Isaac Herzog’s Huge Camp Brought the Occupation Upon Us

After bequeathing the settlements to us, this 'pragmatic movement' wasted decades on 'peace talks' that were no less vacuous and insidious than Netanyahu’s 'peace process.'


Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy doesn’t need me to fight the arguments of opposition leader Isaac Herzog. Between the lines of Bougie's responses to Levy, one could discern great pride in the achievements of the “huge camp” that he and his party belong to.

This is how Herzog puts it in response to Levy's "one-state solution" last week: "In our national history there have always been messianics, and opposite stood the pragmatic people of my movement who knew how to sift through the practical solutions." There is much selective amnesia in this strangely proud statement, and one is duty-bound to put things straight.

Herzog’s “huge camp” brought the occupation upon us. Not Benjamin Netanyahu or Naftali Bennett. This is the camp that insisted on occupying East Jerusalem, “uniting” it with great ease and burying forever any hopes for the city’s sanity.

Herzog’s “pragmatic movement” also wrought the “settlement initiative.” Without its enthusiastic support for this calamity, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook and his people would have remained a passing episode. They invented the “enlightened occupation” and the “settlement blocs,” delayed the chance for a peace deal with Egypt, denied the existence of the Palestinian people and maintained ties with tyrants around the world.

From their ranks the list of “pragmatists” is long. There's Israel Galili, the prophet of expanding settlements and the town of Yamit in Sinai. There's Moshe Dayan, who coined the phrase “Better Sharm el-Sheikh without peace than peace without Sharm el-Sheikh.” There's Yigal Allon, the father of the Allon Plan that's still stuck like a blood clot in the brain of this “huge camp.”

There's Golda Meir, the mother of all gridlock, sanctimony and the disaster of the Yom Kippur War. There's Shimon Peres, the first to bring that wonderful toy to the Middle East. And there's Ehud Barak — is there any need to list the damage wrought by this “pragmatist”?

After bequeathing the occupation and settlements to us, this “pragmatic movement” wasted decades on “peace talks” that were no less vacuous and insidious than Netanyahu’s “peace process.”

But why dwell only on post-1967 events? We could reminisce all the way back to 1948, to the first years and original sins. The “huge camp” — though not on its own — generated the Nakba of expulsion and dispossession, and only a complete fool believes that the Nakba was a calamity only for the Palestinians and not for us all.

The “huge camp” relinquished, for narrow coalition considerations, the idea of writing a constitution, and for the same reasons failed to separate state from religion. Bougie’s pragmatists imposed a military government on Israeli citizens, legislated laws for confiscating the property of "absentees," and deepened the discrimination against the Arab population.

They, not the current "Civil Administration” in the West Bank, invented the ugly deception of “state lands” and "live-fire zones” to take possession of land that did not belong to them, giving it to whomever they wanted. This is only a partial list.

Bougie's camp likes to say it established the state. There is much truth to this statement. But this camp destroyed the state's character. The right's brute and fundamentalist ultranationalism wasn't the one to embark on this destruction. Bibi-Bennett are only following in the footsteps of the “huge camp” — along with its foolishness, arrogance and short-sightedness.

Therefore, on all relevant issues, the only difference between the “huge camp” led by the shuffling Herzog and the delusional right wing led by Netanyahu is the sound track. The plot is the same. A little more modesty wouldn’t hurt.