Bringing Liberal Israelis Back Home

Four steps to make center-leftists strong and stop them from threatening to leave the country.

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
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Ben-Gurion International Airport
Ben-Gurion International AirportCredit: Airports Authority
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

In recent weeks, many people in the liberal-democratic camp have expressed concern that all hope is lost for a political reversal in this country — that all that remains is to pick up and leave.

This crisis should be seen in the context of political scientist Francis Fukuyama’s 1992 book “The End of History and the Last Man.” The liberal democrat views himself as having completed a historical evolution that achieves the ideal of human liberty; he only needs to wait until the laggards catch up, both at home and abroad.

Tired of waiting, liberal democrats gave up viewing the state as the fount of their identity; instead, they look elsewhere. Some seek a universal “we” and identify with an intellectual community. Others have opted for “I” over “we,” tending their own gardens in Israel’s flourishing high-tech industry.

These people have effectively abandoned the political arena, leaving it to their rivals. They have become accomplices in creating a political mutation — a nondemocratic democracy that, while still based on an electoral majority, has a nondemocratic outlook. Some of these people are expressing a yearning to leave, but in their hearts they left a long time ago.

The only outlet for a liberal democrat is to rejoin history by returning to the political. Instead of outsourcing his identity, he should insist on retrieving his sense of identity from the state. Only then will he be able to reflect his image back on it. So what to do?

First, you need money. The liberal-democratic bloc is sitting on vast financial reserves. These should be released to build a political opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

It can’t be that wealthy leftists feel they fulfill their political commitment merely by voting every election. Anyone with financial means who is serious about overturning the political system must dig into his pockets. Go learn from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson what political commitment is all about.

Second, the focus should be the two-state solution; a common electoral ticket should include all parties that share this goal. It’s unacceptable that centrist parties Yesh Atid and Hatnuah are part of a right-wing coalition. It’s unbearable that left-wing votes are wasted on small parties not bent on changing the government.

It’s unthinkable that the former head of the Labor Party dared present a platform that did not have the peace process as its main objective. The left wing in Israel has no justification for fighting other causes until the end of the oppression of the Palestinians. Go learn from the settlers what political commitment is all about.

Third, members of the parties espousing a two-state solution should learn how to unite behind a single leader. Internal battles must wait for the day after a diplomatic agreement is signed. Until then, the ranks should stay united. Go learn from Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman what political commitment is all about.

Fourth, we need to drop exclusionary politics. A bridge between secular and religious people must be built, as well as one between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, based on the existential need for a political solution to the conflict. In other words, we need ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which means paying all the required political prices.

Once liberal democrats take back their political tools, they’ll discover that the end of history is yet to come. They’ll discover what’s actually required of them: returning to Israel.

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