At last _Haaretz_—Israel’s left-wing daily that I’ve criticized on more than one occasion (here, here, or here, for instance)—has an editorial that I like. Appearing this week, it marks the retirement of left-wing Knesset member Haim Oron and describes the “entire Israeli left” as being at an “unprecedented nadir” and “in desperate need of a new path forward….”
Pleasant words, those.
Trying to account for what it calls the Israeli left’s “helplessness and hopelessness,” Haaretz adduces “the failure of Oron and Meretz [his party] to voice a clear-cut alternative” to what Haaretz calls “the murky right-wing wave that threatens to flood the country.” As for that “wave,” Haaretz describes it in terms of “the nationalistic, racist and anti-democratic legislation that [the right] is proposing almost unhindered in the Knesset.”
In other words—as usual—Haaretz portrays Israel in terms not distant from those used by the Israel Apartheid Week crowd. That habitual Israel-bashing led Marty Peretz—no friend of the Israel right—to assert regarding Haaretz last week that
many of its columnists are intellectual psychopaths…. If you want one reason for why the international press is so hostile to Israel, it is because the only paper foreign journalists read is Haaretz in English. It is an exemplar of Jewish self-hate, full of ridicule, righteousness, and loathing. Its circulation is going down, down, down.
Oh yes, _Haaretz_’s circulation—one thing the paper forgot to mention while lamenting the state of the Israeli left in general. The mournful editorial, that is, skips the fact that if the Israeli left as a whole is a sinking ship, Haaretz is going right down with it.
As for why that should be so, Haaretz, of course, doesn’t have a clue. In addition to the left’s supposed failure to “voice a clear-cut alternative” to the right, the editorial lamely attributes the left’s decline to “the fact that Oron focused in his work mainly on economic and social issues” while “the fight against the occupation was secondary….”
“The occupation” refers, of course, to Israel’s presence in the West Bank—something most Israelis hardly want to “fight against,” especially now that Israel’s removal of “the occupation” of Gaza has resulted in six straight years of rocket and mortar fire on Israeli communities.
But if Haaretz really wanted to cast around for reasons for the left’s unpopularity, it could consider, for instance, a recent Israeli news item about Amos Oz and Marwan Barghouti. Oz is a septuagenarian, Israel Prize-winning, Nobel-candidate Israeli writer. Barghouti was one of the major leaders of the genocidal Palestinian onslaught known as the Second Intifada, now serving a life term on five counts of murder.
But what is strange—or maybe not so strange, considering that he’s a lifelong leftist—is that Oz now wants to send Barghouti something close to a love letter. Oz’s acclaimed autobiography, A Tale of Love and Darkness, has been translated into Arabic. Oz has asked another Israeli leftist to bring Barghouti a copy of the book in prison, bearing this personal dedication:
This story is our story. I hope you read it and understand us better, as we attempt to understand you. Hoping to meet soon in peace and freedom.
Earth to Haaretz: Israelis, as they scamper with their children into shelters while the rocket-alarms sound, don’t like this kind of thing. We don’t like writers who feel a kinship with terrorists and long to see them free, nor the left-wing culture that spawns such bizarre and sinister sentiments.
And as for that other leftist, the one Oz requested to bring his present to Barghouti for him…it’s none other than Haim Oron, the pol whose imminent retirement prompted _Haaretz_’s editorial. Oron is, in fact, a regular visitor of Barghouti and a constant advocate of his release, bloody hands and all.
Blaming the ongoing aggression on “the occupation”—that is, on Israel. Vilifying Israel while lionizing terrorists. Providing an endless stream of Israel-bashing fodder to ignorant and malevolent foreign media. These are not some of Israelis’ favorite things.
Until the Israeli left starts to understand that—and whether it can understand it is doubtful, since understanding it would entail abrogating its identity—it will continue to sink.
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