Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

OPINION/ The left on probation

Posted by alicemarziali su 10 aprile, 2009


By Alexander Yakobson

Likud’s formation of a cabinet with Labor seems to offer Meretz a great opportunity. Many people want there to be a firm opposition. Meretz has a relative advantage in several important issues, the main one being its determined opposition to the settlement project. Kadima, which is also in the opposition, does not have a good record in this area. Labor is no better, considering that its leader, Ehud Barak, did not evacuate a single illegal outpost during his term as defense minister.

The settlement issue is not just another political matter. Focusing on it need not reflect tribal enmity toward the settlers and the national-religious community. It’s a question regarding the country’s future: whether the State of Israel has a future.

The settlement project’s declared objective from the start was to ensure Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan River. It’s current objective is to prevent an evacuation of Israelis large enough to enable a real partition of the two peoples. Politically and diplomatically, the discussion on whether to divide the land has already been decided. Even Benjamin Netanyahu cannot deny this. On the ground, however, some people try stubbornly every day to reverse the process. A large part of the nation sees this process as a threat to Israel’s future.

The party that states this position outright has a broad base of support. But it’s not certain if this potential will be realized. The left wing is ostensibly paying a political price for telling the Israeli public the whole truth, even when the truth is hard to accept. However, over the past few years, the Israeli left – and Meretz as its representative – has paid a steep political price for doing quite the opposite: The leftist bloc has become expert at not telling the whole truth.

This bloc takes pleasure in telling its political adversaries all the unpleasant truths straight to their faces. But it avoids telling the public the truth about the other side’s behavior in the conflict. And even when this is spoken of, it’s hinted at, mumbled in a low voice atypical of the Israeli left in any other field.

For example, in an interview with Haaretz earlier this month, former Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On said: “We have to tell the public that we have a problem with the Palestinians. What we thought would happen didn’t happen so quickly. I think it’s an urgent interest of ours to end the occupation … But there’s a problem.”

So Gal-On also thinks there’s a problem with the Palestinians. The mere admittance of this is rare and worthy of appreciation, but what exactly is that problem? How serious is it? Is the problem limited to Hamas; does it include Fatah or just parts of Fatah? Does it have tactical or strategic dimensions? Does it pertain to accepting the existence of a Jewish state in part of the country?

And how is this problem to affect Israeli policy? Does it mean every territorial concession in the West Bank in the near future could expose West Jerusalem, the Tel Aviv area and Ben-Gurion International Airport to rocket fire? Gal-On’s response to these questions remains unclear. What’s clear is that if Israel reacts to rockets that start falling after a pullout from Palestinian lands, Gal-On will label that war “unnecessary.”

The current circumstances in Israel and the world give the left a chance. The financial crisis has allowed the critics of capitalism to achieve a level of public support unparalleled for decades. Environmental struggles are an important component of every leftist party’s agenda. The influence of the religious and ultra-Orthodox parties in Netanyahu’s cabinet is expected to reawaken the struggle against religious coercion, and Meretz has a thing or two to say about this. The dismissal of the Arab railway employees for not having served in the Israel Defense Forces will not withstand legal scrutiny, but this deplorable move reminds us that public and political action is needed for civil equality.

It shouldn’t be too difficult to compile an up-to-date, attractive and diversified agenda for an Israeli leftist party, an agenda that goes beyond regional issues. Large parts of the public are open to piercing criticism of society’s defects and injustices by the people in power. But those who take to silence or circumlocution when it’s time to tell the truth about the other side have no chance of rallying support.




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