It's Time to Tear the Mask Off the Anti-nationalist Right

Only by turning the center-left into the new blue-white and denouncing the right as anti-nationalist will it be possible to generate a major upheaval.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton celebrates at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 28, 2016.
Jim Young, Reuters

Immediately after the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia a week ago, a senior American commentator said it was the most impressive Republican Convention ever. He was right.

This time, the Democrats said again and again throughout the colorful gathering, their party is the American party. It is the red-blue-white. It is Uncle Sam. It’s Washington and Jefferson and Hamilton. It’s unity. It’s the constitution and it’s the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It’s security and economy and hope. It’s the deep faith in American greatness.

Thus, Hillary Clinton’s Democrats did what Bill Clinton’s Democrats started doing in 1992. Will they succeed this time too? There’s no telling, but clearly their old-new message must be learned in Israel. Only by turning the center-left into the new blue-white and denouncing the right as anti-nationalist will it be possible to generate a major upheaval.

The Israeli right is playing into the hands of the Israeli democrats, because it has forgotten how to be nationalist. Can Likud and Habayit Hayehudi and their allies really portray themselves as nationalist? No. A real nationalist movement wouldn’t have revoked the core curriculum, as the anti-nationalist camp did this week. It wouldn’t spit in the face of American Jewry (Reform and Conservative), as the anti-nationalist camp has done in the last few months.

A real nationalist movement wouldn’t have stuck a knife into the heart of Israeli society and incited Mizrahim against Ashkenazim, as the anti-nationalist camp has done in the past year. And it wouldn’t have put to shame the state’s founders and their heritage, as the anti-nationalist camp has done in recent years.

A real nationalist movement wouldn’t have ranted and raved at entire sections of the nation, as the anti-nationalist camp has done in the last decade. Nor would it have undermined the state’s institutions and shredded the Declaration of Independence, as the anti-nationalist camp has done over the past generation.

A real nationalist movement wouldn’t have ground down the Jewish majority and the legitimacy of the Jewish state, as the anti-nationalist camp has done in the past half century. And it wouldn’t have jeopardized the Jewish democratic state’s very existence, as the anti-nationalist camp is doing day by day, week by week and year after year.

So the choice Israelis will be facing in the next elections is simple. Should they allow the people who speak for Herzl and Jabotinsky to pulverize Herzl and Jabotinsky’s core values and destroy their basic principles? Should the anti-nationalist camp be permitted to continue taking apart the Jewish people’s wondrous national achievement? Should those who are irrefutably anti-nationalist be allowed to continue to masquerade as nationalists, while their actions are anti-Zionist and destructive?

The answer could be found, in fact, in the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. If the Israeli left continues to wallow in bitter, sour, irrelevant radicalism – there’s no hope. The anti-nationalists will be able to continue to mislead most Israelis most of the time. If the Israeli center continues to be mediocre, gray and flat – there’s no future for it. No alternative power will rise to tear the mask off the anti-nationalists’ faces.

But if the Israeli center-left does what Bill Clinton did in the past and what Hillary Clinton is trying to do now, the sky’s the limit. By adopting Zionism anew and expressing faith in Israelis and Israeliness it will be possible to redeem Israel from domination of the anti-nationalists and return it to the real blue-white.