Opinion |

Crying 'America' Is the Israeli Left's Favorite Excuse

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Smoke rises behind the West Bank outpost of Evyatar last week.
Smoke rises behind the West Bank outpost of Evyatar last week.Credit: Amir Levy
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Is there any difference still between the center-left and the right? Which of the two is more honest and fair? Take Evyatar, for instance. A despicable case of land theft. There’s already an outline for whitewashing the whole thing. The center-left “is opposed.” Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid wrote a “sharply-worded” letter to the prime minister. Labor’s Merav Michaeli joined in. The two heads of the camp are very opposed to leaving Evyatar standing. Because of the crime? Because of the immorality? Because of the strangling of any chance for peace?

Far from it. Because it will hurt relations with the United States. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Lapid. Michaeli: “Advancing Evyatar seriously harms relations with our closest allies and Israel’s strategic interests … Labor will continue to fight for Israel’s security interest.” Ah, there we go. Because of security.

If you don’t eat, we’ll call a policeman; mom, tell him; dad, tell him – as if we were kids. Now the center-left just wants to hide behind the grownups’ backs. All it can say is “America.” The only thing that bothers them is their international image. How lame. How pathetic. How hypocritical and slippery. Support Evyatar or oppose it, but tell the truth. You can’t have it both ways. You’re either for or against. Settlement or democracy. Rule of law or rule of force. Calling for the dismantling of Evyatar because of America is the most cowardly position to take.

A few days later it was Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s turn. Her racist citizenship law passed, another great achievement for the right. Lapid came to Shaked’s aid in getting the law approved, of course. Labor was in favor too. Shaked: “We don’t need to mince words, the law also has demographic reasons, to prevent a creeping right of return.” Right to the point, without hiding behind anyone’s back. Explicit racism, just as the interior minister has told us.

Jewish supremacy, the demographic threat, Arab Israelis as second-class citizens – they are forbidden to marry whomever they want and have a family in their own country, Jews are permitted. Only Jews. Another supremacist law for the books. “Yes, there is an infringement of basic human rights here, but it is proportionate,” Shaked says. She is the one who determines proportionality. Lapid supports it. Michaeli too.

Yair Lapid and Merav Michaeli in the Knesset in November.

Truthfully, the right deserves more respect. Its positions may be awful, but at least it is honest enough to express them unabashedly. The center-left is evasive and tries to obscure things. Both camps support one of the most blatant laws that define Israel as an apartheid state, no two ways about it. A law that discriminates between citizens is an undemocratic law, a society that legislates supremacist laws for one ethnic group at the expense of another is an apartheid society. The right says it outright, the left stammers it and deceives.

The intellectual differences between them are minuscule, the differences in honesty are substantial. The right is more honest, the center-left covers up. The right wants Jewish supremacy and says so without stuttering and without hiding behind anyone’s back. The left wants and doesn’t want, it wants to have it both ways, to feel good about itself and also to be nationalistic like the right. It will support the citizenship law, but only temporarily. It will oppose Evyatar, but only for its international implications. The center-left will never come out and say what its position really is, not because it’s hiding it, but because it doesn’t have one. What will this camp fight for, what will it refuse to concede over, regardless of America? No one knows, because the center-left itself doesn’t know.

In the choice between the two, the right is preferable. There are hardly any ideological differences, so at least we’ll know the truth, no matter how upsetting it is. Between Shaked, who without blinking an eye says we are racists and wants us to be racists, and Lapid and Michaeli who call for America to tell us what to do, the former is preferable. Between integrity and hypocrisy, integrity is better.

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