The historic contradictions of the Zionist Left are being played out in the death throes of Meretz
The historic contradictions of the Zionist Left are being played out in the death throes of Meretz
no more be a Zionist and a Socialist than you can be a Carnivore and a Vegan
Below is an article from Gideon Levy. Gideon is one of the few, lonely voices of sanity in an Israel that has veered to the lunatic far-right. In his article Levy describes the terminal
decline of the Zionist left as represented by Meretz, the Civil Rights Party. Also worth reading is Ron Calili’s Meretz,
Israel’s ‘Zionist Left’ Party, Is Finished
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, the settlers’ radio
station, the Leader of the Israeli Labour Party at the
time, Shelly Yacimovich complained that calling the ILP a left-wing party was ‘a historical injustice’. On the contrary ‘Labor has always drawn its power from
being a centrist party.’Shelly
Yacimovich: Labor Is Not a Left-wing Party
Histadrut Poster in the 1930’s urged Jewish housewives to only buy ‘Jewish’ water melons
I agree. It would indeed be an injustice to pretend that the Israeli
Labour Party has ever been left-wing. Indeed it is a wicked calumny. Only fools or liars such as Emily Thornberry, would ever subscribe to such
nonsense (I cannot decide which she is though I tend to the latter).
As Holocaust survivor and Hebrew University Professor Zeev Sternhell showed in his book The
Founding Myths of Israel the ILP was never a socialist party. In 1930 the two existing Labour Zionist
parties, Ahdut Ha’avodah and Hapoel Hatzair united to form Mapai, the Israeli
Labour Party. Ahdut was the direct descendant
of the right-wing of the ‘Marxist’ Poale Zion and Hapoel Hatzair was an
avowedly non-socialist party of Zionist labour and Yosef Trumpeldor. It preached ‘constructivism’. Hapoel Hatzair only agreed to the merger when it was satisfied that the
‘socialism’ of Ahdut was purely verbal and secondary to its Zionism. The class unity of Jewish workers with the
Jewish bourgeoisie was a sine qua non of Zionism and far more important than ideas of class struggle and unity with
Poale Zion and Ahdut were bitterly opposed to any idea of class unity with the Arab working class. This came up repeatedly because there were some Jewish workers who genuinely believed in the ‘socialism’ of Zionism. Zionism was about class unity with the Jewish bourgeoisie who were financing the kibbutzim. This issue of class solidarity with Arab workers had split Palestinian Poale Zion before World War I, indeed at its first Palestinian conference in 1906.
The Zionists are fond of saying that the Arabs want to drive Israel’s Jews into the sea. In fact the only people who were literally driven into the sea were the Arabs of Haifa in 1948, many of whom drowned
It was a certain von Plehve, Minister of Interior in the Czarist government and organiser of the Kishinev and other pogroms against Russia’s Jews in 1903, who in a visit to London described Zionism, which he supported, as an ‘antidote to socialist doctrines.‘ [Interview Lucien Wolfe, The Times, 6.2.04.]
Even the very term ‘socialist Zionist’ is an
oxymoron. A socialist believes in the class
struggle, opposing racism, colonialism and oppression. Socialism is about a society where the ownership
and control of wealth is in the hands of those who produce it not the few who
own it. Socialism is about unity of the
working class and the oppressed regardless of religion, ethnicity, colour or national
origin. Zionism is about the
unity of Jewish people regardless of class.
Ilan Gilon and Zahava Galon – Meretz MKs
These are simple things really. Socialism is about universal values and the
common struggles of humanity. Zionism is about particularism and Jewish
chauvinism. In Palestine
David Ben Gurion, the leader of Labour Zionism and Chair of the Jewish
Agency in the 1930’s and the first Prime Minister of Israel coined the
slogan ‘From class to nation’. In other words the class struggle of the
Jewish workers was transformed into the national struggle against Arab workers. See Histadrut:
Israel’s racist “trade union”
Socialist or Labour Zionism is predicated on colonisation
and nationalism. The first question it
asks is not whether something is good for the workers or humanity but whether
it is good for the Jews. Socialist Zionism is bourgeois Zionism dressed up in social
democratic and collectivist language.
But today even this is not true.
The Israeli Labour Party has abandoned any pretence of being on the
left, even verbally.
