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The Zionist Tango

Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, March 2017.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Ravit Hecht attributes a “fragrance of true love” for my “honest, brave princess,” Justice Minister Shaked, in her op-ed “When Gideon Levy fell in love with Ayelet Shaked.” Hecht knows my taste in women is slightly different than that, and that, despite what she writes, I don’t know how to dance the tango. But my appreciation for Shaked and her ilk is that they do not deceive: they openly acknowledge their nationalism and racism.

They don’t hide their belief that the Palestinians are an inferior people, indigenous inhabitants who will never gain the rights Jews have in the Land of Israel-Palestine; that no Palestinian state will ever be established here; that Israel will ultimately annex all of the occupied territories, as it already has done in practice; that the Jews are the Chosen People; that Zionism is in contradiction to human rights and superior to them; that dispossession is redemption; that biblical property rights are eternal; that there is no Palestinian people and no occupation; and that the current reality will last forever.

Many of these views are also held among the Zionist left, Hecht’s ideological camp. The only difference is that the Zionist left has never admitted it. It envelops its views in the glittering wrapping paper of peace talks, separation and hollow rhetoric about two states, words it has never really meant and has done precious little to realize.

That’s why I prefer Shaked. With her, what you see is what you get – racism. In its actions and deeds, the Zionist left has done everything to implement Shaked’s views, only in polished words and without acknowledgement. The Zionist left is embarrassed by things Shaked and her colleagues are not ashamed of. That doesn’t make the left any more moral or just. It has merely been quasi-Shaked in its actions.

The occupation was no less cruel under left-wing Israeli governments, which was the founding father of the settlement enterprise. Those princes of peace Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin established more settlements than Shaked and caused the deaths of more Arabs. The left has enthusiastically defended every military action Israel has carried out and every brutal act committed by the Israel Defense Forces. It hasn’t just sat silent in the face of such acts; it has been supportive. Always.

Operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge in Gaza (in 2008-09 and 2014, respectively) involved thousands of senseless deaths, and most of the Zionist left supported them. The majority of those on the left supported the siege on Gaza, the checkpoint executions, the nighttime abductions, the administrative detentions, the abuse, dispossession and oppression – the left remained silent throughout.

But the truth is that it’s not Shaked and it’s not the left. It’s Zionism. Havoc has been wreaked, as Hecht herself wrote. But instead of trying to repair the unstable foundations, all of Israel – and not only the right wing – has done everything to undermine them even further.

Yes, this involves the 1948 War of Independence, which has to be discussed even though it’s uncomfortable. The spirit of 1948 has never stopped blowing here and, in this respect, Shaked and Hecht are in the same boat. According to this view, there is only one people here that needs to be considered, only one victim, and it is entitled to do as much harm as it wishes to the other people. That is the essential evolution of Zionism.

It could and should have been rectified, without derogating the Jews’ right to a state. But the Zionist left has never done this. It has never acknowledged the Nakba suffered by the Palestinians, and never did anything to atone for its crimes. This never happened because the Zionist left believes in exactly what Shaked believes in.

It is true there are many other issues in which the right causes national disasters the left never would have created. But on the other side of the line lives a people that for the past 50 years – the past 100, actually – has been suffering and oppressed. Not a day goes by without horrible crimes being committed against it. We can’t say, “Be patient. We’re busy at the moment with the status of the Supreme Court.”

And on the truly crucial issue that overshadows all others, Shaked and Hecht are performing a perfect tango together, with a fragrance of true love exuding from them both – a Zionist tango.

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