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To win, the Israeli left needs to learn from Bibi

Like Netanyahu, who harped on Iran, ISIS, and the Arab citizens voting in droves, the left has a bunch of fears that it can stoke and channel in its favor. All it needs to take its gloves off and go down to business.

By Elie Podeh

A campaign billboard for Netanyahu’s Likud switches to a billboard for Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A campaign billboard for Netanyahu’s Likud switches to a billboard for Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Camp. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The Knesset election results have put the left on the defensive. It has since had to explain why it lost, and the blame was placed on the usual suspects: An ineffective campaign, a lack of charismatic leadership, abandoning peripheral and low-income populations, demographic trends in Israeli society, and more.

The truth of the matter is that the left has been on the defensive since 1977, when the right rose to power. In the first years of independence, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion famously said he would consider any coalition “without Herut and Maki,” effectively demarcating the boundaries of political legitimacy – without Menachem Begin’s Revisionist right on the one hand, and without the radical Left in the form of the Israeli Communist Party, on the other. Years later, when Likud appropriated the term “national camp,” it was similarly meant to delegitimize their political rivals as not sufficiently “national.”

The importance attached to branding was reflected in the Labor Party’s decision, before the last election, to change its name to “the Zionist Union.” It didn’t signal an ideological change, but rather a response to the right, by way of saying: we are Zionists, too. This apologetic step, however, backfired. Not only did it alienate Arab voters, it was also seen as another act of groveling before the nationalist right.

The main error of the Zionist Union was its equivocation on key policies. Evidently, the use of non-radical messaging was meant to attract centrist and right-of-center voters. This pattern was particularly evident in the Zionist Union’s cryptic positions on the Palestinian question.

Another mistake was their inability, or unwillingness, to address the Israeli public’s genuine fears. Benjamin Netanyahu was able to cultivate concerns over Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS and Arab Israelis voting en masse for anti-Zionist parties. The equally ominous danger presented by a failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was nearly absent from the Zionist Union’s campaign, even though Hamas and the Palestinian Authority weren’t among Netanyahu’s bogeymen.

Yet, the prospect of a third intifada breaking out against the backdrop of a political deadlock is real; the risk of diplomatic, economic and academic boycotts by the international community is not imaginary; Israel is already perceived by many as a pariah state, and the use of the term “apartheid” to describe the occupation is gaining traction in the world.

In the absence of a bona fide peace process, the Israeli government must prepare for a multinational diplomatic onslaught, which will hurt the country’s economy and invalidate its legitimacy. This is the real concern that should bother Israelis. None of it was emphasized in the campaign.

It would be wrong to continue groveling and apologizing for positions that are supposedly not “nationalist” enough.  The left needs to move beyond its customarily conciliatory, civil dialogue and adopt a pugnacious discourse. The principal goal should be to highlight the inherent dangers of continuing with the status quo.

Most strikingly, past and present kingpins of the defense establishment (as was illustrated in the documentary film “The Gatekeepers”) support a far-reaching Israeli initiative, whether based on the Arab Peace Initiative, the Clinton Parameters, the Geneva Initiative, or a combination of those. And yet, despite the enormous influence of the senior Israeli defense establishment, its position is totally disregarded on this issue.

The explanation for this is probably more emotional than rational. Research shows that people do not rush to change their positions; however, the bombardment (again, a term taken from military discourse) of contradictory information over time will lead to a change in attitudes.

Only this could convince Israelis that indeed they have someone to talk to on the Palestinian side; that there are moderate elements in the Arab world who wish to end the conflict; that a political solution will remove the fear of ostracism and international isolation, and will allow fair and equal distribution of resources, which will be reallocated from the settlements to the periphery.

These messages are not obvious. If 70 percent of Israelis, according to polls, have never heard of the Arab Peace Initiative, then there is a fundamental flaw in the dissemination of information to the public.

In conclusion, what the left should adopt is “aggressive direct dialogue.” “Let’s talk dugri [frankly],” Netanyahu memorably told Mahmoud Abbas from the United Nations speaker’s podium in 2011. Judging from Netanyahu’s behavior at the time, this request was far from honest. But the left should speak “dugri,” because this is a language that the Israelis understand.

