In Both Israel and the U.S., Negative Discourse Has Destroyed Left-wing Parties

Tzvia Greenfield
Tzvia Greenfield
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Bernie Sanders and supports, Las Vegas, February 15, 2020.
Bernie Sanders and supports, Las Vegas, February 15, 2020.Credit: Reuters/ SHANNON STAPLETON
Tzvia Greenfield
Tzvia Greenfield

Even now, when Israel’s fate depends on the upcoming election and when, under the cover of the title “head of a transition government” defendant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is liable to keep crushing Israeli society, it is important to direct our glance for a moment toward the United States and to draw conclusions from the astonishing spectacle of the Democratic Party splitting into two before our eyes.

There is a far-reaching similarity between what is happening there and the processes that have destroyed the left in Israel and have led to the establishment of the Kahol Lavan party.

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For years, most of those who voted for the Labor Party, and even for Meretz, have witnessed the gradual takeover of left-wing discourse by the radical, post-Zionist and anti-Zionist stream with alarm. With the emergence of Kahol Lavan, many have preferred to switch to this new party, which they see as liberal, secular, sane and still proud of its Jewish and Zionist identity. Those left behind are mere vestiges who are having trouble explaining to themselves the reasons for their failure.

A similar fate awaits the Democratic Party in the United States. There, too, the extreme left is taking control, and at the moment it looks as though most of its electorate has reservations about that fact and will not vote for Bernie Sanders (or even for Elizabeth Warren, who is gradually losing her chances of winning).

The moderate voters in the party lack a good candidate of their own at the moment. After Hillary Clinton’s failure four years ago, what remains for them now is a 78-year-old billionaire, an unknown senator from Minnesota and an inexperienced 38-year-old mayor. Even against the most maligned president in U.S. history, none of these candidates will be easy for moderates to vote for.

The bitter outcome is predictable: If the party chooses Sanders as its candidate, we can assume that a considerable proportion of Democratic voters – without whom it is impossible to win – will stay home, especially in centrist states like Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania. If the party compromises on a more moderate candidate, someone who does not represent the extreme left, Sanders voters will refrain from going to the polls.

Whatever the case, the Democratic Party will lose the presidential election, and the processes leading to its split and to creation of a new, alternative party – which will represent a liberal, secular and sane spirit but which refuses to surrender to the anti-American discourse of the extreme left – will get underway.

To judge based on the Israeli precedent (or that of the British, in the case of the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbin; or the Germans, regarding the Social Democratic Party), the future of the Democrats doesn’t look promising. The domination of negative discourse that scorns the values of centrist society has destroyed left-wing parties in most democratic societies and is now making way for the crude propaganda and destructive policies of the right.

The only way to fight this development is to not continue the trend of negative criticism, which led to the defeat and profound hatred of the left in the first place, but rather to strengthen the principal liberal forces that have replaced the left in order to defend civil sanity in Israel and worldwide.

In the case of Israel, we’re talking about Kahol Lavan. It is a mistake to attack this party, whether to serve the detritus of the left that has been left behind, or to protect the rights of Israeli Arab society. Any rift within the camp that aspires to affect change only serves Netanyahu and the right.

It is important for those who really want to prevent the destruction Netanyahu is bringing down upon this country every day to promote cooperation among all the opposition forces – not, God forbid, to pit Arab society and the Kahol Lavan electorate against one another. In the end we all have the same goal: To establish a sane and decent society.

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