Opinion

Ya’alon’s Place Is on the Left

Anyone who will do anything so that we don’t live by the sword forever, anyone acting to repair the injustices that were done here, must join the left

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, January 2017.
Rami Shllush

When Tzipi Livni set up her Hatnuah party in 2012, and Elazar Stern, then a shining general in the reserves, joined up, she gave him the freedom to vote as he saw fit on foreign affairs. Presumably she believed that when a peace agreement was on the table, even someone who once objected to the 1967 borders and land swaps would understand this historic opportunity.

So with improved security arrangements (because most senior defense officials are in favor of a peace plan), Stern wouldn’t object. This approach could be right for new Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay and his deputies. 

The political map can't be divided based on the current format. Under that format, one part of the public is for a greater Israel — a euphemism for objecting to a normalization of diplomatic relations with our neighbors and preferring to subordinate the sanctity of life to the patriarchs’ graves. The other part of the public wants peace.

But this division no longer holds, because some people, especially on the right, realize that chauvinist views can't be severed from hatred and schismatic thinking. Ask longtime moderates on the right like Dan Meridor and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Lucy Aharish’s television program this week, in which she interviewed Ya’alon, deepened my understanding that people in my group, Labor Party people, can't indulge themselves and expect their fellow members to be perfect. We don’t have the luxury of scrutinizing every word people say and expect them to be holier than thou. Not to mention that a person, let alone a public figure, is much bigger than one statement or another he once made.

So the public should be divided anew into the preservers’ camp versus the changers’ camp. All those interested in keeping the situation the way it is while still blaming Labor's predecessor Mapai for every ill should join the right wing.

These are people who want to preserve a society that has hit rock bottom in terms of divisiveness and the hatred between what President Reuven Rivlin calls “the tribes.” This society lives from one military offensive to another, while Israel deals with threats from Syria (despite years of sycophancy toward Russia, that country continues to vote against us in every forum). Supporters of this society want to preserve a situation in which the prime minister mumbles a feeble denunciation of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites because he’s afraid of Donald Trump and his supporters.

But anyone interested in changing things, offering hope, dealing with the issue of our miraculous existence in Israel, the land of our fathers, and understanding that Israel can't exist as a Jewish democracy without compromise should join the left. Anyone interested in being part of a group that consecrates the lives of its sons over patriarchs’ graves and who will do anything so that we don’t live by the sword forever, anyone capable of recognizing the injustices that were done here and acting to repair them must join the left.

Since declaring “just not Netanyahu” has become a kind of crime against the state, I’ll risk calling on Ya’alon to return to Labor, and on Labor’s leaders to do all they can to add him and people like him to our camp. After all, we can manage with ideology, but not with divisiveness and the crushing of Israel’s cornerstone institutions. This we cannot accept and must not delay changing, before it’s too late.