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With the Right firmly in power, Israel's 'peace camp' turns on itself

In a new campaign against an attempt to legalize the most blatant settler land theft, dozens of left-wing Zionist heavyweights instead blame the ‘radical left’ for the absence of peace.

Several dozen Israeli academic, cultural and military heavyweights published full-page ads in two leading Israeli newspapers Friday morning denouncing a proposed law that would retroactive legalize the theft of Palestinian land.

Israel’s attorney general has declared the so-called “normalization law” to be unconstitutional, and world powers cited it as one of the central factors that drove the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last week.

The full-page ads read:

This law contradicts natural justice, it contradicts international law and morals. MK Benny Begin is the one who termed it the ‘theft law.’

This extremist and somnambulant nationalist leadership, whose [coalition] partners are religious extremists and nationalist extremists, is going to soon force us to choose between life under a regime led by an Arab-majority, which exists between the river and the sea, and a regime resembling apartheid based on the hatred of others and the oppression of [political] opponents.

The fanatic right and the anti-Zionists radicals from the extreme left have joined forces to convince us that “the occupation is irreversible.” Both aim to make us despondent about the vision of a democratic state of Israel. But the occupation is reversible, and we will fight unflinchingly to end it with a peace accord! (Emphasis added.)

Among the signatories are David Grossman, Amos Oz, Uri Avery, Naomi Chazan, and others.

While it is certainly praiseworthy to oppose the “normalization law,” I’m left dumbfounded by the strange decision to denigrate in the same sentence “the fanatic right and the anti-Zionists radicals from the extreme left.” Has the Zionist left been possessed by the spirit of Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev? In the quest for public legitimacy is it not enough to oppose a right-wing government that is actually advancing this destructive law? Is it really necessary to also sling mud at the more radical left?

Do these luminaries of the establishment left really believe that the fanatic right and radical left “joined forces?” One is a radical right-wing government which holds all the power, which actively working to entrench the occupation, which is inciting the Israeli public against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, and which publicly renounces the two-state solution.

On the other side you have a few hundred, or maybe thousand, left-wing activists whose entire struggle is in the name of peace, equality and freedom for everyone living in this land, most of whom support a two-state solution.

Does anybody really believe that the threat to the two-state solution posed by these two groups is any way symmetrical, or that the respective power dynamics are in any way commensurate?

Perhaps the authors of the ad believe that by trashing and blaming the far left they can win a few political points with “moderate center” voters, the type that support Yair Lapid. In reality, doing so only plays into and strengthens the right wing’s delegitimization and stigmatization campaign against any type of Palestinian activism, certainly BDS activists, against Breaking the Silence, against B’Tselem, and eventually the entire “Left,” a term Benjamin Netanyahu has successfully made pejorative in the Hebrew language.

One final note: for years, we’ve heard members of the “peace camp,” the Zionist Left, warn that any year now Israelis will be forced to choose between living under an Arab-controlled regime and living under an apartheid regime. When exactly is that moment, when we choose? There’s no real prospect an “Arab regime” in Israel anytime soon, and every single day for the past 50 years Israelis have chosen the other option, wherein their democratic country operates separate legal systems for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank. When exactly will the “peace camp” decide that reality is apartheid, against which they must fight unflinchingly.

A version of this article first appeared in Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Lewis from Afula

      When a long-held political vision implodes, the result is mass disillusionment, finger-pointing and infighting.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        I tend to agree. People have spent way too much time and energy on trying to realize a just resolution of the I/P conflict via a sensible 2SS – and it seems that we are all coming to accept, like it or not, that a sovereign independent State of Palestine is not going to happen. Not now – its time has passed. This is going to be difficult for the Israeli left which supports a genuine 2SS and impossible for liberal Jews in the USA.

        Which answers Haggai’s question: Israel has already chosen and apartheid is not some future threat but a present reality. The battle now has to be for equal rights for all – and this is a battle that will be difficult for Zionism to win now that the pretense or fig leaf of the 2SS has faded away. There is no future for a Nation-State that restricts franchise to only some people of the wrong religion. I assume that Palestinians already holding Israeli citizenship will not be stripped of their right to vote. Though who knows – Israel has not been slow on the bureaucratic means of privileging Jews within Israel.

        We can expect BDS to flourish. We can expect the likes of Bennett and co to show the full ugliness of Zionism simply because they have become used to impunity.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Eliza, well stated and precise. This vision imploded because it was hollow. For a very long time it was not a “vision” at all but a fig leaf for Israel to “manage” creeping annexation.

          Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Eliza: I tend to agree with you. Transferring the Arabs home is becoming increasingly popular in France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Netherlands these days. The rapes, bombings, knifings and beheadings are becoming endemic. It is only a matter of time when these nations decide to repatriate their Arabs. I suspect when it happens in Europe, Israel will do the same thing in Yesha.

          Reply to Comment
          • Oriol

            You cannot “repatriate” them. They are in their country.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Oriol

      Truth is, the so-called “Anti-Zionist radicals” have repeatedly accused “Zionist Peace Camp” of being flawed pacifists, etc. I agree that “slinging mud upon the more radical left”, as the author states it, seems rather unnecessary and stupid. But I suspect they are not that diferent from the writers at 972mag.

      Reply to Comment