The Left Is Dying. Now What?

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Avi Gabbay, chairman of Israel's Labour Party, arrives to deliver a speech during a party conference in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 10, 2019.
Avi Gabbay, chairman of Israel's Labour Party, arrives to deliver a speech during a party conference in the coastal city of Tel Aviv on January 10, 2019. Credit: AFP

The situation of the left in Israel after the recent election is largely reminiscent of Dostoyevsky’s remarks about hell in “The Brothers Karamazov”: “I saw the shadow of a coachman who, with the shadow of a brush, was rubbing the shadow of a carriage.”

The left not only in Israel but almost everywhere in the democratic world has in effect expired. Its influence is now nearly nonexistent. Perhaps it’s hell but there’s no choice but to recognize the facts. If it’s still important to do a post mortem analysis about the left, then there are three main reasons for this:

One is that its remnants require some painful explanations of what happened and why, and it’s the responsibility of Haaretz, which is still a most important vehicle of expression for the Israeli left, to hold a serious discussion on the question of whether there’s any future for the left at all.

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The second reason is that activities ahead of U.S. elections in another year and a half provide us with a live laboratory, which makes it chillingly clear how the left in America is stricken with a suicidal syndrome, propelling it to jump straight to its death. Instead of pulling itself up by the bootstraps and reconnecting with reality, it worsens its enslavement to dialogue and slogans from an imaginary world, and scares away people who have to get up in the morning and feed their families.

The Democratic Party is still very strong and has an excellent chance of coming back to power. But its takeover by extreme ideologues, with the help of media lacking any credibility and which is still under ultra-liberal influence, ensures that the left will be smashed and Donald Trump will win again, like what has happened in Israel. If there are still some people out there who believe in the ideology of the left, they should help prevent this destructive process from taking place.

The third and most important reason to clarify the political failure of the left in Israel and the rest of the world, lies in he need to decide what to do and where we go from here, after parties long considered to be on the left have collapsed, along with their ideologies. Here we must differentiate between what the opposition can do against Benjamin Netanyahu as an autocrat whose state systems are afraid of confronting him, and the need for the left to analyze itself.

The first mission is mainly the job of Kahol Lavan, which won only one less Knesset seat than Likud, and accordingly it must directly face the attorney general and other state bodies with a demand to restore Israel to the channels of democracy. The second step is for the left to carry out, in its name and for its own sake.

There are of course other issues that must be dealt with that are as important as mourning the death of the left – such as, for example, the murderous attacks on the synagogues in Pittsburgh and Southern California, with the addition of The New York Times’ anti-Semitic cartoon last week and the ambivalent attitude of the British Labour Party leader toward Israel. There is apparently a substantive connection between the collapse of the left and the fact that parts of it have been dragged into old anti-Semitic expressions, including the doubts cast upon the right of the Jews to live as all nations do.

But in light of the facts, the order of the day is to find out exactly what future is in store for the left, and why. Perhaps a list of conferences could deal with this question without fear or delusions, and could clarify the issue and bring those still remaining on the left to a better understanding of their possible place in reality.

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