Fisking the Israeli Left
A great many of my posts so far have been an attempt at elucidating what makes the Left-Islam unholy alliance tick. Such posts will continue, G-d willing, but for this post I decided to take a break from analysis of worldwide, historical ideology and concentrate on a particular place and time: the reaction of the Israeli Left to the aftermath of the (in all probability) first Israel–Hizbullah war of 2006.
In this post I bring important snippets from one of the two leading newspapers of Israel. I take the article “Wounded Doves”, from the section “24 Hours” (dedicated for items going beyond news reporting) of the Sunday, August 20, 2006 issue of Yediot Achronot. This article talks about the moving of the Israeli Left away from the consensus following the war, and the lessons the Leftists say they have learned from that. I take the words of the Israeli Leftist leaders, translate them and reply right after that. The quotes are indented; my replies are without indentation, and leading with “ZY: ” after each quote block.
“I think that not all the steps we took were mistakes”, the minister Yitzchak Hertzog, from the Labor party, defends the peace camp. “I don’t think it’s possible today to state that getting out of Lebanon or from Gaza was a mistake. It gave us stature in the international arena. But those steps were wrongly interpreted by the Palestinian side and by Hizbullah, and that's something that should be taken in account”.
ZY: The whole impetus behind the Israeli Left’s advocacy of the evacuations (of Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005) was the idea that it would give Israel a good standing in the eyes of the world. Hertzog admits here what Israelis on the Right knew all along. It is constructive, though, to conclude that if we didn’t achieve even that paltry (I would say “unacceptable”, but I’m a right-winger, so what do I know…) goal, then the whole idea of evacuation should now be given a radical rethinking. It used to be the Left would advocate abandoning lands for peace, and then we saw what peace we got by that, so then the Left relinquished the idea of land for peace and settled for the idea of land for world praise. But now, in that purely defensive and necessary war we waged in Lebanon, we got a thorough lambasting from world opinion, so land for world praise is seen not to work either. I wonder what the Left will advocate in exchange for the lands of Israel now.
Hertzog says the Palestinians and Hizbullah interpreted our evacuations wrongly. Does that mean he acknowledges the fact the enemy sees our evacuations as weakness, as invitations to further war? It would seem like it, but a later passage shows not, shows that a dyed-in-the-wool Leftist can easily spin it in a different direction.
“Our getting out of Gaza and Lebanon also gave us exceptional international backing in the last war. They [the evacuations —ZY] were the first-degree hasbara weapon. They proved that Israel had made steps toward peace [and] set up on the international border. There can’t be such a thing that Israel should both get out of the area and be attacked”.
ZY: I don’t know what world Hertzog is living in. I saw international condemnation of Israel nearly universally right from the first IAF air raids on Lebanon. Sure, there were the surprises of even Saudi Arabia condemning Hizbullah, but that was only for reasons of Realpolitik (the Sunni–Shi’ite battle for hegemony), and only by the heads of the state. The people all over the world, unless they were on Israel’s side from beforehand, marched out to protests and demonstrations the earliest they could. In short, the Israeli Left’s idea of selling portions of our divinely-promised land for a few hunks of approval from the world didn’t work.
(Replying to the reporter’s question if the Israeli Left should undergo a process of soul-searching) “The more radical Israeli Left is confused today, because it has always been averse to wars, and this was a just war. But the soul-searching should be not only of the Left, but of the great majority found on the Center. The Center found a very convenient solution in unilateral steps: you don’t have to negotiate with anybody. You close the fence and what’s behind us doesn’t matter. The true Left has always preferred negotiations to unilateral steps”.
ZY: Hertzog’s calling it “a just war” is refreshing from the Left; then again, as we will see later, not all on the Left agree on that.