David Ben Gurion, Israeli Labour Prime Minister who effected the transfer of 3/4 million Palestinians in 1948
Labour Zionism built the Israeli
state. Labour Zionism pioneered the
settlement of the land via its collective agricultural settlements, the
Kibbutzim, which were stockade and
watchtower collectives that excluded all non-Jews. The kibbutzim were established at first on land bought
from absentee Arab landlords. The
indigenous peasants were then evicted from the land and because of the policies of Jewish
Labour they were not reemployed on the land as
was traditional in most colonial societies. Thus the Palestinian refugee
situation began from the start of the second Aliyah in 1904. Until
1948, there was an internal refugee
problem in Palestine. It was only in
1947/8 with the onset of ethnic cleansing and the Naqba that the refugee
situation was externalised and the Palestinians were expelled not only from the
economy but from the land altogether.
is not a matter of speculation or partisan propaganda. In response to the
Arab riots of 1929 the British Government sent out to Palestine first the Shaw
Commission, which in turn recommended a further Inquiry into the causes of the
riots. Thus in 1930 the Hope Simpson Commission under Sir John Hope
Simpson went out. Its Report was titled Immigration,Land Settlement and Development and
was issued in October 1930 along with the Passfield White Paper implementing
its recommendations (which Ramsay MacDonald promptly nullified in an infamous
letter to the Zionist Organisation).
It’s conclusions were devastating. They found that despite the warm words of the Zionists about how much they valued
the Arabs, their policies were designed to exclude them from all employment and
labour. Indeed the Labour Zionists were going out of their way to force the existing colonies of the Palestine Jewish Colonisation Agency (PICA), which had been founded in 1891 by Baron Maurice de Hirsch, to dismiss their Arab workers and replace them by Jewish workers.
Apartheid and the colour bar was at the heart of Labour Zionism. Whereas the Revisionist Zionists were happy to employ Arabs as cheap labour, the Labour Zionists fought to exclude Arabs regardless of cost. Of course the socialist answer would have been for Jewish-Arab workers to combine to fight for high wages but such unity was anathema to the Labour Zionists. This is important to understand. Historically Labour Zionism was more racist than its ‘right-wing’ Zionist opponents.
Ben Gurion, who was the Chairman of Histadrut railed against Moshe Smilansky of the Farmers Federation who, for the sake of narrow calculations of ‘petty profit’ preferred to hire Arab labour.
it is for this petty
profit, not a twentieth of net income, that he would foist on the colonies
the evil of mixed labour, which can only provoke trouble on
national and social fronts alike
To the Labour Zionists ‘mixed labour’ was an evil. Clearly the idea of joint working class unity was alien to Labour Zionism. In
its submission to the Hope-Simpson Inquiry the General Federation of Hebrew Labour,
Histadrut (which excluded Arabs from membership) wrote that:
Jewish Labour Movement considers the Arab population as an integral element in
this country. It is not to be thought of that Jewish settlers should displace
this population, nor establish themselves at its expense. This would not only
be impossible both from the political and economic standpoint, but it would run
counter to the moral conception lying at the root of the Zionist movement.
Jewish immigrants who come to this country to live by their own labour regard
the Arab working man as their compatriot and fellow worker, whose needs are
their needs and whose future is their future.”
Here you see an early
example of Zionist hasbara at its finest. Zionist leaders would proclaim for all to
hear the exact opposite of that which they were doing. These ‘socialist’ Zionists would quite happily say that ‘It is not to be thought of that Jewish settlers should displace this
population, nor establish themselves at its expense.’ even whilst they were pursuing exactly this policy! To
understand Zionism you need to understand that historically it has always
proclaimed its adherence to peace whilst waging war. Indeed to understand
Zionism it is best to assume the exact opposite of what it says.
It is worth quoting
from this Report, the most important description of Zionist colonisation in Palestine that the British ever produced. It explains succinctly how the policy of Labour Zionism immiserated the Arab workers and thus were responsible for the Arab riots of 1929.
