Friday, March 5, 2010

Still Left Left

Following the Meretz report on their electoral failure, we're having a spate of op-eds on the demise of Israel's Left. Ari Shavit, once the Chairman of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, now a persona non-grata in those circles for his apostasy, makes a reasonable point: The Israeli Left had the correct ideas, to the extent that they eventually were adopted by Israel's mainstream, at which point they were tested against reality and found sorely lacking. Now, he says, the only way for the Left to recuperate is to adapt their messages to recognize reality - specifically, they must figure out how Israel can end the occupation of the Palestinians while retaining its ability to defend itself from the Palestinians who wish Israel gone, not peace alongside it.

So far, so reasonable. Except for one thing: why is it the task of the Left to come up with the resolution? Might it not be the Center, or the Right, or the association of pet owners? Why must the answer come from the Left?


Anonymous said...

"why is it the task of the Left to come up with the resolution?"

I suppose he defines "Left" as anyone wanting to end the occupation, and "Right" as anyone wishing to continue it indefinitely, by one means or another.

Since "Left" and "Right" are only relative terms, and their meanings shift over time, one is pretty free to define them as one likes.


Jon said...

Exactly. More broadly, the Left is meant to be the group of people concerned with (allegedly) progressive values, human rights, etc.

Anonymous said...

the Left is the daring one with the new ideas daringly storming into a better future - which sometimes maybe a good strategy
the Right is sitting tight on their always was like that and will not budge one millimeter always preaching about hurdles and impossibilities - which sometimes may be a good strategy

Sebastian Haffner says that the Left in pre- and early Nazi-Germany lost out because they too often couldn't agree on strategy while at the same time they were brave enough to die - which in practical life meant that the brown shirts operated with clearly defined goals against communists et al who were split up in small competing groups and therefore never a match in the street fighting.

That's why I think a good mixture a sound back and forth between the two sides should yield the best results, if only both sides could admit to their short comings and therefore their need of a partner who is not a soul-mate.

This Is Hell said...

Except that the 'left' is much a breeding ground for antisemitism as the far right. I wouldn't the left to suddenly eureka a solution that inherently promotes many of the same things they object to.

Anonymous said...

It is only up to the Left to do this if the Left wants to regain its former relevance in Israeli politics. If the Left wants to remain in its current position, in which it has little influence over events other than by feeding anti-Israel claims to organizations whose intent is the destruction of the Jewish state, then the Left does not need to do anything.

On the other side, if the Right or Center wants to take a crack at really solving some of Israel's core problems - rather than simply managing them on a tactical basis - then it is up to the Right or Center to adopt a plan that solves these problems.

Broadly stated, in politics, there is no absolute requirement to adopt a reasonable, realistic, responsible, constructive or useful position; politicians who want to actually solve a problem, however, need to adopt positions that will work.

Anonymous said...

I think Ari Shavit's piece is strikingly good. He puts his finger precisely on where the left lost people like me, and he understands what's wrong with the left now — its tendency to blame Israel for its own faulty understanding of reality and to separate itself from Israel rather than embrace it and work with it. The only important thing he leaves out is his idea of a solution: How Israel stops occupying a people who think being occupied is their secret weapon.

Anonymous (Mar 6 5:10 am) gives the right answer to your question, Yaakov. I would add that for Shavit it's the left's task because he still believes in the left — he wants it to succeed. I suspect that the old left aren't capable of the changes he demands. It may require a new generation of left-realists to take over. In which case, I hope they exist.

Paul M