Opinion

For Israel’s Left It’s ‘Anyone but the Mizrahim’

Orli Levi-Abekasis and Amir Peretz announce their joint run, July 18, 2019.
Nir Keidar

Last week’s bottom line is that the motivation to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never been high enough to overcome the leftist ego and unite the left-wing parties – not in the April election or in the two months since the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and call another early election.

The energy of the “anyone but Bibi” movement was revealed as nothing but a Tel Aviv soap bubble. The motivation needed to trigger a political earthquake was provided by two people last week, and neither of them are named Netanyahu.

What years of Netanyahu’s corrupt and corrupting rule haven’t managed to create, Amir Peretz and Orli Levi-Abekasis achieved in just five days. Just five days were enough for the left-wing ego to step aside and join ranks. Anyone but Bibi? Liars! Anyone but Peretz and Levi-Abekasis.

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Of course, we’ll never know what would have happened if the Labor Party chairman and the Gesher chairwoman hadn’t decided that their parties would run on a joint ticket. We’ll never know if the motivation to oust Netanyahu would have convinced the key people on the left to “put aside their egos,” as they’ve been called on to do so many times, and unite under a large democratic slate headed by Peretz, Ehud Barak or Meretz chief Nitzan Horowitz. We can only guess.

What we do know is that all the attempts to merge Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, Labor and Meretz before the previous election failed, as they did after the election. But last week, once Peretz and Levi-Abekasis made clear they wouldn’t team up with Barak or Meretz, Labor’s Stav Shaffir and the former prime minister hooked up with Horowitz.

Democratic Union is how they crowned themselves – he who was unelected and she who lost the Labor Party’s leadership primary and left. On Facebook these three Ashkenazi-Jewish politicians – as opposed to Peretz and Levi-Abekasis who are Mizrahim with Moroccan roots – quickly gained a more appropriate name: “the European Union.”

The dybbuk that took hold over the left-wing camp can’t be called by anything but its rightful name. It was the ethnic genie in all its glory, or the “Ashkenazi genie” – as that moniker on social media conveys – that once again escaped from its bottle and drove the left-wing base crazy.

There are no gentle words to describe the emotional storm that attacked the left-wing camp. The frustration that accumulated over the long years of political impotence erupted like a volcano. Just like after the last election, when many people on the left wished rockets on the residents of the south who voted for Netanyahu, the racist sewage on social media overflowed its banks. And this time it was about Peretz and Levi-Abekasis joining forces.

It’s well known that poverty and despair are fertile ground for racism and violence. It turns out that a shortage of Knesset seats works exactly the same way as a shortage of food.

With one quick move Peretz became the scapegoat of the left. Years of talk about the need to turn to new groups were revealed as lies. It turns out that the left only wanted for “left-wing NGOs” to bring in Mizrahim on buses, for the Mizrahim to go to the polls in droves, drop the left-wing slip into the ballot box and then scurry back to their holes in the country’s outskirts.

How disrespectful do you have to be to hold such a reception for former Foreign Minister David Levy’s daughter? How much historical blindness is needed to miss the chance build the bridge (gesher) that Levi-Abekasis’ party volunteered to put up between the Mizrahim and the left, between the center of the country and the outskirts?

With great vulgarity, these leftists ignored the biographical distance she has walked from her childhood home to the Labor Party – the bastion of her father’s humiliation. And with great arrogance they dismissed her willingness to walk the march of shame from the right-wing camp to the defeated and “traitorous” left – her willingness to paint herself red and stand with the outcasts and those marked as traitors.

Instead of saluting her for her courage and accepting her with open arms, and then aiming for the next unification, they chose to humiliate themselves once again. They lost their minds. They didn’t flee a sinking ship, they sank it with their own hands.