Those Israeli Left-wing Purists
I can’t stand the thought that the Labor Party is headed by a man, Avi Gabbay, who says that he 'doesn’t deal with the rights of the Palestinians'
I am a left-wing purist. I can’t stand the thought that the Labor Party is headed by a man, Avi Gabbay, who says that he “doesn’t deal with the rights of the Palestinians.” (And who will deal with them? Avidgor Lieberman? Naftali Bennett? Maybe Marwan Barghouti, from prison?)
Someone who asks, maybe out of embarrassing ignorance, maybe out of pretended ignorance: “If you make peace, why do you need to evacuate settlements?” Who brags like the worst right-wing thug: “They fire one missile? You fire 20. That’s the only way they understand in the Middle East.”
Who bases the country’s existence on the divine promise to Abraham, who opposes evacuating “80,000 settlers,” as if this number will ever provide even a partially just solution. Who calls the Palestinians “Arabs” and says he has nothing in common with the Joint List Knesset faction.
I am a left-wing purist, the kind that those who see themselves as leftists love to attack. They aren’t purists. They are so practical and sober, realistic and pragmatic. They don’t like purists. They think Avi Gabbay is a worthy candidate who shouldn’t be criticized, because the goal of every non-purist leftist is to rid ourselves of Benjamin Netanyahu – and after him, the déluge.
I am a purist who thinks that the plagiarized version of Netanyahu isn’t preferable to the original, that the silence of cowardly Labor Party MKs in the face of their leader’s remarks is shameful, and that it only proves why there’s no need for their accursed party or for cursing their new leader. At least Yair Lapid gets filmed in boxing matches, even if they’re ridiculous.
I’m a left-wing purist who thinks you have to keep drawing people’s attention, over and over, until the end of time, to the elephant in the living room. Precisely because it’s so boring and annoying, so expected and unoriginal, so repetitious, just as the occupation is repetitious, annoying and expected. So-called leftists have tired a bit from dealing with it. They’re against it, but they know it’s not topical or attractive, not sexy, and, above all, not a vote-getter. The country is right-wing, so everyone tacks to the right. There are other things to deal with. The number of teachers’ assistants in kindergartens is more interesting.
But nothing is less of a vote-getter than impersonation. The only reason the Labor Party isn’t in power is because of its vacillating, because it hasn’t presented an alternative, and because it doesn’t have a single figure like Jeremy Corbyn to restore it. On our left wing, there are endless leftist charlatans and cowards, with their left-wing advisers telling them if they would only look to the center and imitate the right, ignore the occupation and Palestinian rights, they would without a doubt get elected, Isaac Herzog after Shelly Yacimovich, election after election. But the elections always end in tears.
It’s not a matter of purism. On the other hand, neither is it a matter of being left-wing. Sticking to one’s basic principles, the most basic that the left has, such as the idea that dealing with the occupation takes precedence over anything else, that it’s the most crucial, most decisive, most bothersome issue – that’s not purism. It’s essential realism, the height of political realism.
It’s actually those who are repressing and denying the issue who are not seeing things correctly, misleading themselves and others. They think that if they don’t deal with the sore, it will heal itself. But it won’t. Ever. And they won’t get elected either.
There’s the left wing and the right wing, and 50 shades of gray in between, which are also legitimate. What isn’t legitimate, however, is deceit. It doesn’t exist on the right. MK Bezalel Smotrich doesn’t deceive, and no one claims he is a right-wing purist. Even Netanyahu himself no longer engages in pretense.
In the face of their proud nationalism, all the left can say is something to the contrary. Gabbay talks right and delegitimizes left-wing positions by concealing them. In the process, he is sticking to his party’s most trusty path.
There is no left-winger who can remain silent over this, because if left-wing people remain silent, they’re saying Gabbay is right, we don’t need to deal with Palestinian rights, which also represent Israel’s moral image. Let’s transfer manufacturing to China, as Gabbay suggests. We’ll fire 20 missiles for every incoming rocket. We’ll build settlements that we’ll never evacuate and believe it’s our right because of the divine promise to Abraham. What’s important is for Gabbay to get elected, and all those purists can go explode.