Slandering the Left

The Israeli left, with the exception of the Labor Party of Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, has always placed social woes and desires at the top of its agenda, and it has never stopped being concerned.

Perhaps psychiatrists know how to treat such a sick complex: How do you treat a Jew who justifies anti-Semitic slander against him? And how do you treat a leftist who accepts the stigma with which his enemies have branded him?

"We fought for peace," wrote a friend of mine this week, "and we didn't fight for social justice." That's how he blamed himself for a sin we didn't commit. Even a good man unwittingly becomes involved in slander. We are not to blame, and we didn't betray the confidence and the mission. The Israeli left, with the exception of the Labor Party of Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak, has always placed social woes and desires at the top of its agenda, and it has never stopped being concerned.

The left also dealt with the occupation - alone on the battlefield. It tried to save lives. Without life there is no justice and certainly no equality. Even the present protest will become rotten as long as we live under the occupation of the settlers, and Trojan horses circulate among the tents.

It's impossible to share the spoils equally, as long as the bear devours as much as he can, and governments are afraid to hunt him. And it's impossible to walk around in circles without falling into the black hole in the territories, which sucks in material and spiritual resources.

We were not counted among the "socially conscious," because we were, for the most part, incorrigible Ashkenazim (of Central European origin ), and we were unable to overcome this defect, as did the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who eventually turned into a Moroccan. Most of the time we lived in Tel Aviv, and the revolution will not begin from north Tel Aviv.

Who are we compared to the Shas ministers, who live among their own people dressed in Versace and wearing Borsalino hats. We cannot compete, and we will remove our trendy Italian shoes before them. Only now, and belatedly, has the big, hedonistic city been recognized as the capital of the uprising, and even leftists are allowed to feel at home in it.

When we had the chance, we arranged the national priorities differently putting the elites on the bottom and the bottom percentiles on the top, until the situation improved. Kiryat Shmona and Shlomi, Sderot and Kiryat Malakhi, Yeruham and Dimona, never knew better days than when Meretz was in the government. It was actually the right-wing local council heads who wept bitterly when we were forced to retire. Haim (Jumas ) Oron and Ran Cohen and I resigned and wept along with them. We knew what the future would bring, and it brought Benjamin Netanyahu and Limor Livnat.

Before the elections we received apologies. It's true, you leftists are better, but you're Arab lovers, and you're soft on terror, and we're dyed-in-the-wool Likudniks, and we can't vote for you.

How many times was I invited to appear on television to react to another terror attack. I came, I was interviewed, I tried to convince: We must not lose our cool when blood is being spilled and we are furious. And then I dared to ask: Why do you invite me only when people are blown up, and ignore our civic side? "Who's interested in that?" was the reply. And besides, nobody except you is willing to appear on a day like this and to say what you're saying. That is how our socially conscious voice was swallowed up in the security uproar, while the nationalist choir was singing in unison.

We were not perfect. We made mistakes, but we felt that we had done the right thing, and we have no regrets. To whom exactly should we apologize? Who is as sorry as we are - justifiably so - that only now are people beginning to internalize the connection between the welfare of the settlers and the problems of those in the tent camps; between generosity to the Haredim and tight-fistedness towards others.

And even now there is no guarantee that the change is sufficiently profound. One explosive in a bus or a cafe, is liable to send the new horses back to the old stables. Human beings are going up in flames, they will reprimand them, and you're asking for an apartment.