I read the article by Gideon Levy about the recent Labor Party convention with sorrow tinged with relief (“Labor demonstrates deception of highest order,” February 11). Sorrow that Levy, who once served as a moral compass, has become such a broken one: In every situation, regardless of the circumstances or reality, his compass points to the negative, points to despair, points to the irrelevant. And in every case, it points far beyond the borders of the sane and proper left. Yet I also felt relief, because when Levy is mocking me and my friends in the party leadership with his characteristic arrogance and disdain, it’s clear to us that we must have done something right.
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The ideological debate at the Labor Party convention on February 7 was something the likes of which has not been seen in any Israeli party for years – including ours. I worked and pushed for this debate for nigh-on two years. Journalists complain, rightly, about politicians who waste so much of their time wheeling and dealing. Yet here, an entire party – hundreds of activists and community leaders from all over the country – convene for a debate that has nothing to do with wheeler-dealing or party rules or camps, but focuses entirely on ideology and values. A debate from which the party emerges with concrete measures and a modern platform, one that proposes an initiative and alternative to the fear and hopelessness of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the right-wing camp.
And Levy’s response? Arrogance, disrespect and mockery. Perhaps he didn’t know what to make of it. Or he knew and consciously decided not to let the facts confuse him?
After all, for Levy, any diplomatic plan that is also based, heaven forbid, on concern over Israel’s security interests and preserving the Jewish majority in the country is fundamentally unacceptable. Even if its outcome in the long run is an end to the conflict and the establishment of a Palestinian state, as is written in black and white in our plan.
I sometimes get the feeling that Levy doesn’t really care about the Palestinians, whom for years he has been treating like naughty children who are exempt from responsibility for their actions. He cares only to subvert Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, and Israel’s security interests, in order to establish his image as a fighter for justice in the eyes of his admirers in the BDS movement.
Not here, Levy. The plan adopted by the Labor Party once again ratifies the party’s commitment to the two-state solution – and outlines a realistic way to achieve it, in a number of stages. The point is that, unlike Levy, we don’t have a magic switch that you flick and suddenly everything is fine. You flick it and suddenly, out of nothing, there are two states living side by side in peace! If Levy has such a magic switch, why doesn’t he activate it?
In our plan, our proposals included stopping construction in the settlements, dismantling illegal outposts, officially returning to the Arab Peace Initiative and creating a security separation between us and the Palestinians – including transferring control in these areas to the Palestinian Authority. What the hell is Levy’s problem with that?
The answer seems to be that, for him, a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is a denial of the main thing: the elimination of the Zionist idea, the de facto destruction of Israel, and the establishment of a binational state in its place that will have an Arab majority.
In the absence of any buyers for his defective goods, Levy has retreated to personal insults and cheap rhetorical tricks. Every activist is a “wheeler-dealer,” every statement a “deception” and every diplomatic initiative “absurd” or “ludicrous.” The apex was when – in a manner that wouldn’t shame the best propagandists in benighted countries – he described one of the Labor Party activists, as though inadvertently, as a “young skinhead.” And then, perhaps because he wasn’t satisfied with the implied comparison to neo-Nazis, Levy compared the party to North Korea, no less.
Gideon Levy has not been considered left-wing for a long time. Not my left, not the left to which I proudly belong. He has become a Trojan horse, who has infiltrated our camp in order to besmirch it from within and denigrate it in the eyes of the public. And, to my regret, sometimes he succeeds. During the last election, for example, he did great work for Netanyahu. My left and that of the Labor Party built this country, loves it with all its heart and wants to guarantee its future, security and welfare – not its destruction.
Levy and his friends are clandestine allies of the delusionary far right, his partners to the conspiracy of the binational state that will destroy the Zionist vision. We won’t let them succeed.
I’m proud to be secretary-general of the Labor Party, and hope for the day when the ruling party will also discuss values and spend hours dealing with a visionary proposal and plan to solve the conflict. It wouldn’t hurt Levy to participate in such a debate, either – even if it’s only with himself – instead of continuing to have pipe dreams. He should give it a try, it’s worth it.
The writer is a member of the Knesset and secretary-general of the Labor Party.