Friday, October 22, 2010

Adam Chandler on the Israeli Left

In his recent Huffington Post op-ed, Adam Chandler asks "Is There an Israeli Left Left?". He correctly points out the shift right in Israeli politics to the point where mainstream left parties such as Kadima and Labour have trouble gaining enough seats to make a respectable run for control of the government. He answers his own question in a way I would agree with,
"There are a number of reasons for the impotence of the left, looming large among them, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 and its disengagement from Gaza in 2005. Both maneuvers were viewed by many domestically as risks taken for the sake of peace, risks that ultimately ended in more violence."
 He then talks about a new leftist movement in Israel called "Smol Leumi".
"The political objectives of Smol Leumi consist of three major initiatives. The first is an immediate withdrawal from the West Bank and the fair partitioning of a two-state solution to end the Israeli occupation with or without a peace agreement....The other two pillars of Smol Leumi are more inchoate: to return Israel to the social-democratic economy of its early years and to strive for an exemplary society by uniting the disparate parts of its populace"
Chandler describes Smol Leumi as the only possibility of breaking the right's hold of Israel's government.
Now, in my humble opinion, the second two pillars of Smol Leumi are fine, and in fact need to happen to prevent Israeli society from breaking apart. But the first pillar, which is the only one that is an actual platform, still fails to address the history of the conflict that Chandler described early in his peace. There is no reason to expect that if immediate withdrawal from the West Bank happens, radical groups will not take over there as well and the results will be Cast Lead 2: West Bank Bugaloo. It is this failure to address the realities of the conflict that has caused Israel's left to lose public support and representation in the government.

The HPers, of course, didn't really address Chandler's article and proceeded to offer their own reasons why there is no Israeli Left left. What were those reasons?

The Israeli right killed it. (although don't ask why the right in any other country hasn't killed the left).

They aren't left enough. If they adopt policies that will involve Israel committing suicide, then they'll regain strength.

Surprise! There is no Israeli left, all Israelis are land grabbing thieves. 

Who cares? Israelis turning to the right is "unconscionable", and we must condemn them for it without bothering to understand why they're doing it. 

Israelis are all "elitist colonials".

Good attempt to explain why the Israeli left has lost support in Israel, Mr. Chandler, but the HP has already drawn its own conclusions.


  1. The Israeli Left has declined because its peace policies have proven incorrect and harmful to the country. It has never addressed or come to terms with the issue of Arab hostility to Israel and the absence of a genuine grassroots peace movement on the Arab side. As long as it doesn't deal with reality, it will never again be a major force in Israel's politics in the future.

  2. Until now, I've never posted on how much I agree with EXACTLY what a previous poster wrote, because even when I do agree with what's already up there I want to add my own facts & opinions. But in this case, I can't top or disagree with any of them NormanF's analysis, so FANNED! However, while I hope he's right that the Israeli Left will either deal with reality or be impotent in Israeli politics forever, my gut tells me that the I-Left may just find a way to have power again without having learnt a damn thing. And that would be disastrous.


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