The effect of the
Zionist colonisation policy on The Arab:— Actually
the result of the purchase of land in Palestine by the Jewish National Fund has
been that land has been extra-territorialised. It ceases to be land from which
the Arab can gain any advantage either now or at any time in the future. Not
only can he never hope to lease or to cultivate it, but, by the stringent
provisions of the lease of the Jewish National Fund, he is deprived for ever
from employment on that land. Nor can anyone help him by purchasing the land
and restoring it to common use. The land is in mortmain and inalienable. It is
for this reason that Arabs discount the professions of friendship and good will
on the part of the Zionists in view of the policy which the Zionist
Organisation deliberately adopted. (my emphasis)
Policy contrary to
Article 6 of Mandate.—….The principle of the
persistent and deliberate boycott of Arab labour in the Zionist colonies is not
only contrary to the provisions of that article of the Mandate, but it is in
addition a constant and increasing source of danger to the country. At the
moment this policy is confined to the Zionist colonies, but the General
Federation of Jewish Labour is using every effort to ensure that it shall be
extended to the colonies of the P.I.C.A., and this with some considerable
who seriously wants to understand why there was such bitterness and antagonism
between the Zionist settlers and the Palestinian Arabs can do no worse than
read the Hope-Simpson Report which is widely available online.
early mode of Zionist colonisation necessitated that it be carried out collectively as
the most efficient mode. This was incidentally true in the American and South African settler colonies. Settlements could only be defended on a
collective basis. Private enterprise was incapable of building up the
institutions necessary to create the Zionist framework of the future Israeli
state. It was because collectivism was the most efficient and effective
method of colonisation that it was the bourgeois Zionists who helped fund the
Labour Zionist settlements. As Ben-Gurion remarked:
making so many opening for Jews, has done great things and the Jewish worker
must not decry its importance and advantage for the Yishuv. But however private
his capital, a settler can only possess his land by grace of Zionism and its
work. Take away the resources of Jewry, its help and protection which buttress
the Yishuv and no Jew here can enjoy peace or property. (Rebirth & Destiny, p. 76, 1954)
In the diaspora things were different. The contradiction between the fight against
capitalism, poverty and anti-Semitism was at its sharpest in Poland and Russia. Zionism, with its dreams
of colonisation, was irrelevant. In the words of Zionist historian, Dr Noah Lucas, ‘Zionism came into direct conflict
with the. Jewish proletariats’ perceived interest. It was in this context that
the ideas of socialist Zionism were formulated.’ [A Modern History of Israel, p. 35]
This was the
context in which Poale Zion groups formed in Europe at the beginning of
the 20th century, primarily in competition with the much larger and
more influential Bund, a Jewish anti-Zionist party.
In the Soviet Union Poale Zion ended up
joining the Bolshevik revolution and it fought as the Borochov Brigade. It
effectively abandoned Zionism because the essence of Zionism is about postponing
the class struggle until the achievement of a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism no longer had any relevance because Zionism believed that the struggle in the
diaspora was futile because Jews did not belong there in the first place.
The World Union of Poale Zion split into two at its fifth
world congress in Vienna in 1920. The
disagreement was on the priority accorded to socialism. Left Poale Zion refused to join the World
Zionist Organisation, seeing it as a bourgeois movement. Right Poale Zion moved away from socialism altogether.
Palestinian Poale Zion because it was involved in colonisation moved swiftly to the Right. Ze’ev Sternhell describes the battles in the
1920’s between the left kibbutzim of the work brigades, Gdud Avodah and the
right-wing kibbutzim which centred on Kibbutz Ein Harod. The former were starved out by Histadrut and the Labour Zionists.
In Palestine Poale Zion split into two in 1919
and members of Left Poale Zion ended up forming the Jewish Communist Party.
Right Poale Zion became the main engine of Zionist colonisation and Ahdut Ha’avodah.
In Poland where the struggle against fascism
and anti-Semitism was at its sharpest Poale Zion split into two with Left Poale
Zion drifting away from Zionism. Right
Poale Zion, which was smaller, became more and more irrelevant.
Left Poale Zion’s most famous member was Emanuel Ringleblum, the chronicler of the Warsaw
The Jewish Labour Movements Director Ella Rose was a direct transfer from the Israeli Embassy
Today in Britain the only function of Labour
Zionism is as an agent of the Israeli government inside the Labour Party. The
Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel are essentially Trojan
horses for the Right. They have no class politics. They are thoroughly Blairite organisations. The JLM and LFI have
been the main engines of the false anti-Semitism smears against the Left.
When the JLM balloted in the 2016 leadership
election, they voted 92-4% for Smith.
The wonder is that even 4% voted for Corbyn!
