Isaac Herzog Responds: Gideon Levy’s One-state Solution Is No Vision of Hope

Haaretz's Levy is a generic name for an ideology that Israelis mistakenly classify as left-wing. After all, the right wing also wants one state, writes the opposition leader.

Isaac Herzog
Isaac Herzog
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Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, left, and Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, right.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, left, and Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy, right.Credit: Ofer Vaknin, Tomer Appelbaum
Isaac Herzog
Isaac Herzog

This is the second time I’ve sat down to craft a response to Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy. What for, they tell me. It’s an in-house feud.

But I believe that this is an argument our camp must have in order to define the lines. People like Gideon Levy actually belongs to the opposite side. Even if Levy will never admit it, there’s very little difference between him and the housing and construction minister, Uri Ariel.

Levy writes very well, as in his piece here this week. The question is whether he writes to the point. After all, Levy isn’t a word wizard or a one-trick pony. Levy is a generic name for an ideology that Israelis mistakenly classify as left-wing.

In fact, in his article, Levy suggests that we turn out the lights on the Zionist project. Based on his response to my op-ed on him a few days earlier, he apparently doesn’t believe in the UN Partition Plan, in UN resolutions 242 or 338, in the Declaration of Independence or in the Green Line. Levy believes in one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — a state with an Arab majority, as in all the countries surrounding us.

He doesn’t want to throw us into the sea. He wants the Jewish minority between the Jordan and the sea to be swallowed up by the Arab majority, so that after 67 years we turn the lights out on the state.

Levy explains how, unlike me, he has changed his mind many times in his life. After he started out with the functional option, flitted past the Jordanian option, supported the Oslo Accords and two states, he’s now parked at the last stop. End the occupation. One state between the Jordan and the sea. One man, one vote — one for Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh and one for Gideon Levy, and may the best man win, or the majority.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. He shares a dream with Israel's messianic right.Credit: AP

And if the Islamic State decided to run for the parliament of Isra-stan, then what? One man, one vote? Why not? If we’re talking democracy, then democracy all the way, no?

That doesn’t sound like a captivating idea or vision that sparks the imagination. It’s the dream of the messianic right wing and Haniyeh.

In our national history there have always been messianics, and opposite stood the pragmatic people of my movement who knew how to sift through the practical solutions. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do now. That’s the goal I’m obligated to seek courageously. Yes, courageously — even in the face of major obstacles and threats.

Levy doesn’t have to join Habayit Hayehudi. He can easily skip over the party headed by Naftali Bennett and land straight in the lap of Uri Ariel’s Tekuma. Ariel wants the same thing — one state from the Jordan to the sea and one man, one vote, and may the best man win.

For the huge camp that I head (yes, Levy, I’m writing this for the third time) to be the Israeli alternative, it must offer hope and security to the Jewish state and the Palestinian people. Security and security and an agreement. And though it tarry, it will come — because we have no other future.

And today there is a window of opportunity for an agreement, both regional and vis-a-vis the Palestinians, that must not be missed. It’s an opportunity not only for negotiations, but for a real agreement that will bring security for Israelis.

To this end we must draw on all our people’s inner strength and reach a painful decision that will preserve our future as the nation-state of the Jewish people. We must not be dragged into despair.

What Gideon Levy proposes is not hope. Which sane Israeli would choose to live in a state with an Arab majority? And so what Levy is selling is fear. But for fear we don’t need Levy. For that we have the master of fear. His name is Benjamin Netanyahu.

MK Isaac Herzog is the opposition leader and chairman of the Zionist Union faction.

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