And if the “dugri” language includes references to existential fears, as Prof. Gad Yair of the Hebrew University shows in his book The Code of Israeliness, it will not fall on deaf ears. Some will argue that the adoption of a militant discourse is play into the hands of the right; however, when survival is at stake, the end sometimes justifies the means.

This is one of the lessons to draw from the last elections. While simultaneously adopting an aggressive direct dialogue, the left, in the broadest sense, should close ranks. Factionalism, based on personal as well as ideological differences, has always divided the left.

Despite the election results, the last word has yet to be said in the struggle for ending the occupation and reaching a solution based on a two-state paradigm. Anyone who believes that a change in the status quo is desperately needed to stop the ostensibly inevitable march toward a one-state reality, must join in the struggle. No doubt it will be a long journey, but this should not deter those believing that this is the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Professor Podeh teaches in the Department of Islam and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He is a Board Member at Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. The article was originally published in Hebrew in Ha’aretz.

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    1. Pedro X

      What the left needs to learn is that a two state solution does not mean an end of the conflict. Many Palestinians think that the establishment of a Palestinian state is only the first step in taking over all of Israel and making it an Arab state. This is why Palestinians so strongly resist acknowledging Israel as a Jewish state. It would mean having to give up territorial claims over all Israel and having to give up the alleged right of return. Palestinians are not prepared to give up their claims, even if a two state solution was agreed.

      If the left was to learn that there is no solution to the conflict at the present, then it could focus on matters which matter to Israelis, jobs, the economy and security.

      Reply to Comment
      • David T.

        A quite pathetic assumption trying to deflect from the fact what Zionists planned and did since the beginning regarding the belligerent take over of Palestine and its transformation into a Jewish state. The PLO has recognized Israel long ago while Israel never recognized Palestine or even the Palestinian’s right to self determination and only envisions Palestinian bantustans. Its current goverment doesn’t even recognize a two state solution.

        Israel has not only illegally annexed Jerusalem an the Golan Hights and every other part of Palestine beyond the borders in which it declared statehood, but it also didn’t automatically transfer its nationality to everyone habitually residing within its legitimate or phatasized borders as described in resolution 181, chapter 3.1 and instead committed the crime of mass disposession ethning cleansing directly or by not allowing people to return which is just another violation of human right law and solely based on heritage.

        It’s immoral and racist to acknowledge a state which is not a state of all its citizens and even differentiates between nationals and citizens as Germany pre 1945. But you do not care if the victims of such a racist policy are not Jewish and even support it, if it is implemented by Jews.

        You will never explain using universal moral values, why Jews all over the world who claim to be direct decendents of ancient Hebrews should have a higher moral right to ‘return’ than proven descendents of last century’s citizens of pre48 Palestine who actually and legally lived there.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Jello

      1) The Left has been throwing around its apocalyptic nonsense for a long time now. A brief perusal of the op-eds and stories in any daily issue of the Hebrew Haaretz makes that entirely self-evident. That includes stories about imminent diplomatic tsunamis, possible intifadas, academic and economic boycotts and every other possible fear the Left wants to stoke. It is also entirely obvious that the focus of such scare tactics changes over time, where now the focus is on diplomatic tsunamis (Obama is angry and the like) and European boycotts while previously it was consistently focused on demographic arguments. This has not, to the best of my knowledge, led Israeli Jews to vote for the Left or the far Left.

      2) The Left can hardly expect to coalesce public opinion around undertaking massive risks on the basis of implausible plans by increasing the level of fear and uncertainty among Israeli citizens. In such an atmosphere people cling far more strongly to the status quo and seek strong leaders to protect them. Those leaders simply do not exist at the moment on the Israeli Left. I recently glanced at the electoral list for the Zionist Union and I wouldn’t trust anyone on that list to be responsible for the security of a mall. I don’t know where the security people are that embrace every risky plan the Americans push forward, but they definitely did not run in the last election in the Zionist Union or Meretz. The closest thing to a person on any of lists of the “Left” that I might consider trusting with running the security of Israel is Yaakov Peri and he is in Yesh Atid.