The main target of the Zionist JLM is not British fascists or racists but the former leader of the Greater London Authority, Ken Livingstone, a pioneer of anti-racism in local government
It is clear today that Labour Zionism doesn’t
even have a trace of radicalism left. Although the support of the Tribune left
of the 1950’s for Israel was part and parcel of its overall support for
colonialism, something that the Labour Party as a whole had been guilty of, at least at that time this Labour Zionist left was a component of the Left
in the party. Figures like Ian Mikado,
Tom Driberg, Jo Richardson and even Michael Foot combined support for Israel and
a version of socialism.
The Jewish Labour Movement, an affiliated socialist society of the Labour Party occupies its far-Right anti-Corbyn wing. Seen here at the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street when Jewish socialists, communists and non-Jewish workers prevented Moseley’s British Union of Fascists marching. At the time the Zionists together with the Board of Deputies OPPOSED confronting the Police who were protecting the British Union of Fascists but 70 years on they claim the credit that belongs to their political anti-Zionist opponents
The alliance with the Left in the Labour Party (& indeed outside it) died with the Lebanon war in 1982. It was now clear that Israel which was the
major watchdog of imperialism in the Middle East. Both Tony Benn and Eric Heffer resigned from Labour
Friends of Israel.
Historically it had been Labour’s Right that had been sympathetic with the Arabs and the Palestinians. Pro-Arabists such as Christopher Mayhew, Andrew Faulds and David Watkins were
all on Labour’s Right. Tony Blair
changed that. With New Labour support
for Israel as the imperialist war horse was almost an article of faith.
Jeremy Newmark, former Chair of the JLM who led the witchhunt of left-wing anti-racists. He has since resigned under a cloud of suspicion after being accused by the Jewish Chronicle of fraud. He is currently under police investigation for financial malpractice at the JLM
The contradiction between socialism and
Zionism has been resolved wholly in favour of the latter. The only function in Britain and other
countries of Labour Zionism is as apologists for the Israeli state. Formally affiliated
to the Israeli Labour Party, which they describe as their sister party, the JLM and LFI effectively act as the
mouthpieces of the Netanyahu government. It is noticeable that when Netanyahu positioned snipers in Gaza to murder 120 Palestinians and injure 14,000, Labour Friends of Israel immediately tweeted its support blaming the Palestinians for their own deaths.
Labour Friends of Israel could not find a word of criticism, still less condemnation, of the use of live ammunition against Palestinian civilians. If this had been Jewish demonstrators in Israel ordinary riot control methods would have been used
Not one word of criticism was made by either
organisation of the mass murder of unarmed Palestinians by the Israeli
army. If one hadn’t known better, one would have assumed that the
killings must have been carried out by Hamas. Their racist statements
denied agency to Palestinians depicting them as pawns of the evil Hamas.
It was a classic example of the conspiracy theory.
Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger, part of the white lynch mob of MPs who marched to Marc Wadsworth’s Kangaroo Court which expelled him – both MPs are on the anti-Corbyn wing of Labour
It was only after a massive backlash that LFI’s tweets were withdrawn and a
which still blamed Hamas (which is code for Palestinians) was issued. The idea of condemning unreservedly the
actions of the Israeli troops was and is anathema to these Labour apologists
The reasons for LFI’s predicament are
simple. Politically there is no
difference between the ILP and Netanyahu when it comes to the Palestinians. The ILP supported the massacre of
Palestinians in Gaza just as they have supported every war or armed
attack by Likud, from Lebanon to Gaza. Recently
the ILP supported
Netanyahu’s attempt to deport the Black African refugees from Israel on the
grounds that they weren’t genuine refugees and because they are both Black and
In the same way the ILP has supported the
barring of Israeli Arabs from most Jewish communities and villages (the
Reception Committee Law).
Poster of MAPAM – the United Workers of Zion
What then of what is left of the Zionist Left,
that is Meretz? Meretz was formed in
1992 by a merger of 3 parties – Ratz, the civil rights party, Shinui – a centre
party of Amnon Rubinstein and Mapam, the United Workers Party. Today it has 5 seats in the Knesset. In 2015 Meretz was unsure, because of a change
in the law that had been designed to eliminate the Arab parties, the threshold
for representation in the Knesset having been raised from 2% to 3.5%, whether they
would gain representation. In the end
they managed to slip in.
