Opinion |

Making the Left Seem Worse Than Fascism

Attacks by the right have made many Jewish Israelis view the word ‘left’ as worse than ‘fascism’ or ‘racism.’ And in the end the Palestinians will pay

Amira Hass
Amira Hass
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Protesters block Tel Aviv's King George Street and demand greater efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians, May 15, 2018.
Protesters block Tel Aviv's King George Street and demand greater efforts to achieve peace with the Palestinians, May 15, 2018. Credit: Moti Milrod
Amira Hass
Amira Hass

The attacks on the left aren’t meant to undermine its existence as a political and ideological hostel for Jews. These attacks are just preparing the ground for a larger, more comprehensive move against the Palestinians – on both sides of the Green Line that divides Israel from the West Bank.

We can only guess what this move will be, based on what happened in 1948 and 1967 and on statements and hints by the nationalist, religious, messianic, capitalist camp, which is Israel’s strongest political camp and getting stronger. The move in question will be a mass expulsion of Palestinians, possibly comprised of smaller expulsions.

To accept this claim, one must be persuaded of Israel’s planning capabilities. Israelis who live on the west side of the Green Line find it hard to believe in these capabilities. After all, they encounter stupidity, negligence and Soviet-style bureaucracy at every turn. But the precision and foresight needed to create the suffocating Palestinian enclaves east of the Green Line and the impoverished, overcrowded Palestinian enclaves to the west attest to a multiyear plan that has involved people in the civil service, army and political system.

This led to organizations like the Habayit Hayehudi party, Amana, Elad, the Knesset’s subcommittee on settlement, Ad Kan and the Temple Mount Faithful becoming the spearhead of Jewish Israeli thought and action. These groups are certain that the Palestinians, in the best case, ought to thank us for even allowing them to remain here.

The Israeli left is a small, weak, confused creature with many faces, so full of internal contradictions as to be almost amorphous. And no, it doesn’t include the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties, or the putative party headed by the previous military chief of staff, Benny Gantz, which so far exists only in the polls. That isn’t because the latter are “privileged Ashkenazim,” but because they were and remain partners in earlier stages of evicting the Palestinians from their homeland and its land, political system and institutions.

Any left must be socially oriented, meaning it must strive to make workers more valued by society and do the same for services and activities that can’t be measured in monetary terms. Any left must demand an egalitarian allocation of resources that includes recognizing the historical marginalization of Jews from Arab and Muslim states by the Ashkenazi political establishment during the state’s early decades and demanding its rectification.

But no left-wing activism or consciousness is possible without understanding and acknowledging that the Palestinians are the main target of Israel’s demographic, economic, real-estate, spatial and political-engineering schemes. These are schemes from which every Israeli Jew still benefits, whether voluntarily or involuntarily.

The attacks – both verbal and physical, through police action and propaganda – have succeeded. They have made large sections of the Jewish Israeli public view the word “left” as even more loathsome than phenomena like fascism or racism.

The attacks haven’t affected the resolve of the brave men and women from organizations like Ta’ayush, Breaking the Silence, Machsom Watch, Anarchists Against the Wall, Mesarvot, Zochrot, Academia for Equality, the student affiliates and other branches and activists of the Hadash and Balad parties, and some Meretz party activists and members. These attacks haven’t made human rights groups, which for years have stuck spokes in the wheels of the occupation and dispossession, lower their profiles.

Still, the attacks have had a chilling effect. They silence people who aren’t comfortable with turning the Gaza Strip into a concentration camp where children die from polluted water; people who are repulsed by the atmosphere and laws that recall the not-so-distant past. Anyone preoccupied with the difficulty of earning a living will think twice before speaking out or joining protests for Israeli Bedouin villages’ right to water.

The venom of these attacks is meant to ensure that when the day comes, no Jews will lie down in front of the trucks and buses. The fact is, even today, only a handful of Jews are in the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar to protest its planned demolition.

Delegitimization is reducing the number of conscripts who refuse to serve the occupation. And it ensures that when the day comes, all those Jewish soldiers filled with ritual faith in the righteousness of their government will once again obey the order to destroy and expel the Palestinians, natives of this land.

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