      3) The Left can bombard Israelis with scaremongering all day every day and still we would come back to the underlying problem that the Left can not solve. Israelis do not trust the Palestinians in any way and with good reason. For every Abu Mazen there is a Khaled Meshaal and it is far from clear which one of them would be running whatever statelet the Palestinians form. And even Abu Mazen most Israelis do not trust because even he can’t quite seem to come around to explicitly embracing an outcome of two states for two peoples. Likewise the ‘moderate’ Arab countries led by the Islamist fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia are not exactly seen as trustworthy and also with good reason.

      4) It would be very difficult to embrace this ‘external fear’ strategy without legitimate and politically effective accusations that the Left has embraced the anti-Israeli views of those at the forefront of pursuing the delegitimization of Israel. It would be hard to convince Israelis that they should embrace risky strategies because the anti-Semites (as they will certainly be called and many actually are) don’t like Israel.

      I think it would be damn near impossible to base an activist political campaign on a platform of fear, uncertainty and doubt. You can certainly frighten people away from doing something and into minimizing risks, especially security risks. Whether you can frighten people into taking bold security risks is in my mind an extremely questionable proposition. Whatever bag of fears the Left rolls out as a risk of inaction will be easily countered. The Left would be forced into arguing that the fear of a resolution at the UNSC should outweigh the fear of a bus blowing up with your kids on it. I do not believe that this approach can work.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      This is why that cute, tame puppy dog “Fig Leaf” I mean Herzog who is quite content with the settlements is totally the wrong guy. He’s Israeli royalty who cares only about his career and his own social class. He’ll sell out just for a foreign minister post. We can already see him begging and panting despite his public protestations. Just like Livni. Hollow. Yes. Pugnaciousness. Stop groveling and apologizing. Learn from Bennet and Shaked. Shaked, who likes to call Palestinian old women and children “snakes” and “the enemy” to be transferred or killed. And never apologizes. Regev, who called black people cancer among us and then apologized–to cancer victims. These awful people never apologize. Israelis will never respect the left until it comes out punching. The left has to match the roughness of Israeli society. Eight or so former shin bet Chiefs will back you. The arguments above by the extreme right are mainly just a cover for their real project: Greater Israel. The Gatekeepers know what they’re talking about.

      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        No job yet, Brian…..eh…”Ben”? Oh boy….! At least try to make some effort in finding a job by actually looking for a job. I am certain that the time you spend on Jewish sites rambling and ranting lies and spewing pure sewage about Jews and Israel won’t leave you any extra time to find a paid job and start providing for yourself instead of depending on food-stamps provided to you by the United States government with my tax dollars. I have rarely come across a foreigner who is as obsessed with Israel and Jews as you are, Brian. shouldn’t you be worrying more about yourself first and then your own country, etc. before Israel? What happened to you; where is this fixation on- and obsession with Jews and Israel coming from, Brian…..eh…. “Ben”?

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          Big Cat: I find I can agree with you on something. I totally agree that Americans should be worrying about and acting upon the needs of its own people and country, and not the needs of Israel. I agree with you that Americans should keep the money we toss to Israel for our own needs. For roads, public schools, pensions. I totally agree Israel should be second or third to our own needs.

          Reply to Comment
    4. hernan k

      Interesting to read in an “alternative” media an article that contains all the common places of the liberal “left” and Zionist left. Im jewish, Israel is not my State and it will never will. I consider it a reactionary state, proto fascist and one of the strongest manaces to security for jews around the world
      Till the israelis, that consider themselves leftist will not engage in class politics and internationalist feelings, the israeli ruling class will continue to foster a war among poor. This situation is perfect also for the arab elites, including the palestinian, that lives from the privileges that the occupation gives them to oppress their own people.
      To see the “jewish state” as a champion of reaction, fascism and all the decance and violence of this rotting civilization will only endanger jews around the world. We will fight against this enemies among our own people with all the strenght and means.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ginger Eis

      Well, excuuuuse me, Mr. Elie Podeh (!), but this article is internally inconsistent, factually inaccurate and reflects a sense that the Left doesn’t get it and probably won’t get it and is desperate.