The late Shulamit Aloni – founder of Ratz and then Meretz – former Education Minister until ousted by Rabin at the instigation of the religious parties. A dedicated feminist and anti-racist who effectively abandoned Zionism towards the end of her life
The history of the Zionist left is best
described by the number of seats they have gained in Israel’s Knesset over the past 70 years. In the first Knesset
elections in 1949 Mapam stood with Ahdut Ha’avodah and gained the second
highest number of seats, 19. In 1951 Mapam
gained 15 seats. During the 1955
elections Mapam and Ahdut Ha’avoda had split in two.
Mapam gained 9 seats and Ahdut 10 making a total of 19. In 1959
and 1961 Mapam retained their 9 seats but Ahdut dropped to 7 and 8 respectively.
From then on Ahdut disappeared or rather united with Mapai. Ahdut, incidentally, which contained figures like Yisrael Galili, Yitzhak Tabenkin and Yigal Allon, became the most militaristic and racist element of Mapai and it is no accident that the first two became founder members of Gush Emunim, the Greater Israel Movement after 1967.
In 1965 Mapam gained 8 seats. From 1969 to 1984 Mapam was part of the Israeli
Labour Alignment. In 1988 it stood separately again and gained
just 3 seats. In 1992, as part of Meretz
it gained 12 seats, a historic high.
From then on it was all downhill – in 1996, 9 seats; in 1999, 10 seats;
in 2003, 6 seats; in 2006, 5 seats; in 2009, 3 seats; in 2013, 6 seats; in
2015, 5 seats.
Between 1973 and 1988,
Ratz stood as a separate party and gained 3,1,1, 3 and 5 seats. Shinui stood between 1981 and 1988 and gained 2, 3 and 2 seats respectively, so that in 1988 the combined total of the 3 separate parties was 10 seats. In the past 30 years the strength of the Zionist left has
halved and in the 70 years since the formation of the Israeli state it has
decreased by a factor of 4. This is the context
for Gideon Levy’s article.
However the seeds of the political degeneration of the Zionist
left, as represented by Mapam, began far earlier. Until 1948 it had, on paper at least,
supported a bi-national not a Jewish state, but in practice it had been
wholly in support of the racist policies of Histadrut and the ILP. Its members formed the backbone of the shock
troops of the Labour Zionist movement, Palmach in 1947/8. It was Mapam members– Yigal Allon, Yitzhak Sadeh, Moshe Carmel and
others – who led Palmach’s ethnic cleansing in the Nakba.
Mapam entered the 1948 coalition government with a
radically different policy towards Arab civilians from that being pursued by David
Ben-Gurion. Mapam’s executive committee advocated Jewish–Arab coexistence,
opposed the expulsion of civilians and was in favour of the right of refugees
to return to their homes after the war.… At a Mapai Centre
meeting, 24 July 1948, Ben-Gurion accused Mapam of hypocrisy, citing events at Mishmar HaEmek, he said:
“They faced a cruel reality … [and]
saw that there was [only] one way and that was to expel the Arab villagers and
burn the villages. And they did this, And they were the first to do this.“
Mapam was also opposed to the
establishment of settlements on Arab land. But this created a dilemma as the
kibbutz movement ideologically closest to Mapam, Kibbutz
Artzi, was in the vanguard of the settlement movement. Of twelve new
settlements created during May and June 1948 six were Mapam-related groups. … In
the following months Mapam further diluted its
position on the right of refugees to return by adding that there should be no
return while a state of war existed and then it should only apply to the
In November 1948, Eliezer Peri, the
editor of Mapam’s newspaper Al Hamishmar, received a letter describing a
massacre at al-Dawayima. Benny Morris estimated that there were ‘hundreds’ of
dead. [Survival of the
Fittest, Ha’aretz 8.1.04.] Agriculture
Minister, Aharon Cisling referred to a letter he had received about the
atrocities from Eliezer Kaplan, declaring: ‘I
couldn’t sleep all night … This is something that determines the character of
the nation … Jews too have committed Nazi acts.’ [The Birth of the Palestine
Refugee Problem Revisited, p.488., Benny Morris]
Cisling agreed that publicly Israel must admit nothing; but the matter must be
thoroughly investigated. ‘The children
they killed by breaking their heads with sticks. There was not a house without
dead’, wrote Kaplan, the Jewish Agency [JA] Treasurer and later Minister of
The Political Committee was
briefed on 11 November 1948 by the recently ousted Chief of Staff of the
Haganah, Yisrael Galili, about the killing of civilians during Operations Yoav
and Hiram. Aharon Cohen led a call for an independent inquiry. [Falsifying the Record: A
Fresh Look at Zionist Documentation of 1948, Benny Morris Journal of Palestine
Studies, Vol. 24, No. 3. (Spring, 1995), pp. 44-62].