So now the Israeli Left has managed to find out what caused the war: unilateral steps, the lack of negotiation. There are two points I have to mention here: first, the Oslo Accords were anything but unilateral, they were a peace treaty like Hertzog would really prefer, but they were torn down nonetheless, along the 1990’s unofficially, until their final dissolution in October 2000 following the Second Intifada. Of course, the Israeli Left found ways of explaining that away too. Nothing new for Leftists. Second point, related to the first: I fail to see what benefit bilateral, negotiated agreements have over unilateral steps when the other side is hell-bent on employing any means of destroying you. A bilateral agreement can give you the benefit of striding down the tarmac waving a piece of paper in your hand, but that could no more halt the march of enemy aggression than a unilateral step could.
A less introspective position is presented by Yossi Beilin, the leader of Meretz and one of those who conceived the Geneva Plan. As far as he is concerned, the Second Lebanon War has turned the Israeli Left to more relevant than ever. “Our message is only getting stronger today”, he argues. As far as he is concerned, the war has opened a new window of opportunity. “Olmert now has an historic opportunity”, he says. “This is the first time the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, of Syria and of Lebanon say to us, ‘We are ready’. He just needs to decide what his agenda is: Netanyahu or Beilin”.
ZY: My first reaction is, of course, to ask what substance Mr. Beilin has been abusing. Second reaction, leaning on the last sentence: he may not be deceived, he may be deceiving, which is worse. The Israeli Leftist framers of “peace plans” (plans for expulsion of Jews from their homes, more accurately) usually had the interests of their standing in history books in mind rather than the interests of the Jewish nation.
I have skipped a few more trite Beilinisms (on the same vein as the preceding, so it’s redundant). Now the interview passes to the Leftist writer A. B. Yehoshua:
(Reporter) So what do we do now?
“In my opinion, we need to go quickly for an agreement with the Hamas government. You see, the retreat has been done, so let’s calm down Gaza—we’ll agree on a ceasefire, with opening of passages and international surveillance on weapons smuggling and a safe passage to the [West] Bank. Now is the time to work on it, and we can start on rehabilitation immediately”.
ZY: All done before, when Fatah was the PA government. Done first under Arafat, only to explode, literally, in our faces when “Palestinian” suicide bombers used our “safe passages” in order to reach our malls. And then, when Arafish kicked the bucket, Abu Mazen proved to be a lame duck, and then the Hamas, which A. B. Yehoshua advocates negotiations with, came to power, through a democratic election signaling the will of the “Palestinian” people to be governed by an Islamic group vowing to destroy all of the state of Israel from the river to the sea (G-d forbid).
(Reporter) Aren’t you afraid that the Right could pick the fruits of the last war?
“I’ve heard in the last days a lot of contemptible declarations from the Right, but they’re the last ones who have a right to complain. They ruled the government, they let Hizbullah arm themselves, they are the ones who kept the army busy at the border blocks and on guard at the unrecognized settlements, they were the ones who controlled the treasury and dealt out the resources. Their whining now isn’t convincing”.
ZY: Should the fruits of Leftism prove to be rancid, blame it on the Right. Sharon’s right-wing government let Hizbullah rearm, yes, but that’s because any attempt to stop that would have been roasted by the Israeli Left as “a right-wing wrench in the wheels of the peace process” (until, on July 12, 2006, the straw broke the camel’s back). The border blocks, which the Oslo Accords should have made unnecessary (Shimon Peres’s dream was for the Middle East to become like Europe, without borders), were made necessary by infiltration of suicide bombers. A. B. Yehoshua sure does engage in some weapons-grade chutzpah.
(Reporter’s background) Tzali Reshef, one of the heads of “Peace Now”, believes that not only is the Left not dead, it has gained a concentrated dose of oxygen that will guarantee it a new life. Like many in the Israeli Left, Reshef thought that in its first stages, at least, the war was justified, but, according to him, the failure of the war proves what he and his friends have been arguing for all the years: that only a political arrangement can bring quiet.
(Reporter’s question to Reshef) So your conception has won?
