The Israeli left at play
Today, the 'new' left is flourishing on Facebook and other social media, and in the sewers of talkback land. But we still don't have a central candidate to confront Netanyahu, because after all, we can block roads without any leadership.
The left's intellectual advantage has nothing to do with its media power, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likes to claim; it's because the left, particularly the non-Zionist left, tends to be an opposition, which doesn't do, but it thinks.
This thinking has led us, in different contexts, to be disrespectful of institutions, tradition and old ways of thinking. Even the conservative communist left sprung out of the belief that the old world had to be destroyed. That's also the reason why there's a need to constantly be reconstituting the left, whose prime Israeli characteristic is erasure of memory. The Israeli left has no historical self-knowledge.
Ever since the early 1960s, when the term began to emerge out of Britain, there have never ceased to be "new left" movements here (like Matzpen, a socialist, anti-Zionist organization, or Siach, whose name was an acronym for "New Israeli Left" ). Even the Hadash party, which is hard to describe, for better or worse, as the "new" left, maintains the "new" in its name (hadash, Hebrew for "new" ).
Today, the "new" left is flourishing on Facebook and other social media, and in the sewers of talkback land. En route, it rejects the old by blaming "symbolic capital," acting hostile to authority, using post-modern slogans translated into Hebrew from other environments (where they generally co-exist with the "old" left ), verbal violence (which they justify by pointing out violence everywhere ), and noting (justifiably ) the left's past failures.
From time to time some intellectual brilliance stands out among the young, who are unlikely to find work in the shrinking field of academe and are instead sharpening their brains and wit on posts and blogs, irony and parody, in addition to the sterile, politically correct repertoire - denunciations, boycotts and the inability to remain modest under the delirious power of the Internet, even though modesty is always required of anyone who joins something that already exists, rather than starts something new.
Their ability (political, literary, organizational ) to act is blunted, and when an activity actually takes place, the intellectual house of cards collapses because of its one-off character (with the exception of the truly courageous "old-style" activists, i.e., from a decade ago ).
And thus, the left's desire to have the "king's head" collapses again and again. The problem with this desire to decapitate is that since the king is undefeatable in the absence of continuous and ongoing activism, the desire becomes the most important thing and seeks out more accessible heads, who suddenly become "internal enemies."
Thus begins the rifts, another leftist hobby, the substitute for civil war. Here, too, the strugglers need rhetoric, rather than practical thinking; there are debates about evil, and not about ways to defeat it. What was, is invalid or unimportant, and what will be, is ours, thanks to our power - imaginary power, of course. And there's nothing like Facebook to nurture it. The passion for anti-authoritative power also gave birth to the slogan "without leaders," a kind of democratic envy. Symbols? Dead Moshe Silman - yes; symbols of evil - of course, but leaders, who are more effective symbols - no.
That's how Stav Shaffir, one of the more promising leaders of the social justice protest, has suddenly become an enemy of the "real" left, because she "sold out the revolution." In one fell swoop she became worthy of "denunciation"; that's how the most important demonstration against the economic decrees, which could have integrated all the demonstrators, with all their contradictions, deteriorated into two demonstrations in dispute. It could have been possible to go to one of the demonstrations, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid notwithstanding, dressed as an ultra-Orthodox man, for example, or an Arab, and hold up a sign saying "I am the Mizrahi other." But it didn't happen.
The right is at rest. The left is going through its cyclical purging process; once again the focus will be on "identity politics" that always leans on the ultimate victims, who point accusing figures in small, poisonous flocks.
But we still don't have a central candidate to confront Netanyahu, because after all, we can block roads without any leadership.
Anarchy? Not at all. Stabilization of the right-wing regime.