      1. The truth of the matter is that for several years now, leftist Jewish Israelis, their political NGOs and members both in and outside Israel: Btselem, “Peace” Now, +972mag, “Breaking the silence”, Haaretz, Zochrot, ICHAD, and ten of others, have been instrumental in falsely labeling the State Of Israel an “apartheid and racist state” and accusing it of genocide and other war crimes in foreign media and in foreign countries in exchange for hundreds of thousands of Euros per annum.

      2. The truth of the matter is also that for several years now aforementioned leftists have been traveling around the world organizing “lectures” and “conferences” in which they (a) smear and demonize the Jewish State and the IDF with falsehoods, (b) venomously lobby foreign governments, Churches, international entities, trade unions, universities, etc, to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel. Those Jewish elements are equally responsible for (c) supplying foreign countries with classified personal details of IDF-Officers and (d) calling for the trial of IDF-soldiers by the ICC.

      3. Indeed, the traitorous sins of the Israeli Left are many and fresh in the minds of Israelis. The author is correct when he states as follows: “(…). Another mistake was their [the left’s] inability, or unwillingness, to address the Israeli public’s genuine fears. Benjamin Netanyahu was able to cultivate concerns over Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS and Arab Israelis voting en masse for anti-Zionist parties”.

      4. The author contradicts himself when the claimed as follows: “(…), the Israeli government must prepare for a multinational diplomatic onslaught, which will hurt the country’s economy and invalidate its legitimacy. This is the real concern that should bother Israelis. None of it was emphasized in the campaign”.

      Right there the author once again proves that the Israeli Left is an anti-democratic fascist movement that won’t accept the result of the electoral process, but will instead lobby foreign governments to subvert the Will of the People of Israel in order to impose the Will of a leftist fringe. This is not even remotely an election winning strategy. Another rude awakening awaits the author.

      (this is a re-post. and I will continue to re-post until +972mag quits blocking my posts)

      Reply to Comment
      • Pedro X

        You are not the only one to have your posts censored. There is a lot of censorship here on 972mag. 972mag’s policy says each individual blogger has control over what gets censored and what is allowed to be posted. That is why it is so hard to get posts through in response to certain bloggers.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Regarding delays and “censoring” of posts: A common complaint on the right is that +972 censors their posts for ideological reasons. Invariably the agitated poster then finds his post shows up later, at variable intervals. Note: ALL of us experience seemingly random delays in our posts and occasionally they just never appear. Mine too. Here’s why it seems random: because it is. I have no way of knowing for sure of course but I suspect things operate at two levels, one computerized and one human. I think the magazine might run a program that lets through posts with random delays so as to calm down agitated posters, put a brake on things, prevent posting wars. Then I think that some posts might be randomly selected for human review, or based on inflammatory words routinely screened for. The humans then look at the diverted posts at fitful irregular intervals. Or sometimes just never get around to it. Human error and better things to do. And then, finally, the +972 authors vary markedly in the offensive jackass posting they tolerate. (For example Lisa Goldman I noticed took down a post telling me I sound like I want to have sexual relations with Ayman Odeh.) Some are laissez faire, others don’t tolerate it. Add those multiple layers in interaction and it looks like arbitrary “censoring” to some.

          Having said that, I sometimes wonder why +972 does not bother to censor jackass posts asking me if I’m doing sex acts with men on “grindr” or whatever (somebody’s got an obsession with men having sex with men around here and it ain’t me) or use the foulest language, often flagrantly misogynistic, racist, etc. We all know the few jackasses involved who try to cheapen this place on purpose or try to intimidate. But then I think +972 probably tries but the jackasses are too repetitious. So we censor that asininity ourselves by just ignoring it.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Bruce Gould

      Well, here I am, looking at the latest polls conducted by Khalil Shikaki at his Policy and Survey Research Center.

      http://www.pcpsr.org/en/node/605

      “More than two thirds support launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip if the siege and blockade continue.”

