A Herd on the Left

Carolina Landsmann
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
A man at a protest against the Netanyahu-Gantz government in Tel Aviv on May 2, 2020.
Carolina Landsmann

Despite the fact that most Kahol Lavan voters are in favor of a unity government, the bon ton in leftist elites is to see the party’s leaders as spineless at best and as traitors at worst.

Leftist elites are behaving like a herd these days. Suffice it to see their response to anyone who offers a point of view that doesn’t align with the herd masters’ word (for example, Raviv Drucker who dared to defend Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli – Haaretz Hebrew edition, April 27).

Israel’s single-use coalition will serve Trump and protect Bibi

-- : --

Even so, I wouldn’t rush to declare that Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi forgot the mission which drove them to enter politics: Free Israel from Netanyahu. In fact, the aversion they arouse on the left on the one hand and the budding affection toward them on the right on the other hand are sure signs that they’re on the right path. In any case, nobody believed there were people on the left with the mental fortitude to do it.

It appears that Gantz and Ashkenazi understood the Likudniks were in a bind: They may see Bibi’s flaws, but if it’s either Bibi or giving the reins to the Tel Aviv leftists, they’d choose Bibi a million times. There’s no reason to suspect that Gantz and Ashkenazi have fallen in love with Netanyahu, but they don’t kowtow to the sated elite, nor are they fazed by its sanctimoniousness.

This is the same elite that can shudder over the fact that Bnei Brak residents don’t obey the coronavirus instructions while its own people hold a demonstration against the “coronacracy.”

In normal times the left elites are busy trying to crack the “Netanyahu phenomenon.” When they return to routine, they’d better remember the sense of safety he gave them when the pandemic was at its peak, and which was expressed as recognition that “we must admit he’s functioning OK.” Perhaps his supporters in Israel simply live with the feeling that they’re under an existential threat? Don’t forget what you felt when you thought humanity was coming to an end and consoled yourselves with Netanyahu’s authority, despite your rational hatred of him, because that is exactly the secret of his strength.

The herd tendency and knee-jerk reaction should frighten anyone who encounters them, even when we’re certain reality corroborates what everyone thinks. For example, on the face of it one can say that, in retrospect, the conduct of Gesher leader Orli Levi- Abekasis justified the mistrust in her. But isn’t that exactly what the rightists say about the Arabs and the chances of peace with them– that if Arafat looks like a terrorist and acts like a terrorist, then he’s a terrorist? And that whoever tried to make an agreement with him is an “Oslo criminal?”

Is Peretz – who believed Levi-Abekasis was a partner and wanted to build a bridge together between the left and the periphery – guilty of not understanding she hadn’t renounced her positions and that she was in fact planning to sabotage the bridge? Or was it the displays of those who objected to the union with Gesher that made Levi-Abekasis blow up the agreement?

Did Arafat want peace? Was Oslo a real attempt on the part of Rabin and Israel to reconcile with the Palestinians, or just a clever way to expand control over them? Does the end determine the beginning? Is it possible to speak of intentions without considering the results? There are different approaches to these profound questions, but they certainly depend on each person’s biases. Is it wrong to say, in a broad generalization, that the leftists believe the Palestinians and are suspicious of the Mizrahim?

The left elites don’t see themselves and behave as though they have no blind spots. There are those who suggest that from now on we remember that “if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s a duck.” That is true only if the one who says it remembers that he’s not Dr. Dolittle, in other words, that he, too, is just as much an object of generalization.