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The Israeli Left’s Perfect Excuse to Be Feeble

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Labor's Merav Michaeli and Meretz's Nitzan Horowitz in the Knesset in 2013.
Labor's Merav Michaeli and Meretz's Nitzan Horowitz in the Knesset in 2013.Credit: Michal Fattal

I’ll begin by stating that this column isn’t going to end by saying that Benjamin Netanyahu would be preferable after all. Nor will it answer the question “So what do you propose?” I’m not proposing anything, and I don’t know what’s preferable.

But I do know that the government of change is way beyond “Anyone but Bibi.” I know that the connection between Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, between Tamar Zandberg and Ayelet Shaked, and between Nitzan Horowitz and Avigdor Lieberman is a lot more intimate than it seems at first glance. Maybe the sides thought they had said yes to the marriage of convenience whose aim boils down to the desire to “be rid of Netanyahu.”

This is also how the public related to the strange match: On one side is the former head of the Yesha Council of settlements, the proponent of transfer who hails from Nokdim in the West Bank, the model for a Jewish-fascism perfume and the architect of the Holot prison; on the other are opponents of the occupation, fighters for the Palestinians’ rights, women, the LGBTQ community and vegans. But the naturalness with which the sides are accepting the compromises that the supposedly political relationship has forced on them shows that there’s a love story here.

This is what Bennett said at the United Nations last week: “What started as a political accident can now turn into a purpose. And that purpose is unity.” Then he broke the unity down into actions: “Today we sit together, around one table. We speak to each other with respect, we act with decency, and we carry a message: Things can be different.”

He only forgot to mention that this entailed eliminating the core issues about which the people around the table disagree while perpetuating the rightist, occupying, settling, annexing and foreigner-persecuting status quo.

Incidentally, this is exactly what Bennett is offering the Palestinians: Everything we don’t agree on and have been fighting over for 100 years we’ll put aside and instead politely debate easing the checkpoints on Route 60. In short, two plans for calming two peoples: Palestinians and leftists.

The interesting thing is that it doesn’t look like the representatives of the left in the cabinet are having any trouble being calm. You can tell when someone is torn up inside. They aren’t. They’re happy to keep quiet. One of them is getting used to belated motherhood in New York, another is obsessing over the climate and the third is fighting the coronavirus – and all three are ignoring the Palestinians as if they had lost their sense of moral judgment.

How they would be screaming if Netanyahu had admitted, like Bennett, that the Palestinians don’t interest the Israelis, or in Bennett’s normal language: “Israelis don’t wake up in the morning thinking about the conflict. Israelis want to lead a good life, take care of our families, and build a better world for our children.”

This contrasts with the butchers in Iran who murder and gorge on cream cakes. After all, the pogromists from the settlements didn’t dip an apple in honey a few weeks ago on Rosh Hashanah and won’t stuff themselves with jelly doughnuts on Hanukkah. And the Israelis didn’t celebrate ecstatically with Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square while lots of Palestinians were being killed at the Gaza border fence.

And of course, not a word about Lapid – the father of the project to depoliticize Israeli politics. The truth must be admitted: All of them leapt at the opportunity to fill their mouths with water and keep them shut like someone who has found a great treasure. At long last they received the opportunity to stop fighting for what they supposedly believed in.

They were so thirsty from spending all those years in the desert of the opposition that they swallowed the water and asked for more. Bennett has given them the perfect excuse to “set aside” the positions and the values: keeping the coalition intact.

And the question arises: Did they believe in what they were fighting for? Or did they cease to believe in what had been automatically coming out of their mouths ever since the Oslo Accords or when Ehud Barak saw the light (when he discovered there was no partner) and spoke in a language made up entirely of dead letters. And has Bennett only buried what has long been dead?

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