The harshest, sharpest critique of Yossi Klein’s opinion piece in Haaretz last week ("Our Hypocritical Elite," Hebrew edition) should have been written by a prominent figure from the left, a respected journalist or perhaps a well-known academic. That, because the fundamentally shallow and hate-filled nature of Klein’s piece ought to raise questions on the scarcity of intellectual arguments within the left against the opposing camp. Perhaps it is this shortage that brought Klein to the edge of the abyss.
The Israeli left is in a long free fall with no obvious brake in sight. The hatred for and obsession with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, its main unifying factors, is no longer sufficient to hold down the fort. The peace that was never on the horizon has returned to its natural dimension and the leadership abroad, in the form of Barack Obama and the European left, are no longer there for support and a shoulder to cry on. As a result, the Zionist left is disappearing and the lunatic left fringe (see: Klein) is gathering strength.
That is all I have to say about the left’s part in the op-ed that “rocked” the country. What of the right’s part in it? The right responded to Klein’s insults in the appropriate manner: with rage. It would have been wrong to ignore his heap of accusations, but one cannot help wondering what was so surprising about his harsh words. Didn't you already know what Klein and his ilk think of the religious Zionists? Have you never heard a leftist accuse them of taking over the army, or gloat over settlers being turned out of their homes? Don’t you know that to Klein and company, it's not only kippa- or skirt-wearing Jews who are dangerous?
After all, every so often another danger arises from the right that stands to shake the foundations of the left's faith: One time it’s the right-wing and secular Ayelet Shaked, another time it’s the right-wing and gay Amir Ohana, this time it’s the religious Zionists, the salt of the earth. Today it’s them and tomorrow it will be a different group within the right.
Nevertheless, there is something about a kippa and a skirt that specifically bother Klein, since once again, there is no rational explanation for his claim that religious Zionists – despite having indeed reached positions of influence – can decide the future. Neither they nor anyone else on the right can, as the failures of the “dangerous” right demonstrate: It is so dangerous that it has not managed to defeat Hamas, permit Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, restore personal security to the residents of south Tel Aviv, evict Bedouin who squat illegally and deal with hunger-striking terrorists. Never mind the terrorists; they can’t even fight for a right-wing economy in a right-wing government.
Klein’s dangerous religious Zionists? Their finest young men fight Hamas on behalf of a right wing that cannot prevail, and afterward they are evicted from their homes because they are the only ones that the right knows how to fight. It turns out it’s easier to evacuate Jews from their homes than it is to evacuate an embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If only the religious Zionists were Palestinians, or scofflaw Bedouin. Then they could remain in their homes and also be the subject of loving op-eds by Klein.
The writer is head of the Blue & White human rights organization, an arm of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.