      This doesn’t seem like a call for the destruction of the Jewish People, it seems like a reasonable opinion to me. But I haven’t looked at all the polls – can someone direct me?

      Reply to Comment
      • Jello

        Scroll down in that article. There is a pdf icon that lets you get the full document. Enjoy.

        Question 71 has always been the most interesting to me – Palestinian support for attacks on Israeli civilians inside Israel – at 55% at present. A majority among Palestinians explicitly support murdering Israeli civilians.

        Reply to Comment
        • andrew r

          And the Zionist mission of a Jewish state has a vested interest in targeting civilians. Most of its supporters aren’t honest about it.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Jello and others here constantly imply that violence by Palestinians magically negates their grievances and negates Israel’s responsibility (without ever acknowledging the violence perpetrated upon Palestinians by Israelis).

          Peter Beinart argues otherwise. Some main points below. The article is open to all:

          “…Illegitimate means do not erase legitimate grievances.

          …Why can’t Israeli leaders condemn Palestinian violence without using that violence to excuse Israel’s unjust and undemocratic control of the West Bank?

          … denying people basic rights doesn’t become OK because some people respond to that denial in violent, even grotesque ways

          …not all Palestinian violence is aimed at eliminating Israel.

          … More fundamentally, the fact that people use violence…still doesn’t delegitimize the grievances underlying it.”

          http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.655331

          Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            I do not negate their grievences. I point out that Israeli security measures and fears are legitimate on the basis of the fact that there is overwhelming support for the wanton murder of Israeli civilians among the Palestinians. That most certainly includes the legitimate security concerns that would result from any ‘solution’ proposed by the Palestinians or their supporters. The question of whether a Palestinian state created within the context of a society that believes that murdering Israeli civilians is legitimate would become a major security problem is an entirely legitimate one and no amount of browbeating about Palestinian grievances changes that. The primary obligation and responsibility of the Israeli government is to defend its citizens and not to the Palestinians or their grievances, legitimate as they may be. If the Israeli Left proposes ‘solutions’ that would intuitively put Israeli civilians at risk it would be hard, if not impossible, for the Israeli Left to find much support among Israelis. That does not negate the need for finding solutions, but it does force those that propose solutions to the Israeli public to realistically address the valid security concerns of the Israeli public.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            Peter Beinart does not live here. For him the question of rockets hitting Tel Aviv is academic. For me and all those that live in Israel it is not.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            It’s a fake issue. Abu Mazen has cooperated on security in a way praised by the Shin Bet. You could have excellent security cooperation and excellent security living side by side with a Palestinian state. Plenty of Israeli security experts agree. You and your allies on the right push the idea that only you know what’s what security wise but you are not the only Israelis who know what’s what. With constant fear mongering however you can keep the settlements going. And you can insist on some version of this nonsensical equation: “When they formally submit to recognizing an etheocratic Jewish state then we’ll know no one will fire rockets at Tel Aviv.” A. Fake. Issue.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            Abu Mazen cooperates on security on the basis of the idea that it is the best thing for the Palestinians to do to achieve their vague objectives. In this case Abu Mazen believes that maintaining security cooperation is the best way to achieve international pressure on Israel to make concessions. That cooperation and the lack thereof that led to the Second Intifada are tactics used by the Palestinian leadership in pursuit of their goals. If the Palestinians accept that the goal of negotiations is two states for two peoples living in peace next to each other then certainly a fruitful and productive security cooperation is possible because ensuring such an outcome becomes the basis of governance. Short of that the Palestinian authorities will have no legitimacy in the future in their state to prevent other groups from pursuing their “legitimate grievances” against Israel. This lack of legitimacy stems from an unresolved question of the ultimate goals of the Palestinian National Movement that is expressed by the various groups within the Palestinian elite that continue to insist that the ultimate goal is the elimination of Israel. It is also expressed by the unwillingness of the Palestinians to embrace the formulation of “two states for two peoples”.

