With the Right firmly in power, Israel’s ‘peace camp’ turns on itself

In a new campaign against an attempt to legalize the most blatant settler land theft, dozens of left-wing Zionist heavyweights instead blame the ‘radical left’ for the absence of peace.

Several dozen Israeli academic, cultural and military heavyweights published full-page ads in two leading Israeli newspapers Friday morning denouncing a proposed law that would retroactive legalize the theft of Palestinian land.

Israel’s attorney general has declared the so-called “normalization law” to be unconstitutional, and world powers cited it as one of the central factors that drove the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last week.

The full-page ads read:

This law contradicts natural justice, it contradicts international law and morals. MK Benny Begin is the one who termed it the ‘theft law.’

This extremist and somnambulant nationalist leadership, whose [coalition] partners are religious extremists and nationalist extremists, is going to soon force us to choose between life under a regime led by an Arab-majority, which exists between the river and the sea, and a regime resembling apartheid based on the hatred of others and the oppression of [political] opponents.

The fanatic right and the anti-Zionists radicals from the extreme left have joined forces to convince us that “the occupation is irreversible.” Both aim to make us despondent about the vision of a democratic state of Israel. But the occupation is reversible, and we will fight unflinchingly to end it with a peace accord! (Emphasis added.)

Among the signatories are David Grossman, Amos Oz, Uri Avery, Naomi Chazan, and others.

While it is certainly praiseworthy to oppose the “normalization law,” I’m left dumbfounded by the strange decision to denigrate in the same sentence “the fanatic right and the anti-Zionists radicals from the extreme left.” Has the Zionist left been possessed by the spirit of Naftali Bennett and Miri Regev? In the quest for public legitimacy is it not enough to oppose a right-wing government that is actually advancing this destructive law? Is it really necessary to also sling mud at the more radical left?

Do these luminaries of the establishment left really believe that the fanatic right and radical left “joined forces?” One is a radical right-wing government which holds all the power, which actively working to entrench the occupation, which is inciting the Israeli public against Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, and which publicly renounces the two-state solution.

On the other side you have a few hundred, or maybe thousand, left-wing activists whose entire struggle is in the name of peace, equality and freedom for everyone living in this land, most of whom support a two-state solution.

Does anybody really believe that the threat to the two-state solution posed by these two groups is any way symmetrical, or that the respective power dynamics are in any way commensurate?

Perhaps the authors of the ad believe that by trashing and blaming the far left they can win a few political points with “moderate center” voters, the type that support Yair Lapid. In reality, doing so only plays into and strengthens the right wing’s delegitimization and stigmatization campaign against any type of Palestinian activism, certainly BDS activists, against Breaking the Silence, against B’Tselem, and eventually the entire “Left,” a term Benjamin Netanyahu has successfully made pejorative in the Hebrew language.

One final note: for years, we’ve heard members of the “peace camp,” the Zionist Left, warn that any year now Israelis will be forced to choose between living under an Arab-controlled regime and living under an apartheid regime. When exactly is that moment, when we choose? There’s no real prospect an “Arab regime” in Israel anytime soon, and every single day for the past 50 years Israelis have chosen the other option, wherein their democratic country operates separate legal systems for Jews and Arabs in the West Bank. When exactly will the “peace camp” decide that reality is apartheid, against which they must fight unflinchingly.

A version of this article first appeared in Local Call. Read it here.