`And I’m a leftist’

No, you're not, because leftists don't prefer force over diplomacy and don't suppress speech.

Tomer Appelbaum

For those who claim that they aren’t racists, “But what can you do, you can’t talk to those animals”; for those who consider themselves moderate but accept the deaths of 2,000 Palestinians and 64 soldiers with equanimity; for those who are furious with Gideon Levy specifically because they are the “old left”; for those champions of democracy who believe that there is a time to demonstrate and a time to sit quietly and accept another ugly round of violence because “a democracy must protect itself”; — now, as this war draws to a close, it’s time to step up to a mirror and examine your reflection.

Are you really leftist? Are you really moderate? And are you sure you aren’t racist?

Because at the end of this so-called operation, like those that preceded it, Hamas continues to shoot from the Gaza wasteland at our brethren in the south despite “the fatal blow” it sustained. Because this war, like those that preceded it, proved that what can’t be achieved by force won’t be achieved by more force but only by diplomacy. So at the end of this round of barbaric violence, as the dust settles on Gaza’s ruins and the soldiers’ graves, look honestly at your reflection and discover who you were during this awful summer.

You, who weren’t able to accept the expression of a different opinion, outrageous and abominable as it may have been; you, who put millions of people in little ethnic and religious boxes based on the comments of politicians who only yesterday figured out that ISIS is not a frozen treat; you were willing to accept families and children being wiped out and the losses suffered by dozens of Israeli families, even though, after all that, we just reached the same tired and exhausted conclusion that there’s nothing to do but talk to the other side.

You, who in the name of facing reality were convinced that the disengagement dug tunnels under our bottoms, chose to ignore that the reality in Gaza — 50 percent unemployment, a gross domestic product among the lowest in the world (30 times lower than Israel’s), no manufacturing, no exports, and no hope — is a result of the Israeli blockade. The blockade that in the end strengthened Hamas and its tunnel economy and turned it into a partner for arrangements and agreements instead of the moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

You, who were horrified by the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir and were sickened by the thugs who sought out Arabs to beat them, aren’t able to accept an Arab artist who accepted funding from Israeli agencies to produce her film and registered it for the Venice Film Festival as a Palestinian film. You accused her patronizingly of “biting the hand that fed her.” You, who maintain a polite silence when senior government ministers incite and make racist remarks, insist that Haneen Zoabi be punished.

You are not leftists because leftists do not prefer force over a diplomatic solution. You are not leftists because leftists oppose any limits on freedom of expression. You aren’t leftists because leftists never stop seeking the moderate elements with whom to talk, even — or especially — when the national spokesmen continue to prattle that “there’s no one to talk to.” You are not moderate because you facilitate violence.

By slowly internalizing the extremist doctrine, disseminated by Hamas and the Israel right alike, that the Middle East conflict has no diplomatic solution; by submitting to the pessimistic visions and a violent reality in which life is cheap, you are paving the way for fascism in Israel.

And although in the current climate declaring oneself a leftist is a bold act that borders on irresponsible, you continue to whitewash the stains of apartheid in the territories and the racism and violence in Israel. “And I’m a leftist,” you write, as you sign off your posts and letters that include racist generalizations, dehumanizing expressions, and intolerance.

“And I’m a leftist” will adorn the signature on the death certificate of the Israeli left.