satanic doctrine, the "moderates" are responsible for horrible actions. Feiglin does not yet bear responsibility for the shedding of blood and Lieberman has not yet demolished the homes of innocent people. It is true that these two men and their ilk harbor racist doctrines - they aspire to a state "cleansed" of Arabs - but they admit this, at least.
The aspiration is similar, but concealed, in the "moderate" right and left. Those who say, "They are there and we are here," in the words of the moderate Ehud Barak, or those who want "to see as few Arabs as possible" - the most popular national wish among both the right and the left - are tainted by racism. But only Feiglin has been accused of this, and he is the first to admit it. In an interview with Haaretz about 10 years ago, he said with admirable candor: "There is no doubt that Judaism is racist in a certain sense. When they declared that Zionism is racism at the United Nations, I didn't find any reason to protest." While Feiglin speaks about a Jewish state and Lieberman talks about land swaps, the "moderate" leaders of Kadima, Likud and Labor built the fence that is intended to create an ethnic separation in the guise of security.
The self-righteous demonization of Feiglin has a single goal: to create the semblance of a distinction between him and the rest, in order to grant legitimacy to the disguised extremists. Feiglin deserves every condemnation because of his ideas, but it cannot stop with him.
Extremists and moderates on the right have never regarded Palestinians as human beings who deserve equal rights. The extremists admit this honestly, while the moderates cloak their racism and supremacist attitude in hypocritical "security" rationale. Both the extreme right and the "moderate" right (and the "moderate" left as well) ignore the Palestinians' existence. The "moderate" Sharon carried out his ostensibly bold and historic move of disengagement while blatantly ignoring the Palestinians, and in precisely the same way he is building the separation fence that is dissecting their country - and all with the support of the Labor Party.
All of the decisions that have critical implications for the lives of the Palestinians - the establishment of settlements, the dismantling of a small number of them, the building of the separation fence - share a common denominator: Israel made these decisions without considering the needs and rights of the other people. Any unilateral arrangement is based on disregard for the other side and thus entails an element of racism. There is no difference between this disregard for the Palestinians, as if they were human dust, and the racist theories of the extreme right. If Feiglin and Lieberman aspire to a state that is exclusively for the Jewish nation, Sharon and Mofaz are already, in practice, acting as if only Jews live here.
What is the difference between Feiglin, who said in the Haaretz interview 10 years ago that there is no Palestinian people, and Sharon, who acts everyday as if this people did not exist, and is not trying to conduct any dialogue with it? Lieberman wants to transfer half the Arabs in Israel to the Palestinian state without asking them what they want, and Sharon built a wall without asking the residents whose land it is dividing.
The distinction between extremists and moderates in Israeli society must, therefore, undergo an urgent revision. The use of these terms in their current formula is misleading. In this way, Sharon and, in fact, Peres have succeeded in deceiving Israelis and the entire world in presenting themselves as moderates. But a moderate is only someone who recognizes the existence of the Palestinians as a people with equal rights and who is ready to draw the obvious political conclusions from this. Whoever does not recognize the rights of the other and ignores its existence is an extreme rightist, regardless of whether his name is Feiglin, Mofaz, Netanyahu or Sharon.
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