Opinion |

In Israel, There's No Left. There's Only a Right in Different Forms

The sad and unbelievable joke about the break-up of the Zionist Union faction: Israel fancies this a rift on the left

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Labor chief Avi Gabbay and Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni.
Labor chief Avi Gabbay and Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni.Credit: Emil Salman
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Two days ago, there was another rift in the Israeli right: The Zionist Union faction split apart. The two main right-wingers, Tzipi Livni and Avi Gabbay, Likud traitors both, dissolved their partnership.

The sad and unbelievable joke: Israel fancies this a rift on the left; as if there are seriously two camps in Israel, left and right, locked in fierce battle over the face of the nation. There is no left, not even half a left. There is only a right, in different forms.

What is going on in our political system ahead of the upcoming election can be described like this: Right A versus Right B, a split in Right C, a possible merger in Right D, and a new glimmer of hope in Right E.

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Meretz and the Joint List, the only Israeli left there is, one small and fading and the other ostracized and excluded, and both without any influence, look on from the other side of the fence. And still people say that Israel is “polarized,” that we’re this close to civil war breaking out. It’s hard to think of anything more ridiculous.

Most leaders of Israeli political parties are former Likudniks: Livni, Gabbay, Avigdor Lieberman, Ayelet Shaked, Naftali Bennett, Moshe Ya’alon and Moshe Kahlon. Orli Levi-Abekasis also grew up in a Likud household. Right, center, supposed left – they all came out of the Likud. And that’s no surprise – the right was their home and it remains their home.

This is the Likud’s real victory since the 1977 upheaval – its amazing takeover of the entire map, the way it continues to spread its tentacles in every direction.

And by its side, of course, you find the settlers and the Haredim who became a nationalist right, and then you have Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, who are also nationalist right – one has already proved himself to be so and the other will soon do the same; both are imposters. Lapid and Gantz enable the racists of Ramat Hasharon and the like to stick to their nationalism while feeling themselves to be enlightened; to vote for the positions of Habayit Hayehudi wrapped in shiny cellophane.

And to think that all of them could have just been in the Likud. One party for Israel. A one-party regime, like in Cuba, Iran and North Korea, but voluntarily, out of choice. The image of the “only democracy” is false not just because of the apartheid; there is no genuine multiparty system among the privileged Jews either. Parties run toward the same goal under different names. They all believe in the same thing. A Red Army Chorus.

Who opposed the nation-state bill, the watershed moment of the last Knesset? Livni’s Kadima sponsored it back in the 18th Knesset, Gabbay made noises about canceling it, Lapid said he supported “the nation-state bill of the Jewish people” only in another formula, and all the rest supported it. Differences? None to speak of. And all the more so regarding the occupation.

All of the parties, except for two, say practically the same thing, think exactly the same thing and act in the same way to perpetuate it. When it comes down to it, after all the verbal contortions, after all the pretty words and not so pretty words, they are all in favor of its continuation. Very much in favor.

The same 50 shades of right exist both inside and outside the Likud. So why the big masquerade ball? If Israeli politics were genuine, they’d all have to compete in the Likud primary, which would be the Israeli election. Lapid doesn’t fit the Likud? How? With his racism? His laughable militarism? Gabbay? Livni? Levy-Abekasis? Shaked? Ya’alon? Gantz, too, commander of Operation Protective Edge, will also feel more at home in Likud than in Meretz.

In the face of all this, no one stands up to shout that the emperor has no clothes. Our politics are disabled. It is missing a vital organ. It has no left. No one has the boldness to propose something else. Even if it looks hopeless – and it could end in temporary political suicide – in the long term there is no other way for those who purport to be the opposition and the alternative. Meanwhile we have only spineless imposters. If it’s the right that people want, then why not stick with the original?

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