Opinion |

When Gideon Levy Fell in Love With Ayelet Shaked

My colleague Gideon Levy prefers hard-line rightists to the left because they tell the truth; that is, they sincerely express dangerous sentiments popular among the people

Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht
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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks with fellow Habayit Hayehudi party member Bezalel Smotrich, March 2017.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks with fellow Habayit Hayehudi party member Bezalel Smotrich, March 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht

In his piece the other day, Gideon Levy thanked Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for telling the truth; Shaked had said Zionism would no longer bow to the Supreme Court. The minister is thus continuing her incitement campaign against the court, a campaign that is flourishing throughout the right wing.

A fragrance of true love exudes from Levy’s text to his honest, brave princess. His op-ed conveys a message of admiration among radicals who tell it straight on their way to wreaking havoc.

And havoc has been wreaked. What a riot. Apocalypse now. The court is being aggressively worn down, and soon the media will finally be tamed and fall silent. Racism is soaring to new heights with the leadership’s encouragement and corruption runs rampant, with no need for camouflage, for the simple reason that nobody is ashamed anymore.

All this joins the calamity of the occupation – indeed, a great calamity – which is the only thing Levy sees. Without solving this disaster, everything else can and should be destroyed, as far as he’s concerned. This includes, for example, his basic right to speak his mind about Israel, or just live here without being sent to a reeducation camp if he refuses to swear allegiance to Coalition Chairman David Bitan.

The damage in Levy’s alliance with people like Shaked is his view that what Shaked, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and their ilk are offering is Zionism. It’s not. It’s a sadistic distortion that interprets the justified defense of the Jews by establishing a national home as savage aggression outwardly (against the Palestinians) and inwardly (against the government's critics). Chaim Herzog was right to rip up the UN resolution stating that Zionism was a form of racism, because Zionism was the answer to racism, to the persecution of Jews worldwide and the very real danger to their existence.

Without playing down the Palestinian people’s tragedy in 1948, without excusing the Mapai party, Labor’s predecessor, for its historic mistakes, and without detracting from Likud’s role in nurturing the settlements and widening the Israeli divide, the disgraceful right wing that has grown in recent years is an entirely different matter. It isn’t a necessary evolution of Zionism or an honest demonstration of it, as Levy argues, but an expression of evil and dangerous impulses – part of a toxic global climate – that normal, decent leaders are obliged to restrain.

Levy prefers the leadership of Shaked, Miki Zohar and Bezalel Smotrich to the liberal Likudniks, certainly to the abominable Mapainiks, because they tell the truth; that is, they sincerely express sentiments popular among the people. Not to make a direct comparison, but Hitler also told the truth, expressing the secret desires of many Germans and non-Germans. Nor did he have any qualms about carrying these desires out. Was he better, in the test of history, than leaders of his time who showed restraint?

It’s hard to ignore the perfect tango performed by Shaked and Levy. She wants a greater Israel as part of the Jewish dominance fantasy enshrined in the Bible, and he wants a binational state as part of an exotic stroll in the fields of wild radicalism. She sees Jews as a master race with privileges and the Arabs as a thorn in our side, while he sees Jews as evil villains and Arabs as cute Tamagotchis with no historic responsibility for their predicament.

“Now, then, is the time for a new division, braver and more honest, between those Israelis who agree with Shaked’s statement and those who object to it. Between supporters of Zionism and supporters of justice. Between Zionists and the just. Shaked did not provide for a third option,” Levy sums up.

There are still a few seekers of justice in Israel who believe in the basic Zionist principle of Jews’ right to a national homeland in Israel while deeply abhorring Shaked’s statement. Neither she nor Gideon Levy will make them disappear.

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