The far left must not hijack Israel's social protest
Time after time, people elected by Israeli center to represent the center have betrayed its trust; key and essential moves for change have been hijacked by a far-out group with a dogmatic agenda.
One of the ugly phenomena in Israeli politics is the hijack.
In 1977, the majority of traditional Mizrahis (Jews with origins in the Muslim countries ) wanted a nationalist-social change but the right hijacked the elected government and made Prime Minister Menachem Begin's regime the government of the settlers. In 1992 the moderate majority in Israel wanted a cautious diplomatic change but the left hijacked the elected government and made Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's regime into the Oslo government. In 1999, the enlightened majority in Israel wanted a civil-secular change but then Prime Minister Ehud Barak abandoned the old woman in the hospital corridor and made his government the Camp David government.
Time after time, the people elected by the Israeli center to represent the center have betrayed its trust. Time after time, key and essential moves for change have been hijacked by a far-out group with a dogmatic agenda. The Israeli majority has not managed to realize itself because its representatives have betrayed it.
The danger of a hijack is hovering over the protest movement. Three different forces are trying to hijack the airplane of social change and to land it in foreign destinations. One of these hijacking forces is old and familiar: Anyone but Bibi. Loathing of Benjamin Netanyahu is a profound and known phenomenon. Netanyahu is doing everything in his power to justify and fan this loathing. There is scope for direct and transparent action against his government. However, the social protest is too important for it to be boiled down to another putsch against Netanyahu. There already was one such putsch in 1999, by Barak's billionaires, media outlets and nonprofits. If all that happens as a result of the revolution of the summer of 2011 is that the free marketer Netanyahu is replaced by the tycoons' party Kadima, it would all have been a waste of time. And a waste of energy. A waste of a moment of Israeli grace that will be destroyed.
The second hijacking force is new but strong: Crucify the rich. Some of the very wealthy in Israel have too much power, too many loans and too many vassals. The Israeli pyramid of centralization must be dismantled. There must be an end to the culture of the golden calf. But the terrible guillotine on the boulevard was a warning sign. It warned that dark forces and dark impulses are liable to take over the justified protest and derail it. Hatred is always a disgusting phenomenon. Hatred of the wealthy for being wealthy is liable to have destructive effects. If all the protest does is to chase the wealth out of the country, it is a waste of time. And a waste of energy. A waste of a moment of Israeli grace that will be destroyed. The third hijacking force is the radical left. The Rothschild Boulevard protest was supposed to have represented first and foremost the middle class. It was supposed to have given a voice to the engineer from Shoham, the doctor from Tel Hashomer and the reserve officer from Kfar Sava, who are carrying the burden of making it through the month. These sane Israelis do not want red socialism. These industrious and patriotic Israelis are not subversives. Therefore, the leaders of the protest are betraying their trust when they surround themselves with post-Zionists from the Van Leer Institute and radicals of Sheikh Jarrah.
The movement that is demanding transparency and representativeness is not operating transparently and representatively. It is not known who is doing the funding, who is doing the organizing, who is pulling the strings. There is room in Israel for a strong Hadash party but Hadash is not the Israeli majority. If the protest is hijacked by the far left, it is a waste of time. And a waste of energy. A waste of a moment of Israeli grace that will be destroyed.
The moment really is a moment of grace. The opportunity is a once in a generation opportunity. But what is needed now is not Marxism and not populism and not hatred. What is needed now is practical action to transform the Israeli market into a free market and the Israeli state into a state of social justice. Therefore, it is necessary to let Emanuel Trajtenberg do his job. And not to get caught up in daydreams. The 2011 protest has succeeded because it has been nearly everyone's protest. The 2011 protest will continue to succeed only if it remains nearly everyone's protest. Friends, do not hijack it. Do not betray the Israeli majority and the Israeli center yet again. The obligation to be faithful to the people is also incumbent on the leaders of the protest.