“Yes. The war has totally refuted the thesis that gains could be had by means of force. With all its power, Israel can’t quell guerrilla operations on enemy territory, and we won’t be able to do that in the future. Only arrangements can bring security, and we need to reach such agreements as quickly as possible with Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians, including Hamas”.
ZY: The truth is the IDF was not allowed to check whether force could, or not, solve the problem of guerrilla warfare. Before it could do that, it was ordered a ceasefire by the government, prompted by the pressure of world opinion. There are ways of winning guerrilla warfare, as in Iwo Jima for example, but world politics are not as they were in the days of Iwo Jima. So, the IDF is politically handicapped, and Reshef takes that as proof that there is no military solution to terrorism? Best-of-breed logic, my good fellow.
(Reporter) Can we now convince the public of the benefits of another retreat?
“The next war will be with long-range missiles. The strategic significance of holding the Golan [Heights] is meaningless. Next time, we will get missiles from Tehran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, so that the Golan would have no significance. What’s significant is if there is peace or not”.
ZY: Appeasement. If, as he said in the previous quote, there is no military solution, then the only thing we can do is buy out our peace with concessions toward the enemy. Which we already did, but don’t let the facts get in the way of Leftism. Far be it from us to think that, if there is a threat in Tehran, then it might be actually better to go after Tehran than bet our lives on agreements with their proxy terrorist organizations on our borders.
There follows a description of how lots of Leftists were united with the right-wingers at the first stages of the war, only to go back to their leftarded (hat tip for the term: Atlas) position following Qana and Saniora’s seven-point plan. The next on interview, after telling us Yossi Sarid (leader of the left-wing Meretz party) refused to be interviewed, is Shulamit Aloni, who was with him in Meretz in the past:
(Reporter) Sarid’s former partner, Shulamit Aloni, is one of the few who opposed the war from its inception. “We had a case, but we should have dealt with it a different way”, she states. “After they captured our soldiers, we should have made an ultimatum to the Lebanese government instead of bombing. They went out to war for lost honor [i.e. she implies it was for the sake of restoring our honor. —ZY] and destroyed Lebanon. Why, because our sovereignty had been violated? How many times did we violate the sovereignty of Lebanon?”
ZY: The only reason Aloni and her ilk (Avneri and Gush Shalom, which features anti-Israel cartoons on its website that look like being taken out of any Arab daily) is less openly vilified by the Israeli public than she ought to be is the memory of the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, the care not to make it happen again. Inwardly at least, extreme, intransigent Leftists like Aloni and Avneri are hated because they invariably present the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli point of view, under a guise of “moderation and sanity” that convinces no one. Give Lebanon an ultimatum? Everyone knows the government of Lebanon, being fractured into Christian, Druze, Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite Muslim seats, is nearly totally ineffective, even at peacetime, let alone at times of war. The ultimatum would have had no effect, and then what? Israel would have ended doing the same thing it really did. And the war wasn’t about restitution of our honor—that’s projection of the Muslim mentality upon the Jewish people, who have long matured out of such things. The war was about achieving peace, about living in peace. It was about bringing the number of enemy attacks on us to zero, a goal which the Oslo Accords should have achieved but did not. It’s not the military solution that has been tried and found to fail, it’s the opposite: the diplomatic solution has been tried and found to fail. But don’t expect Aloni to make those pesky facts change her mind. What’s good for Yehoshua Sobol isn’t necessarily good for Aloni or Beilin.
The next, final section of the article quotes a few Israeli Leftists saying it would be better for the Left to leave the arena of Israeli foreign policy and concentrate on domestic policy instead. So long as that doesn’t mean whittling away all signs of Zionism and working on educating Israeli Jewish children to hate their religion, for the purpose that we could all worship the golden calf of cosmopolitan sameness and political correctness, I’m for that. But I doubt Leftists can contain their deep-seated desires on the domestic policy front either.
Pray for the salvation of all Israel.