The problem was that the commanders of these operations were senior Mapam
members, Yitzhak Sadeh and Moshe Carmel. Ben-Gurion however was opposed to any
investigations of atrocities committed by Israel’s military.
In December party co-leader, Meir
Ya’ari, publicly criticised
the IDF for using the expulsion of civilians as
an “imperative of strategy”. This was probably directed at Mapam
Allon, who had been chief of operations during Operation
The history of the Zionist left has been a history of retreat from socialist principles in favour of Zionist chauvinism and exclusivism. It has been a history of hypocrisy, saying one thing and doing another. But in Israel today there is no need for a left-Zionist group. It appeals only to those intellectuals and academics, a tiny section of the Jewish intellectual elite who still fondly imagine that the Zionist dream can be reconciled with universalist principles. It is a losing struggle.
Today what is left of the Zionist left is a phantom because it has no objective reason for existing anymore. Zionism and Israel have moved on. Zionism has no ideological need any longer to maintain one face for socialist and labour parties abroad and another for the home audience. Israel today is the most right-wing and racist society on the planet. Just 8% of Israelis even identify as leftists. Indeed the very term ‘leftist’ is a term of abuse in Israel. That is why it is an utter disgrace that the apologists for apartheid are still affiliated to the British Labour Party.
The left is bleeding on the floor. The worst advice
that can be given to the left right now is the kind that is being offered: to
lean more to the right, to repress itself more, to lie more
Levy Mar 29, 2018
Tamar Zandberg celebrating after being chosen to be the new leader of the left-wing Meretz party on March 22.Meged Gozani
dead don’t commit suicide. It’s too late. A terminally ill person usually finds
it difficult to take his own life too, even “shooting himself in the foot” is
hard for him. That’s how it is in life, and in death. All the lamenting about
the “suicidal left” as described by Nehemia Shtrasler (Haaretz in Hebrew, March
27), simulates a non-existent reality: there is a left in Israel, it’s about to
thrive, and then it commits suicide.
there’s hardly any left, it’s certainly not thriving, so it is incapable of
committing suicide. The left itself may be partly to blame for its dying, but
not because it’s “going ho to destroy
every possibility of winning,” or because it “excels at killing its leaders,” or because it doesn’t lie
enough like the right, as Shtrasler notes with envy. The Zionist left has lost
its way, it has nothing unique to offer, it is less different than the right
than it seems, it has no worthy leadership and it is up against a system of
brainwashing and de-legitimization.
is why it lies bleeding on the floor. The
Zandberg affair – in which the new Meretz leader
used a campaign consultant who previously worked for the far right, then lied
about it – could serve as a positive reminder of what the left should and could
have done: fought for its uniqueness. Not suicide.
worst advice that can be given to the left right now is the kind that is being
offered: to lean more to the right, to use the right’s consultants, to practice
the right’s methods, to move further to the center, to repress itself more, to
lie more, because that’s what everyone does. Even the advice to open its ranks to
new groups is hollow. They too must be approached with something new, not with
more of the same. The harsh attack on Tamar Zandberg was a reminder that the
dying left still has enough libido to rise up and say: We are not the right;
neither in content nor method.
Tamar Zandberg, new Meretz leader elected under a cloud
Zionist left has an almost genetic structural problem — the awful contradiction
between the left and Zionism, certainly in the reality of the Zionist apartheid
of 2018 and the deliberate blurring of the term Zionism. The Zionist left is
trying as hard as it can to hide the contradiction, cover it up, blur it,
repress and deny it – but it doesn’t have a chance. As long as it sticks to its
Zionism and as long as that Zionism is by definition a non-egalitarian
ideology, which deprives, dispossesses, evicts and occupies, grants privileges
to only one part of the country’s residents and not the other – that left
cannot be a left. It’s merely a softer, more moderate right, a more restrained
and liberally-styled version of the nationalist right.
is not enough. The voter will always prefer the original, which is more
authentic. That’s the deceptive web of lies in which the left is enshrouded,
and it will be removed only if it touches the truth courageously and draws the
necessary conclusions. It can’t have both – it’s one or the other. That’s also
why the left is less resolved in its struggle than the right. On the Shomron
hills in the West Bank Israelis are fighting for a cause that is clear; on
Rothschild Boulevard they’re not. Not only because of temperament and
self-indulgence issues, but because of the blurred path they are on.
