What Type of Right Do You Want?

Between most of the political parties in Israel there is only one party line, and it is a line of conservatism and pretending.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid congratulate Avigdor Lieberman after he swore in as Israel's Foreign Minister in Jerusalem, November 11, 2013.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid congratulate Avigdor Lieberman after he swore in as Israel's Foreign Minister in Jerusalem, November 11, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Israeli democracy is quite diverse. Like a top quality kitchen, it offers a rich menu for every taste and palate. Do you want the dish du jour, the moderate right? Benjamin Netanyahu. Today’s special, the right in disguise? Yair Lapid. Something with right wing roots and a deceptive aroma? Tzipi Livni. Right wing fresh from the oven? Moshe Kahlon. Strong, he-man right? Naftali Bennett. Racist right? Avigdor Lieberman. Gentle bubbly right? Isaac Herzog. Honorable right, with feminist and socialist touches? Shelly Yacimovich. Crazy right, religious right, settler right, messianic right, cruel right, inhumane right, psychotic right, right in disguise, bandaged right - just ask. A huge selection of types of right-wing; 50 shades of right, all of which are the same, unified color.

So which right do you want today? Except for that - we have almost nothing. From Labor through to the National Union in Habayit Hayehudi, there is almost only a single voice. From wall to wall, not a single stone will cry out. This strange phenomenon reached its peak during the period of the war in Gaza, but it is valid the rest of the time, as well.

The differences? Most are deceptive. The “chasm” between Labor and Likud? Please check. And what did Labor governments do that Likud governments did not? Wars and settlements, one time in this order and one time in the opposite order. They also divided between them the handful of diplomatic agreements they signed, some peace treaties and some agreements to perpetuate the occupation. Labor, Hatnuah and Yesh Atid, of course, support more photo opportunities with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while the Likud and those to its right object. But it’s not a very big difference, considering what has emerged from the peace process.

During the last war, for example, “opposition” leader Herzog was mostly worried about Israel’s relations with the United States. That is what the leader of the opposition spoke about at the height of one of the most brutal and cruel attacks by Israel; what he went from studio to studio saying. Lapid, like Herzog, just added his own dimension: he also boasted that we would “put an end” to Mohammed Dief. Livni only repeated “no” to Hamas. The rest of their colleagues stayed silent and the “center-left” cheered on the killing and destruction in all its terrifying dimensions. They made do with the blood that had been spilled, while the extremists wanted more; these are not differences of principle.

One may say that this single-opinion politics reflects public opinion. That the unity of the people and its uniformity are positive phenomena - but they are not. This depressing unity reflects intellectual paralysis and ideological stagnation. When was the last time a new idea was raised here, however small? An idea that has never before been uttered? Everything is turning upside down in our region, except for Israel’s policies: Its wars are revolve around preserving the status quo.

And what is the Israeli chorus asking for? That the occupation continue, the blockade be extended and that life in Israel be quiet. A second opnion, just like after visiting a doctor? Here there is no second opinion; there is barely a first opinion - and it is yesterday’s opinion.

Between most of the political parties in Israel there is only one party line, and it is a line of conservatism and pretending. The two-state solution, for example, is seemingly the view of the majority; most parties support it and no one has done anything to carry it out. The opposite is true; Israel - that of the right and of the center-left - has done everything to destroy it. The success was made a long time ago and two-state solution has died. Few applauded, even fewer acted; and the most important thing, no one offered an alternative idea, even when it was quite clear that the solution was no longer relevant.

This stagnation will give birth to a disaster; this single-mindedness forebodes tragedy. It is not just a case of losing one’s way, but of harm to democracy, too. And what exactly will we get in the elections if the Netanyahu government - the most right-wing in the history of Israel - falls? A government to the right of it, maybe similar. If once it was common to say “two Israelis, three opinions,” now, three Israelis barely hold one opinion - and it is very right-wing. What is even worse is that this opinion belongs to yesterday.

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