Opinion |

Israeli Leftists, Apologizing for Your Beliefs Won't Spare You. Get Off the Defensive

Zehava Galon
Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israeli flags held at a protest against annexation of parts of the weest Bank, Tel Aviv, June 6, 2020
Palestinian and Israeli flags held at a protest against annexation of parts of the West Bank, Tel Aviv, June 6, 2020Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Zehava Galon

Apoplectic, gasping in horror, the Israeli right shuddered to its core: Look, Palestine Liberation Organization flags in the plaza. Hide your women.

It’s depressing to see good leftists already shrinking from another predictable round of hysteria. There’s no reason to do so. First, because it takes quite some chutzpah to assert that waving the Palestinian Authority flag amounts to support for terrorism, certainly from those who, for over a decade, never sought to halt the security coordination with the same PA. And if the right still hasn’t learned that the “PLO flag” is the flag of the Palestinian Authority, maybe they ought to stop and think about whether they’re sufficiently on top of things to undertake a move like annexing the territories. But mainly, because there is no way that leftists can ever pass the endless loyalty tests issued by the right.

LISTEN: Annexation vexation comes between Bibi and the settlersCredit: Haaretz

Look what happened to Polly Bronstein, whose appointment as CEO of Keren Hayesod – United Israel Appeal was crudely revoked just as she was set to take over the job. Likud officials collected her quotes as director of Darkenu and decided to send her on her way. Likud representatives deny this, of course, but one told Globes that it took a “special kind of gall to try to be so anti-Bibi and anti-Likud and then, after you failed to bring them down, to go to work under them.”

No question, Bronstein is talented, has proven executive ability and was qualified for the position. I can also just imagine how betrayed she must feel, particularly since, as director of Darkenu, she made sure that right-wingers also appeared at the Rabin memorial rallies, and even attempted to persuade Tamar Zandberg, when she was head of Meretz, to accept a deal: “Meretz will participate only if Ayelet Shaked or a top figure from the settler right also speaks.” Did any of this help Bronstein? Not in the least. When the moment of truth came, they came up with something she once said against Netanyahu. End of story.

Nor was Professor Rivka Carmi helped by her decision as president of Ben-Gurion University to cancel an award to be given to Breaking the Silence in 2016. Late last year Education Minister Rafi Peretz blocked Carmi’s appointment to the Council for Higher Education’s Planning and Budgets Committee. Why? Because a few years earlier, Carmi had spoken out against Ariel College being accredited as a university. She no longer opposes this, but it was too late. Everything is recorded and kept on file.

But why look at the liberals? Look at the dishrags from Yamina, who were ready to support corruption for Benjamin Netanyahu’s sake, and even to embrace the Kahanists for him. Where did it get them? Yair Netanyahu is already telling the world that they are New Israel Fund-loving leftists. And there is even proof: A video in which the NIF president explains that they also want to appeal to the knitted-kippa crowd.

And Yamina professes to be aghast at this, as if they themselves didn’t use the very same methods to depict leftists as traitors. Even Yinon Magal is not enough of a patriot at the moment, so I understand. He said something about Sara Netanyahu. It’s still unclear what will become of Shimon Riklin, but I’m sure he’ll manage somehow to get back in the emperor’s good graces.

Even if you say “Jewish left” instead of “Israeli left” because it sounds more patriotic, they’ll always have another loyalty test on the way. Because groveling, stammering and apologizing for what you believe in won’t spare you.

The right is ready to go on television, on radio, online, wherever necessary, to defend an apartheid plan, to defend billions being spent at a time of deep recession and to defend a corrupt prime minister. They’re ready to defend the most galling things, and you’re not ready to defend the truth? Try it sometime. Believe me, it’s easier.

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