            As for Israeli ‘security experts’.. You can throw a rock in Tel Aviv on a Wednesday afternoon in a supermarket and hit a retired security expert. There were ‘security experts’ that insisted that the withdrawal from the Palestinian cities in the West Bank would not pose a security threat as long as security cooperation with the Palestinians was maintained and that it was unthinkable that such cooperation would be rescinded. That assumption was fundamentally and painfully wrong. There were other ‘security experts’ that insisted that the withdrawal from Gaza would not increase the risk of rockets and missiles flying from Gaza as long as the PA was in charge and that Hamas could not take power there. That assumption too was fundamentally and painfully wrong. Since then we, Israelis, have become rather skeptical when ‘security experts’ talk to us about the possible consequences of risky strategic moves and with good reasons.

            No, my insistence on the Palestinians accepting the formula of “two states for two peoples” does not ensure future Israeli security. However, lacking such a formula the idea that security would follow is laughable and renewed conflict is almost certainly assured. Such a formulation as the basis of a solution is a sine qua non for any possibility of fruitful future security cooperation with the Palestinian state because it potentially legitimizes and formalizes such security cooperation. The alternative is that security cooperation will be rescinded in the future in response to demands within Palestinian society for additional concessions driven by the numerous issues that will continue to be deemed ‘legitimate grievances’ within Palestinian society.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            — “Abu Mazen cooperates on security on the basis of the idea that it is the best thing for the Palestinians to do to achieve their…objectives.”

            You expected him to do this for Israel’s objectives?

            — “the goal of negotiations is two states for two peoples living in peace next to each other”

            What does “for two peoples” mean? You know of course that the Palestinians think this would be formally consigning every Arab Israeli to permanent second class status. They see plenty of the Israeli elite hell bent on making this happen and plenty of ordinary Israelis backing that elite. Two states for two peoples used to suffice as an agreed solution but has failed because each side is suspicious of the other’s intentions. The Palestinians hew to the phrase “two states for two nations.” However, all of this becomes strangely academic because both the settlers and the Palestinians closely familiar with the reality on the ground are well aware that with every passing day what’s happening in the territories is rendering partition of the land ever less feasible.

            — “No, my insistence on the Palestinians accepting the formula of “two states for two peoples” does not ensure future Israeli security.”

            This is the heart of the matter. It not only does not ensure it, it is a non sequitur regarding security and a simplistic formula that tries to say that the state west of the green line is more or less exclusively “for the Jews” and a “Jewish State” rather than a “permanent Jewish homeland but a state for all its citizens, not all of whom are Jewish.” These nuances matter. Decisively. And the only practical way to ensure that that permanent Jewish homeland stays permanently Jewish-majority is to accept a two state solution with these nuances. It’s a question of perspective and we attach different relative values and significance to these nuances and so this debate will be endless. What is not endless however is how long the situation can fester without de facto apartheid and its consequences swamping every nuance.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            I am suspicious of the Palestinians. They are suspicious of me. That is fine. This is why you enter negotiations on the basis of a clear and explicit framework that assures both sides. Otherwise these suspicions only grow and the wiggling room that is left open brings out the crazies that play on them within domestic politics. So, on the Palestinian side we would get someone who claims he accepts a two state outcome but rejects the idea that the other State would be a Jewish State and insists that the new Palestinian State must support all those fighting against the Jewish State until all “legitimate grievances” are resolved. Without having the principle of two states for two peoples anchored in an agreement there is little that a Palestinian leader could or would say against such a position. Over time (actually rather quickly) this leads to a massive deterioration in bilateral relations and almost certainly to conflict. Bibi put forward a formula of the two states for two peoples that guarantees the equal rights of Arab Israelis. The Palestinians have rejected such a formula.

