By Ramzy Baroud
16 February 2016
The Israeli “Right,” as demonstrated by a
scary coalition of right-wing nationalists, ultranationalists and religious
zealots, deserves all the bad press it has garnered since its formation last
But none of this should come as a shock, as
the “Right” in Israel has never been anything but a coalition of demagogues
that catered to the lowest common denominator in society. As unlikable as
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is, he is, in fact, a fair
representation of the worst that Israel has to offer, which, over the years,
has morphed to represent mainstream thinking.
But Israel has not always been ruled by the
right-wingers, and the likes of current Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, who
has made a habit of calls for extermination and genocide of Palestinians, are
relatively newcomers to Israel’s political tussle. In previous Knessets, the
likes of her would have been assigned to a neglected seat in the back of the
Knesset, along with other lunatics who often mouthed profanities and
incessantly called for killing all Gentiles. Tellingly, she is now one of the
main centrepieces in Netanyahu’s menacing coalition.
Somehow, this may be of benefit to the
wider world. At least now, many would get to see Israel as the country that it
has always been, but which has cleverly hidden its real nature under a mask of
liberal façade and ever-touted democratic ideals. Few, with good conscience,
can claim that Netanyahu and his partners — Moshe Yaalon, Naftali Bennet and
Shaked, among others — are icons of democracy, any democracy, however lacking.
In fact, a new draft in the Knesset, which is in the process of becoming a law,
proposes to punish any Israeli organization that dares question Israel’s
behaviour and undemocratic practices.
Those who are anticipating the supposed
liberal democratic forces in Israel to rise against the destructive right-wing
machine should also reconsider. Isaac Herzog, the chairman of the Labour Party
and head of the Zionist Union coalition is not markedly different than
Netanyahu, at least when it comes to issues of substance. At best, he is a true
manifestation of Israel’s center-left, double-faced approach to politics. Oddly
enough, it is the “Right” that has learned the tricks of the trade from the
“Left” in Israel, not the other way around.
In recent comments, Herzog shouted from the
pits of his party’s political irrelevance that he does not “see a possibility
at the moment of implementing the two-state solution.” He told Israeli Army
Radio that if he were to become a prime minister, he would focus on
implementing security measures instead of investing in a bilateral agreement
with the Palestinians.
While he partly blamed Netanyahu for the
failure to achieve the supposedly coveted goal of two states, he also assigned
equal blame to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. However, the issue is far more
important than blaming Israel’s hypocritical and cowardly “Left”: But, rather,
to highlight a dominant myth about the “Right” and “Left” within Israel’s
For many years, much of the western world’s
understanding of Israel has been based on a cluster of myths, from the early
fables of the Zionists making the desert bloom, to Palestine supposedly being a
land without people for a people without land.
One aspect of the western perception of
Israel is that the “Jewish-state,” which is also a “democracy,” has been
experiencing a long-drawn-out battle between right-wing ideologues and liberal
forces that have labored to preserve Israel’s democratic ideals.
However, such misrepresentations are always
grossly at odds with the reality. Take any aspect of Israeli history that many,
even in the western hemisphere, now see as immoral and inhumane — for example,
the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, the massacres of 1947-48, the racism
against Palestinians who remain in today’s Israel after the Nakba, the illegal
Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the illegal annexation of East Jerusalem,
the construction of the illegal settlements, the building of the Apartheid
Wall, and, more recently, the wars on Gaza which killed over 4,000 people since
2008. Much of these atrocities have the fingerprints of Labour and their
The fact is that it was the Mapai Party,
which was later joined by other supposedly “progressive” forces to form the
Labour Party in the 1960s, that has been responsible for most of the
bloodletting, ethnic cleansing and illegal practices that have pushed the
situation to this degree of desperation.
The right-wing in Israel did not achieve
prominence until the late 1970s. Prior to that, Israel was ruled exclusively by
Labour governments. Netanyahu’s current right-wing government officials are by
no means short of exacting utter cruelty in inhumanness’, and the reality is
that this behaviour is rooted in a political past. What largely differs between
the “Right” and “Left” in Israel is the expression of their political
discourses, certainly not the outcomes.
The fundamental reason why some insist on
maintaining that myth — of Israel’s “Peace Camp” compared to the ominous
“Right” — is that they are frenziedly promoting the idea that Israel is still
governed by democratic forces, an assumption that allows western governments
the time and space to ignore the plight of the Palestinians. Right-wing leaders
like Netanyahu and his coalition partners are an utter embarrassment to Europe
— still a major supporter of Israel — and they make it very difficult for the
United States to even sustain the charade of its peace process. The West longs
for the days when Israel was governed by less belligerent sounding leaders,
regardless of their violent agendas.
Labour governments in Israel, whether those
that existed in the late 40s and 50s, or those that ruled under the leaderships
of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, etc., never truly showed any
genuine sign that ending the Occupation and granting Palestinians a form of
real sovereignty was ever on their agendas.
So, when Herzog threw his hand in the air
and postponed any discussion of a “two-state solution” that has been dead and
buried for years now, it was not a sign that Labour had given up or that the
level-headed Herzog is officially fed-up with the shenanigans of Netanyahu and
stubbornness of Abbas. It is a mere contribution of the “good Labor-bad Likud”
routine that the Israeli ruling class has played for decades.
The great irony, though, is that the
destruction of the “two-state solution” myth was the predictable outcome of the
illegal Jewish colonies in the Occupied Territories, which were, interestingly
enough, the backbone of the Labour Party policies following the illegal
Occupation of what remained of historic Palestine after the war of 1967.
At the time, right-wing forces were too
insignificant to merit mention. Only the Labour reigned supreme, which
single-handedly took over Palestine and precluded every chance for a lasting