In Israel's Labor Party, DNA Decides

Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat
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Labour Party leader Merav Michaeli.
Labour Party leader Merav Michaeli.Credit: GIL COHEN-MAGEN - AFP
Odeh Bisharat
Odeh Bisharat

During the Labor Party faction meeting, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev calmly whispered, as if citing an axiom: Democracy! Really, what kind of question was “should the Flag March be held?” Of course, the march would be held. Not only does democracy require it, Jerusalem isn’t a capital like the other capitals of the world; it’s our “eternal capital,” the honorable minister continued quietly. Because everyone knows that Washington is a “temporary capital” and Cairo is a “winter capital.”

The aim of these lofty words, “democracy” and “eternity,” was to validate what is known in Hebrew as rikud degalim (literally “flag dance”). It was an act of people commanded to rejoice; a joy mobilized to serve a dark ideology. The dance we witnessed in Jerusalem last week was the antithesis of a natural dance that erupts from within, like the debka or the dance of Zorba the Greek. The proof of this came when the dance gave way to the chant of “Death to the Arabs.” That’s when the guys finally let loose and looked their best; hatred flowed from their eyes and washed over the city squares.

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It’s interesting that exactly a week earlier, Bar-Law had supported the decision to cancel the Flag March. What changed during those seven fateful days? It’s simple; the man moved from the opposition to the coalition, and in the coalition the DNA of the Labor Party was once again expressed in all its power. It wasn’t just Bar-Lev; the DNA also went to the head of Merav Michaeli, the party’s promising leader. She congratulated Bar-Lev, strengthened his hand for his “responsible management” of the Flag Hate-March, and didn’t say a word about the abominable fascist scenes that swept “our eternal capital.”

And what’s absurd is that at the same time, the alternate prime minister, Yair Lapid, who is supposedly more nationalistic than she, sharply condemned the nauseating phenomena during the march. “The fact that there are extremist elements for whom the Israeli flag represents hatred and racism is disgusting and unforgiveable,” he tweeted. Michaeli chose to remain silent. Oh, the shame!

The Labor leaders don’t set the party’s path, it’s the DNA that’s decisive, and it’s a DNA of aggression, of operating dark mechanisms against the Arabs and appropriating their lands. It’s no coincidence that almost all the bloody milestones in the lives of Israel’s Arabs took place under variations of Labor’s rule – from the massacre at Kafr Qasem in 1956 to the six young men killed on Land Day in 1976 and the death of 13 people in October 2000 – though the latter is better termed a murder, since the Or Commission determined that during those clashes there was never any threat to the lives of the security forces.

Therefore, I call on all members of Labor to uproot their party’s DNA. Now’s your test. If the Labor Party wants to live, it must issue, at full volume, a demand to immediately revoke the shameful Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. If it supports its renewal, then it is no different from the Religious Zionism party of Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir. And I’m “speaking here to the neighbor so that the sister-in-law will hear,” i.e., Meretz.

Labor’s policy, which is built to please the far right, will only give the right more of an appetite. The political system works on balances. Everyone brings the 100 percent they believe in, and in the end compromises on around 50 percent. But in the “change” government this principle is fouled up: While its far-right component comes with the most nationalistic point of view, as if this were a Gush Emunim government, the “left” comes in shame, from the midpoint, as if only it is responsible for keeping this government together. This conduct is a recipe for an extremist diplomatic policy – even more extreme than that of the Netanyahu government.

The current government is based on a meeting of interests. The moment Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the political arena, every son will return to his mother. The right-wing members will return to the bosom of mother “right,” while the left-wing members will remain orphans, since mother “left” has lost her way.

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