FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

‘Good Labor – Bad Likud’: Dispelling the Myth of ‘Democracy’ within Israel’s Political Establishment

by

The Israeli ‘Right’, as demonstrated by a scary coalition of rightwing nationalists, ultranationalists and religious zealots, deserves all the bad press it has garnered since its formation last May.

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 ofcalls 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 centerpieces 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 behavior and undemocratic practices.

Those who are anticipating the supposed liberal democratic forces in Israel to rise against the destructive rightwing machine should also reconsider. Isaac Herzog, the chairman of the Labor 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 is 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 the ever-hapless Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, who has been watching for years as his make-believe world of ‘peace process’ has been collapsing around him, unable to even control his own exit from, or entry to the West Bank without a prior permit from the Israeli army.

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 political establishment.

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. This intricately constructed and propagated mythology evolved over time, as Israeli hasbara labored to provide a perception of reality that was required to justify its wars, its military occupation, its constant violations of human rights and its many war crimes.

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 rightwing 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 Labor and their allies.

The fact is that it was the Mapai Party, which was later joined by other supposedly ‘progressive’ forces to form the Labor 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 rightwing in Israel did not achieve prominence until the late 1970s. Prior to that, Israel was ruled exclusively by Labor governments. Netanyahu’s current rightwing government officials are by no means short of exacting utter cruelty in inhumaneness, and the reality is that this behavior 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. Rightwing 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.

Labor 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.

Do not believe the hype. Rabin was given a Nobel Peace Prize after the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, despite the fact that Oslo did not give Palestinians sovereignty or the right to self-determination. Instead, it sliced up the West Bank into various zones, ultimately controlled by the Israeli army, and bribed some within the Palestinian elites with phony titles, VIP cards and mounds of money to play along. Rabin was killed by a Rightwing Jewish zealot because, as far as the religious and ultranationalist camps in Israel were concerned, even such ‘concessions’ as a Palestinian flag and a national anthem, among other symbolic ‘achievements’ offered to the Palestinians by Oslo, were still considered a taboo.

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 Labor 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 have 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 Labor Party policies following the illegal Occupation of what remained of historic Palestine after the war of 1967.

At the time, rightwing forces were too insignificant to merit mention. Only the Labor reigned supreme, which single-handedly took over Palestine and precluded every chance for a lasting peace.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

More articles by:
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail