Israel’s left will be disappointed by last night’s election results. That is to be expected and no one could hold it against them. They have an alternative vision for advancing the welfare of their country and, for the moment at least, the opportunity to implement that vision has slipped from their grasp. What is less acceptable is the way in which some on Israel’s left seem to have reacted with uncontrolled outbursts of animosity and hatred. We might be able to understand their hatred for Netanyahu and the Likud. But their unashamed hatred for their own country is a different matter. Nothing encapsulates this attitude more than Gideon Levy’s piece in today’s Haaretz: Netanyahu deserves the Israeli People, and they deserve him. With an attitude like that you wonder if these people ever really had Israel’s best interests at heart.
Levy’s post-election musings read more like an adolescent “hope you’re both very happy together” rant, followed by an almighty slamming of the bedroom door. Of course, like most people who utter that phrase, Levy clearly has no desire to see Bibi or the Israeli public finding happiness. Rather, he insists that the re-election of Benjamin Netanyahu heralds the way to Israel’s demise. “On Tuesday the foundations were laid for the apartheid state that is to come,” Haaretz’s prophet of doom warns.
As is often the case with Levy’s writing, this piece is rather incongruous. The ideas and propositions don’t exactly flow coherently from one to the next. And buried in that piece are such eloquent lines as “Dear Likud voters, what the hell do you say ‘yes’ to?” and “Piss off, dear world, we’re on our own. Please don’t interfere, we’re asleep, the people are with Netanyahu.” Apparently the language being employed by the Israeli left is now becoming almost as course and abusive as some of what’s been coming out of the left in America lately too.
Of course, what Levy and Israel’s left are confronting is the unbridgeable gap that exists between their own worldview and reality. While they claim to be the guardians of democracy, the only ones who can rescue the democratic system from the jaws of the neo-fascist Israeli right, it is clear that not only is the democratic system actually functioning just fine thank you very much, but time and again it is rejecting the left. Worse still, it is the very left wing parties who claim to be the heirs of Israel’s socialist past that are polling best in many of Israel’s affluent municipalities; whereas it is Netanyahu’s free market Likud that is winning in working class neighborhoods.
The people keep speaking and they keep rejecting the parties that claim to be the populist parties of the people and the democratic process. How to make sense of this? “This is the result of years’ worth of brainwashing and incitement” Levy insists, unconvincingly. No, it can’t be that Israelis made a rational assessment of the threats their country faces, weighed up the likely ability of the various candidates to meet those threats, and then submitted their well-considered votes accordingly. Nor could it be that the left failed to articulate its positions convincingly. And it certainly can’t be that what happened was what happens in most elections around the world; that the various sections of society simply voted in a way that they believed best advanced their own various interests. It’s obvious; that Netanyahu brainwashed everyone.
But perhaps even Levy isn’t really convinced by that claim. For elsewhere he states his feelings far more clearly when he states simply; “The nation must be replaced. Not another election for the country’s leadership, but general elections to choose a new Israeli people – immediately.” That’s it, Israel’s public falls so woefully short of being worthy of implementing Levy’s lofty ideals that it’d be better to just be rid of them and find a new public instead.
After that bombshell, it would be difficult to be surprised by anything else Levy writes. Yet he concludes his piece by arguing that the international community will ultimately punish Israel, and that that will be a good thing. “The only consolation is that another Netanyahu term will prompt the world to act. That possibility is our only refuge,” concludes Levy. But that statement is not so very far from the words of Haaretz’s former editor David Landau who notoriously told then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that “Israel wants to be raped by the United States.” For its own good you understand, to save Israel from itself.
If it wasn’t clear then, it should be very clear reading Levy’s piece now that, quite simply, much of the Israeli left hates its own country and just about all the people who live there.