Opinion

The Israeli Left Should Learn From Trump

Contrary to the media propaganda against him, hated American president knows how to formulate new approaches that can change reality

File photo: Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay attends the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 29, 2019.
Moti Milrod

One niche party, which is likely to win four Knesset seats in the best case, has voiced reservations about uniting with another niche party that loathes it, and both of them are pretending that sticking with their own absurd agendas will prevent them from crashing into the wall. What can one say about this blindness on the part of Labor and Meretz? Seemingly smart people are going to their political deaths like sheep to the slaughter and hoping for the best.

They’re not even capable of bringing in key people who, for various reasons, currently have no fixed political base. On the contrary, in his unparalleled genius, Labor chairman Avi Gabbay has managed to sever his party from Tzipi Livni. And now everyone is watching, unable to tear their eyes away, as the political camp that built the State of Israel heads toward total collapse.

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Given the looming danger, there’s almost no point in seeking explanations for this implosion. Nevertheless, to enable a public debate over the key issues affecting our lives and find new solutions for them, it’s necessary to understand that the parties of the Zionist left, on which we’ve grown accustomed to relying in state affairs, have become fearful and lost their ability to act. This has happened under the influence of an entire cadre of thinkers and creative types, mostly from academia and the arts, who have lost faith in Israel’s ability to solve its problems, and even in its right to do so.

What began with the trauma of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995 reached the point of directly blaming Prime Minister Ehud Barak for the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000. And after 20 years in which leftists blamed Israel alone for the conflict with the Palestinians, while casting doubt on the country’s legitimacy, the disgusted masses have begun abandoning the leftist parties and flocking to centrist parties instead.

Since it’s unclear whether the two left-wing parties are capable of surviving at all, perhaps the time has come for a truly radical proposal – to learn something about renewal and daring from, of all people, Donald Trump, the hated president of the United States. Because contrary to the media propaganda against him, he knows how to formulate new approaches that are capable of changing reality.

For instance, Trump is advancing a fascinating change in America’s strategy of influence, from the use of military force to the revolutionary use of the country’s enormous economic power as its principal means of pressure. This is his policy today toward both Russia and China, not to mention North Korea and Iran, and even toward NATO (and the Palestinians).

Rather than withdrawing from the world, Trump is altering a 50-year-old militarist worldview and promoting America’s primacy via its economic might instead. And what could be better than a switch from a militarist outlook to economic capabilities?

Similarly, Trump is fighting to rehabilitate the manufacturing sector and to once again integrate material industries with the high-tech economy to ensure jobs throughout the country at which Americans can earn decent wages and live a dignified life. This is no longer a war against poverty over the minimum wage and freelance workers, nor is attention being paid any longer solely to the urban financial sector. Rather, this is a fundamental change that will enable a person to support himself through his work.

Also related to this is the understanding that the 21st century will be one of migration from poor countries to rich ones, along with learning lessons from what migration has done to the European Union. That is why Trump insists on fortifying America’s southern border, and also why he supports the opposition in Venezuela. His regional peace plan for the Middle East is part of this as well, but that deserves a separate discussion.

All these are examples of a conceptual revolution. One can agree or disagree with it. But if Trump and the Republicans are capable of thinking of it and putting it into practice, the Israeli left ought to be capable of reinventing itself as well.