Thursday, 12 February 2009

The 2009 elections: a new stage in the isolation of Israel

From Yossi Schwartz, an Israeli anti-Zionist left-wing activist:

Yossi Schwartz argues that the recent Israeli parliamentary elections marks the final death of the Israeli left, which has been one of the pillars of occupation and ethnic cleansing, and usher in a new stage in the isolation of Zionism and Israel.

The result of the elections in Israel signal the death of “left Zionism” and the victory of the right and the extreme right.

Accordong to Israeli journalist and “left-wing” commentator Gideon Levi,
The Israeli left died in 2000. Since then its corpse has been lying around unburied until, finally, its death certificate was issued, signed, sealed and delivered on Tuesday [10 February]. The hangman of 2000 was also the gravedigger of 2009: Defence Minister Ehud Barak. The man who succeeded in spreading the lie about there being no partner for peace has reaped the fruit of his deeds in this election. The funeral was held two days ago.

The Israeli left is dead. For the past nine years it took the name of the peace camp in vain. The Labour Party, Meretz and Kadima had pretensions of speaking in its name, but that was trickery and deceit. Labour and Kadima made two wars and continued to build Jewish settlements in the West Bank; Meretz supported both wars. Peace has been left an orphan. The Israeli voters, who have been misled into thinking that there is no one to talk to and that the only answer to this is force -- wars, targeted killings and settlements -- have had their say clearly in the election: a closing-down sale for Labour and Meretz. It was only the force of inertia that gave these parties the few votes they won.
We can agree with Levi that the Zionist left, including Meretz, deserve their death; they brought it onto themselves, but not in the last decade as Gideon claims. The very concept of “left Zionism” was a fraud from the very beginning. It was the Zionist left who raised the racist slogans “Jewish Labour” and “Redemption of the land”, anti-Arab worker and peasant slogans aimed at expelling Arab workers and of stealing the land of the peasants. It was the Zionist left that helped the British break and destroy the 1936-39 Palestinian uprising. It was the Zionist left that committed as many massacres as the right against the Arabs in 1947-48 in the &&i&Nakba&. It was the Zionist left who planned the war and occupation of 1967.

What is Zionism nowadays? An archaic and outdated concept born in a different age, a vague and delusive ideology occupying a grey area between the permitted and the proscribed. Does Zionism mean settlement in the territories? Occupation? The legitimization of every act of violence and injustice? The left stammered. Any statement critical of Zionism, even the Zionism of the occupation, was considered a taboo that the left did not dare break. The right grabbed a monopoly on Zionism, leaving the left with its self-righteousness.

A Jewish and democratic state? The Zionist left said yes automatically, fudging the difference between the two and not daring to make either a priority. The legitimization of every war? The Zionist left stammered again -- yes to the beginning and no to the continuation, or something like that. Solving the refugee problem and the right of return? Acknowledgement of the wrongdoing of 1948? Unmentionable. This left has now, rightly, reached the end of its road

The point that Levi fails to grasp is that there was never a different left in Zionism. There was never a possibility to build in Palestine a Jewish state without expelling most of the Palestinians and stealing their land. Nor could a genuine left in Israel accept the concept of two states because two states would be based on the continuation of the evils of 1947-48.

The death of Meretz is ominous for the future of Hadash and Gush Shalom, both of which hold on to the Zionist state and thereby perform the role of loyal opposition.

There is a future for Palestinians who must struggle to survive. There is a future for the Jews who want to live in this country as equals and not as colonialists. It is a future of joining the Arab working class revolution that will form in this country a Palestinian workers’ republic as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East.

Zionism belongs to the dustbin of history. Yes, it can still make wars and kill many Palestinian children. But it is doomed, just as other, similar ideologies that existed in other places were doomed.

These days opposition to Zionism is growing all over the world. It is not any more the radicalized middle class alone that opposes Zionism but also a growing movement within the working classes, in the trade union movements in South Africa and Australia, Canada and Ireland.

The next government in Israel is likely to be of the right and the extreme fascist right. It will be a government that openly stands for a new war and more settlements, more stealing of the land and more brutality. It will a government that will isolate the Zionist state as never before.

On the surface, the recent elections make it look as if nothing new happened in the political landscape of Israel. Yet, they mark a new stage in the growing isolation of Israel in the region and in the entire world.

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