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israeli left

  • What Israelis really mean when we talk about the Left

    It is a shameful lie to make opposition to 47-year military rule an issue of supporters or traitors of Israel. The war in Gaza yielded a large crop of articles about Liberal Zionism. Suddenly numerous authors felt an urgent need to reject, redefine, defend or deconstruct a term that the vast majority of Israelis have never heard of. However, Israelis are familiar with the same basic concept, except they call it the “Zionist Left,” or national left. They embrace the label “Zionism,” but unlike diaspora-based writers, don’t spend too much time trying to define it.  I can’t recall anything like…

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  • Dissent in Israel: On the margins, yes, in the mainstream, no

    Regarding the controversy over Mairav Zonszein's 'New York Times' op-ed: An ongoing climate of fear and suspicion is not conducive to ‘vibrant democracy.’ It is unfriendly to left-wing protest over security matters.    Since my colleague Mairav Zonszein published her ballbuster op-ed “How Israel Silences Dissent” in the New York Times several days ago, there’s been – what a surprise – a backlash. There was one substantive counterpoint to the article, though, by self-described leftist Noah Efron in Haaretz, who wrote that the instances mentioned by Zonszein of threats, sanctions and violence against opponents of the Gaza war also disturbed…

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  • Why does the Israeli left oppose MK Haneen Zoabi?

    The Zionist left doesn't oppose Zoabi because of her controversial comments or her participation in the Gaza flotilla. It opposes her because she calls for full equality. (Translated by Sol Salbe) Last week Haaretz columnist Ravit Hecht wrote that any true leftist ought to oppose Haneen Zoabi. True, Hecht did concede that the question "is not a legal question but a moral one"; that is, she recognizes Zoabi's right to continue serving in the Knesset (truly magnanimous of you, Ravit!). However, later on in the piece she falls squarely in line with all the right-wing accusations against Zoabi, from support for terrorism…

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  • Despite police ban, hundreds of anti-war demonstrators march in Tel Aviv

    The night the left took back the streets: Over 500 anti-war protesters brushed off arrests and police violence Saturday night to demonstrate against the assault on Gaza. By Leehee Rothschild Saturday night's demonstration in Tel Aviv was by far the most successful one held against the current assault on Gaza. With all due respect to those who were arrested last night, neither their arrests nor the police's brutality are the main story. Because for the first time since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, and after weeks of hiding behind police fences and fleeing hysterically from violent right-wing activists, the Israeli…

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  • Beyond protest: War and the Israeli Left

    This article first appeared in Dissent Magazine. Many Israelis who define themselves as “on the left” (about 20 percent of the population on a good day) support Operation Protective Edge. It’s a small and lonely subset that is both left wing and opposes the war. Over the last month, this little constituency has faithfully staged demonstrations of a few hundred—with last Saturday’s rally reaching somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000, by organizers’ estimates—and has written articles of protest. But the demonstrators tend to use such general slogans as “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” or “No, no, we won’t let…

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  • When the canons roar, the Israeli Left remains silent

    It appears not much has changed since Operation Cast Lead, when opposition leader Haim Oron tragically decided to support the military offensive. Rather than apologizing and giving evasive answers to the media, the Left, led by the failed opposition leader, should be standing up to yell 'enough!' By Elinor Davidov It took seven days of "Operation Brother's Keeper" for the leaders of the Israeli Left in the opposition to say, sofly, that there is a problem with the current military operation, with its goals and with its implementation. For the first time, a week of collective punishment, a closure on the…

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  • Reward activism and diplomacy, not violence

    Far too many times Israel has mocked peace initiatives and adored violence. Altogether, it seems that the government is about to score major points in the propaganda war, only that each such victory is another step on the path to defeat. As Israeli news outlets moved to live coverage mode over the weekend, I had a chance to speak with a friend who is involved in the politics of the mainstream Israeli left. He was enraged by the Palestinians, “who are again missing an opportunity.” At a time when Netanyahu is finally cornered, blamed for the failure of the peace…

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  • The Israeli Left's last novel

    A new best-selling novel by Nir Baram takes aim at the Israeli 'peace industry,' globalization and the sense of betrayal a generation of left wing and progressive operatives is leaving behind. I've wanted to write about Nir Baram’s new novel, World Shadow (The book is alternatively titled, "The World is a Rumor" in English), for several weeks. It’s a story of power, the battle for and against it, and the inevitable corruption of all causes in the late-capitalist world. The theme is common to many works of fiction these days, but the context is unique, and especially the novel’s criticism of…

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  • Stephen Hawking's message to Israeli elites: The occupation has a price

    By choosing to avoid the Presidential Conference - an annual meeting of Israeli generals, politicians and business elites with their international fans, Prof. Hawking reminds that the occupation cannot be forgotten or avoided. A response to Haaretz's Carlo Strenger. The British Guardian on Wednesday reported that Prof. Stephen Hawking has cancelled his appearance at the fifth Presidential Conference due to take place this June, in protest of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The report was later confirmed by Cambridge University. A spokeperson for the Jerusalem-based conference called Hawking’s decision “outrageous and improper." One of Haaretz’s leading lefty columnists, Carlo Strenger, wrote an open letter to Hawking echoing…

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  • Bibi can relax - the 'center-left' is really on the right

    The actual right-wing bloc looks set to win over 100 of the Knesset's 120 seats in Tuesday's election. There's only one reason to vote against it: the future.  "Right-wing bloc's majority slashed," read the headline over today's election poll in Haaretz. "The gap is closing," according to the poll in today's Yedioth Aharonoth. Both surveys showed the right-religious bloc getting 63 Knesset seats and the center-left-Arab bloc getting 57, and both showed the steadily weakening Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu down to 32. Even if it is still clear to everyone that Netanyahu will lead the next government, many people will likely gather…

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  • Everyone should condemn the horror in Syria, especially the left

    With the butchery of children and the massacre  of over 100 more civilians in one town alone, the Syrian government has reached a new peak in its gruesome list of achievements. For over a year, the world has witnessed people being slaughtered, day after day. These words will have little if any effect, and still they must be said: The actions of the Assad government, or any other forces involved in the unbearable killing of civilians is deplorable, contemptible, and inhuman. This is nothing short of a war crime and a crime against humanity. All of humanity. I say this…

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  • The utopian vision of 'security' is killing Israel

    Somewhere along the way, security for Israeli Jews became utopia: it will never be achieved, but it exacts an infinite price of destruction for its own sake, on the road to nowhere. Isaiah Berlin's seminal critique of utopia holds that no matter how noble the idea at hand, the assumption that one truth can be universal and overriding denies the reality of conflicting, but equally vital, human truths. We may believe all humans agree on the right to life and physical security. But we also cherish other human rights and freedoms, and sometimes these are in conflict. Acknowledging and struggling…

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  • J Street's opposition to Palestinian UN bid is a smart move

    My colleague Noam heavily castigated J Street’s announcement that it would oppose the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in a few weeks. He qualified this by saying that he isn’t entirely convinced of the statehood plan itself; but saw political and moral failings in J Street’s position nonetheless. I, on the other hand, am not convinced of J Street’s opposition, but I respect the logic and the legitimacy of the approach. My main reservations are emotional: the Palestinians need and deserve a state, with all the problems it will face, and I want the world to be swept…

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