            The settlers and many Palestinians have a different desired outcome. I believe their views are academic because there is minimal support for their more extreme positions outside of the realm of symbolism. Yes the settlers are pioneers and are brave and the land belongs to the Jews and all that but there is no support for annexing the West Bank, granting citizenship to the Arabs there, or patrolling the Casbah of Nablus. Yes the two state solution will not satisfy all the demands of all Palestinians, but there is minimal international support for destroying Israel, the Palestinians are weak, and the Jews have nukes. Reality insists on partition and in practice it has already taken place as most Palestinians know when they complain about how little Israelis know or care about what happens among the Palestinians. The steps the Palestinians are taking in international forums cement that and in any case the Palestinians lack the power to reframe the conversation and are only getting weaker.

            The heart of the matter is whether a Palestinian State would contribute to the security of Israelis or not. Without the Palestinian State accepting the end of the conflict via accepting the principle of ‘two states for two peoples’ there is no chance of any long-term productive cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian State on security issues. The domestic consequences of the “nuances” you insist we must accept inevitably leads to conflict, not resolution. You insist the status quo is problematic, which it is, but then you offer us an inevitably worse outcome and insist that we must accept it because of some phantom long-term threat. The status quo is preferable by far and we pretty obviously can and will sustain it until this “nuance” is resolved in a matter which is conducive with our long-term security.

            Reply to Comment
    7. Bar

      Good essay and absolutely correct.

      I think, however, one of the areas of weakness that the left has to address is Palestinian rejection of Camp David, Taba and Olmert offers as well as Palestinian efforts in the international diplomatic and law arenas and, of course, the issue of the rocket and tunnel warfare from Gaza and Lebanon. If you want to present a forceful and realistic case, these are the key reasons that Israelis tend to seek “strong” governments.

      The other issue is that Israel’s left needs to demonstrate that it has a realistic and viable plan for economic improvement for all of the Israelis who don’t work in the high tech sector and who are falling way behind in their ability to live comfortably in this economy.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “Camp David, Taba and Olmert offers”

        The problem here is that the Israeli public tends to have a false idea of what was actually offered, to overestimate the “generosity” of the offers, and to have an overly entitled sense of what they can keep. In a word, they lack realism.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          They know well what was offered. And that the offers led to rejection by Palestinians as well as war and diplomatic war. Realism suggests that they move on. Until the left can address this serious problem – not of perception but of rejections and war by Palestinians – they will have a tough time mustering enough votes to get into power.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Don’t worry, no one realistic thinks Israelis are capable of ending the occupation by themselves. It will take outside intervention. What really starts real change is not going to be what Israelis vote for.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Israel walked out of the Sinai, with its oil and space three times the size of Israel, for peace. Israel walked out of Lebanon and Israel walked out of Gaza. If the Palestinians had agreed to the deals which they were offered, there would be a Palestinian state presently. Sadly, they keep wanting the entire land so they continue to resist. It’s good for propaganda, but bad for statehood (and the facts).

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Israel walked out of the Sinai and got peace. Israel got chased out of Lebanon. Israel got chased out of Gaza. The West Bank is in a category of its own, it’s ideological prize of its fanatics it could easily walk out of and get peace but it won’t give it up without a fight and will probably have to yet again be chased out. Such a needless waste of energy and good will. Israelis refuse to admit to themselves how much their settlers hold them hostage and cheat them.

            Reply to Comment
      • Ricky Rocket

        Been hearing that sort of drivel from ignorant fools and I count you among them. Show us an Arabian nation that has advanced itself into the 20th century with skills taught in its own educational institutions. It is the Arab rulers who insist that their citizens remain largely ignorant but are taught to be arrogant since Islam is Allah’s favorite religion. Of course that fails to explain why not a single Arab nation has made any forward strides in any academic pursuits without Western aid. During the past 1,000 years has been mired in a dark age. maybe someday they will become enlightened but not as long as the clerics and dictators are opposed to such a notion.
        A columnist in a London Arabic newspaper pointed out the difference between Western scientists will to go to Mars and die there to advance human knowledge in opposition to Muslims committing suicide in order to simply murder people and sprea

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          A non-sequitur.

          Reply to Comment
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