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There Is No Right or Left in Israel, Just Zionism and non-Zionism

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Merav Michaeli, Naftali Bennett and Nitzan Horowitz during a tour of Ben-Gurion International Airport, June.
Merav Michaeli, Naftali Bennett and Nitzan Horowitz during a tour of Ben-Gurion International Airport, June.Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Last week, Angela Merkel expressed her admiration for the sustainability of Israel’s new coalition. Haaretz columnist Carolina Landsmann wonders, on this site, whether we have a duplicitous government or one which has uncovered the greatest deception of all times. Journalist Ron Cahlili avers that the ideological right and Zionist left are one and the same. All of them touched upon the big story, the one of the cat that’s come out of the bag: There is no left or right in Israel. The only ideological division is between Zionists, including nearly everyone, and non-Zionists, numbering much fewer.

The chancellor can therefore put her mind at rest. No miracle occurred when the current government was formed and Germany has nothing to learn from it. There was no “political accident” here, as coined by the prime minister. It’s easy to sustain the present coalition since it’s a coalition of consensus, without great gaps among its components. Likud (minus Netanyahu) and the ultra-Orthodox could join a wall-to-wall coalition, representing a wall-to-wall society.

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This government will be remembered as one that exposed the great deception, even if inadvertently. It arose on the waves of the hatred felt towards Netanyahu, and it exists (and will continue to do so) on the basis of the underlying unity of its partners. If Merav Michaeli replaced Naftali Bennett tomorrow morning, no earthquake would occur. Other than a few changes in style, Israel would remain as it was.

The supposedly momentous tenure of the first national-religious prime minister is no harbinger of change. Not because Bennett has betrayed his ideology but because this situation concords amazingly well with the positions of the left-wing components of this government.

It’s not that the Zionist left is right-wing, or that the ideological right wing has leftist tendencies. And not all of them are opportunists, signifying the death of ideology. On the contrary, Israel has an ideology, and how! It is stronger than and overshadows all else. It’s called Zionism and it’s the reigning religion that unifies the nation. (Almost) everyone is a Zionist and everyone believes in Jewish supremacy in this country, including the territories it occupies.

Left and right are equal in their worship of the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet, whose role is the maintenance of the regime of Jewish supremacy by suppressing any opposition to it. When the incoming new chief of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, said that the security service is the bastion of democracy, he was right. Just like the Stasi, Bar’s role is to uphold the regime which, in the language of the Shin Bet and the people, is called a democracy, rather than a Jewish tyranny.

There is not one member of this coalition who is thinking of ending the occupation, who thinks differently about Iran – even the siege on Gaza is consensual. This applies to the IDF and the ongoing settlement enterprise as well. Therefore, there is nothing surprising about the silence of the lambs: in their inner hearts, everyone wants the occupation.

The differences are in the wrapping. The left wants to look better, which is why its representatives occasionally visit the Muqata Palestinian headquarters in Ramallah, possibly also raising a proposal in the Knesset regarding the pogroms in the West Bank. Not much more than that.

The present government ruffled the political map. From here on, we must state the truth: there are no real gaps among Zionists. The non-Zionists are few, almost all of them non-Jewish, all of them having no legitimacy. There are differences between Haredi and secular Jews, and gaps between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, but the clichés about a polarization in this nation are hollow and meaningless. The only abyss lies between proponents of Jewish supremacy and their opponents. That is why most of the country’s Arab citizens are not part of this game. That is why Israel is nearing its moment of truth. It relates to its basis as a Jewish state in a land with two peoples, exposing its true image in all its nakedness.

Who would have believed that a patently non-ideological government that is trying to flee from such news as from a fire would be the first government to expose the truth? And the truth is that there are not many countries in which ideology is still so critical; there are no democracies with a single tyrannical, dominant ideology. Israel is a Zionist state just as the Soviet Union was a Communist state. There too, there was no difficulty in cobbling together a government of moderate and extremist communists.

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