15 February 2009

The toxic forces or what is happening to the Israeli left

A toxic force rises in Israel, says Jonathan Freedland, and he is right.

Reading the latest deluge of articles on the Gaza war, on the attitude of the left toward Israel, on the elections I cannot help but feel intermittent waves of unpleasant odor(s) coming from two sides (not related in any way to the authors of the linked articles, of course).

The first one - the rank odor of nationalism coming from our own ultra-right politicos, riding high on the latest developments in Gaza. Yes, Lieberman is a highly toxic concoction (by the way, whether he is a Moldovan-born immigrant or a British-born starry-eyed repatriate or a Brooklyn-born Messiah is less important - why it should be important to Jonathan?). And yes, his "invention" of loyalty oath is nothing short of fascism. I and many people like I, can and will show Lieberman exactly what he has to kiss, where he can get our signatures and what to do with that oath.

The second one - the toxic vapors of anti-Israeli propaganda that is slowly but surely is eating its way into the remains of critically-minded left - even the best of them. Starting with the persistent refrain of "war crimes" that eventually was accepted by most as a given. Without attempting to understand what the term means, many of the left have clearly shown that the Jew that fights back is, in fact, not really acceptable (outside of a Defiance-like WW II flick). Maybe in theory - somewhere, sometimes, but not now, not in practice. It started earlier, after the "disengagement" from Gaza in 2005. I clearly remember the deafening outcry after every "targeted killing"/"assassination" of a Hamas or Islamic Jihad bozo, when every peace-and-freedom-loving "progressive" demanded that the cruel and inhuman practice stop immediately, that the nice folks in question be subjected to a due process of law and only then, if found guilty... How exactly it should work in practice, no one of the progressives had a slightest idea, but the feeling of riding a high moral horse was too intoxicating. Then came the Cast Lead - after 8 years of Qassam attacks. As with targeted killing, no one on the left had a slightest inkling of an idea about a better way to stop the rockets - but the outcry has started immediately.

And here is the key to analysis of the current situation of the Israeli left. People who supported the Oslo fiasco, who have done their best to make the disengagement from Gaza happen now feel like fish out of the water. On one hand, there is no peaceful solution to the 60 years of strife on the horizon. Gaza, that was supposed to be a first step to the future two state solution, turned out to be a total failure.

On the other hand, the painful feeling of being slowly but surely betrayed by the international left (whatever is left of it), slowly but surely pushes the Israeli left in the same direction as does the belligerent Hamas and its ilk - to the right.

The contrast between the level of vitriol directed at Israel by the left from abroad and their total silence on the alternative ways to reach that elusive peace with our neighbors is another wrinkle on the generally sour picture. No one, not a single critic of Israel (aside of open Jew-haters who know exactly what to do with this frisky nation) has offered a solution that will hold water - nay, let's make it honey to simplify the task. Aside of generic calls for Israel to get back to the borders of 1967 (tried already in Gaza, to what effect - everyone knows) and to sit down to negotiate with Hamas (OK, fine, now get the other side to that table, please, or, to be precise, start with persuading them that there is a table) - literally no one is able to offer a practical way to get out of that morass.

And the kind of the advice that Jonathan F. is able to offer in his "Above all, it is Israeli society that has to take a hard look at itself. For so long, it has lived inside a bubble in which it can only see its side of the story: they hit us, so we hit back; we are under siege from hostile forces, we are the victim." - no, really, Jonathan, come off that horse. It isn't even that high, rather a pony, old and lame at that. There is hardly a person on the left, and I doubt that there are that many on the right, that will sign under this imaginary "they hit us, we hit them" scenario. We hit each other, so what is your point then?

Add to this the unmistakable signs like Europeans: Jews killed Christ, caused financial crisis (of course it is not about the left now, how could it be?), and the causes for the Israeli left's disarray are more or less explained.

And then there is the intangible - the emotional side. In the article linked above: What makes the left vilify Israel?, Martin Bright says:

Others have written about the open sewer that the blogosphere becomes as soon as the subject of Israel is raised.
It is not just the blogosphere, I have to correct. There are quite a few of the mass media outfits that are doing exactly the same. But it is not about blogs and mass media that I am worried, it is about the "progressive left" that are able to stand near that sewer and breath the miasma. It is about almost total lack of concern about the brown waves overflowing this sewer and the gradual habit-forming it causes.

And if someone thinks that this hatefest doesn't push the Israelis further to the right, one better do some more thinking.

Another, slightly different angle, by TNC.