Opinion |

Israel’s Leaderless Left Turns to Netanyahu

Dear friends, if you’re bored, start building your own leadership and gather round it instead of stealing other leaders. Bibi is not a friend. He’s already taken

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the dedication of the Czech House, Jerusalem, Israel, November 27, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the dedication of the Czech House, Jerusalem, Israel, November 27, 2018.Credit: AFP
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

How much does the left like Benjamin Netanyahu? That’s a dilemma that seems to be dominating left-wing discourse these days. On all sides they’re looking for all the pluses of his period of leadership.

He’s praised for avoiding war, as though he really had a choice with his making it very clear what such a war would entail. It is pointed out how he didn’t make an effort to get the cultural loyalty bill passed, thereby delaying the vote.

Everyone looks at him with wonder for not having yet annexed the territories, for lining up Israel with some new Arab countries, for being a moderate right-winger.

They say you can’t blame him for the death of the peace process and that in fact he should be exempted from the “process,” for it’s not even certain that Yitzhak Rabin would have gone ahead with it.

In summary, the left does have a leader. He’s perhaps corrupt, extravagant, hates the media and is ready to destroy it, shoots every organization that tries to preserve some semblance of a defense of human rights, despises the Arab minority, keeps two million Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza, has a vision that begins and ends with competing with his rival from the far-right – but from the left’s standpoint, even this crow is a songbird.

Netanyahu is good for the left. He sharpens its senses, arouses ideological debates such as you never heard even at the height of the late Mapam party’s career. He makes the left sharpen its formulas and draw the boundaries of what’s up for debate. You may and you must love Netanyahu, they say, but on condition that we also mention his negative side. We shall embrace him as long as he admits to contributing to the incitement against Rabin. We shall admire him for avoiding war, but remind him of his crimes in Gaza.

The left had it so hard that it was compelled to choose between two dreamy options: Two states for two peoples or one state for a people and a half. Lucky that Netanyahu provides enough ammunition for both.

In one pocket he has the Bar-Ilan speech and in the other he hides his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He’s like an oracle whose word can be interpreted any way you like, he pits the fragments of the left against each other as though their decisions and outlook will change reality.

The left is looking for a leader, for it is pure and it’s not willing to compromise on a leader from within its own ranks. This one is too tall and the other talks too much, one is a mute who doesn’t explain his positions or exhibits the behavior of an involuntary erection. The other is a doormat and the third one we’ve already tried.

All of them, the left says, are only seeking to move closer to the right, to win over Netanyahu, to grab a chunk of the right-wing majority. They don’t deserve to lead the left. A real left shouldn’t be indecisive or try to move closer to the right. A real left falls in love with Netanyahu.

The left, of course, has no real dilemma. Will their love for Netanyahu mean they vote for him at the polls? Of course not. They’ll vote for Meretz, the Joint List, perhaps, and in the worst case for Zionist Union. A vote for Bibi would be like a vote for Miri Regev, or David Amsalem, Oren Hazan, the apartheid laws. How can you even imagine the left voting for Bibi? Ah, no? Then what has all this chatter been about these past few weeks, especially in our paper, over the image, personality and plans of the supreme leader?

The truth is that all this discussion is not really about Bibi but about the left, which has slid over like an amoeba from the Zionist left to the radical left, not just one cult but two, Trotskyists and Leninists, Sunnis and Shi’ites. You’d think we were talking about a huge overflowing community worth hundreds of Knesset seats. Dear friends, if you’re bored, start building your own leadership and gather round it instead of stealing other leaders. Bibi is not a friend. He’s already taken.

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