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Friday, December 28, 2012

The Israeli Left's failure

Ari Shavit may not support Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party. But he understands that a lot of Israelis support Bennett, and a lot of Israelis think like him. A lot more than support the Israeli Left.
"Zionism arose thanks to secularism," he says. "The dogmatic religious establishment in the Diaspora was not capable of initiating Zionism without [Theodor] Herzl's secular involvement. But secular Zionism was an existential Zionism that saw the state of the Jews as a refuge state.
"A state that is 64 years old cannot continue to exist on the ethos of a refuge state, on security alone. After all, if this were the reason for our existence, there are many places that are safer for Jews - like Melbourne, Australia, or New Jersey. They don't send children to the army there, and missiles aren't flying there. Therefore, the time has come to move from the existential Zionism that you come from to a Jewish Zionism. It is necessary to base our national life on a Jewish basis, and it is necessary to give the state a Jewish coloration.
"I don't support religious coercion, but I do believe that Judaism is our 'why': Judaism is the reason for our existence and the justification for our existence, and the meaning of our existence. I know that for your 'tribe,' this is difficult. It is difficult because your tribe established the state in a secular-socialist spirit. And as you see the society changing and the state changing, you feel like you are done for. Your feeling is that the home that had been your home is no longer yours.
"I am not indifferent to your distress. I am also personally connected to your ethos. When I was a child, I had Yoni's letters [the reference is to war hero Yoni Netanyahu] and [military commando] Meir Har-Zion's book next to my bed. So for me it's not tactics and it's not cosmetics. My whole life I've had one foot here and one foot there.
"You are right," he continues. "What is happening is a revolution. Behind the success of Habayit Hayehudi there are deep forces that are changing the face of the country. But for me in particular, it's important to be a bridge to you. One of the biggest challenges from my perspective is to connect you to religious Zionism, too."
But you are about to annex 60 percent of the area of the West Bank, I persist. Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Benjamin Netanyahu all refrained from taking this extreme step. Implementing the Bennett plan will bury the two states once and for all. Implementing the Bennett plan will perpetuate the occupation and make Israel a leper apartheid state. Though you are a high-tech person from Ra'anana who has seen the world, I continue, you are entirely ignoring the world. You will bring disaster down upon us by causing the international community to condemn us, and by causing a third of all Israelis to be entirely alienated from that new Israel you will shape.
The chairman of Habayit Hayehudi tells me the international reaction concerns him, and therefore he will not annex most of the territories right at the start of what will be a long process. He believes that, ultimately, the world is busy with the economic collapse of Greece, the United States' fiscal cliff and the slaughter in Syria, and thus it is possible to bring the world to come to terms now with facts on the ground and firm Israeli decisions. Back in 1981, when then-Prime Minister Begin was about to apply Israeli law to the Golan Heights, Shimon Peres and Amos Oz also warned him that it would lead to Israel becoming a leper state. He passed the Golan Heights Law, we received a few criticisms - and we carried on.
Bennett says the internal Israeli rift disturbs him far more. Consequently, he will conduct a dialogue with the center and the left just as he is conducting a dialogue with me right now. But after making the "right" noises, Bennett straightens up and declares we tried Oslo and we tried the disengagement - and we've seen what has happened. If a Palestinian state were to arise in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank ), it would threaten Israel both with missiles and refugees. When he is abroad and when he reads The Economist magazine, it seems to him, too, that the establishment of Palestine is inevitable. But when he drives to Jerusalem via Ariel, he understands that it is not going to happen.
A lot more Israelis think like Naftali Bennett - and Moshe Feiglin - than think like Haaretz's editorial writers. Israel is better off that way. Whether one agrees with them or not, they are the ones trying to make Israel into a Jewish state.

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