Labor Party is of course the mother of this deception, the mother of all sin,
but Meretz, most of whose leaders still insist on defining themselves as
Zionists, is also a partner to the treachery. Are they jealous of Naftali
Bennett and Habayit Hayehudi? There they speak the truth. A fascist truth, but
the truth. They don’t sweep it under the rug. That’s why the future is there.
The Zionist left wants to have the best of all worlds – both Zionism and
egalitarian humanism – and ends up losing them all.
humanism is not possible in an occupying country, with military oppression in
its back yard. That’s why this left has no chance, with or without Moshe
Klughaft. Zandberg and her party members are filled with good intentions to
change the situation, to stop the deportation of asylum seekers, to increase
equality for Israel’s Arabs, safeguard the courts and even end the occupation
in the framework of a two-state solution. But they want to remain Zionists. And
that doesn’t work. It’s an oxymoron.
New Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg on March 23, 2018.Meged Gozani
Tamar Zandberg, go home. You proved that everything they say about the
left is true. From the start, I thought that most of your public appearances in
various forums were dedicated to trivial issues such as legalizing marijuana,
rather than fighting corruption and making peace with the Palestinians. But now
— after it turned out that you used
the services of Moshe Klughaft, a political strategist known for his
anti-left campaigns; dissembled when asked about it, according to your
interview with the Kalman-Liberman radio show on Reshet Bet Sunday morning and
in fact openly lied — go home. If you stay at the helm of Meretz, you’ll
underscore the arguments of opponents of the left: The left is irresponsible,
it likes the easy life, it’s hypocritical, it lies and takes shortcuts it
wouldn’t allow anyone else to take. And so, you must free us from you and your
I’ve been a Meretz voter for a very long time, but if you head it I will
no longer give the party my vote. For liars who feign innocence, for people who
hire the creators of incitement campaigns and then lie about it, I don’t need
to vote Meretz. I can vote for any other party with less pretense and a greater
likelihood of becoming part of the decision-making process in this country.
Voting for Meretz is like being a fan of a soccer team that never wins.
It’s difficult, exhausting and rooted in a belief in the justness of the cause,
together with a belief in the integrity of its thought — and certainly in the
integrity of those who lead it. I believed in the integrity of Shulamit Aloni,
I believed in the integrity of Yossi Sarid, I believed in the integrity of
Zehava Galon, and I do not believe in your integrity. It wasn’t enough that you
used Klughaft’s services so you could learn from him how to use his morally
corrupt tools; you then lied about it.
It doesn’t matter a bit whether you paid him or not, whether he led your
party primary campaign or merely poured poison into the ears of those who took
part in it. This is hair-splitting that is worthy of other politicians, the
kind with which I thought you had nothing in common. Your saying he was not
paid for his advice only makes it worse, since it means he volunteered for you.
Soon you’ll be telling us that it’s all right for politicians to accept gifts
Your kind is a dime a dozen in Israeli politics. People of the true left,
whose only remaining asset was their honesty and their faith in their leaders,
feel, in the wake of this affair, that they were robbed even of this. Don’t dig
in your heels. If you genuinely want the good of the party, submit your
resignation today, call for a new party primary and do not put yourself forward
as a candidate. All your good points, and you undoubtedly have them, are
dwarfed by your lies.
“Hi this is Shelly. Spot the
differences: education minister and member of the diplomatic-security cabinet
Yigal Allon moves apartments.”
In an attempt to criticize Prime Minister Netanyahu’s lavish
expenditures, Yachimovich, number three on
the Zionist Camp list, uploaded a photo of a letter written by Yigal Allon
— one of Israel’s revered military leaders and a central figure in the historic
Labor Party. The letter, which was written sometime in April 1969, is a request
by Allon that the furniture for his new state-owned apartment be imported from
his old one, so as to not to waste too much of the budget allocated to him as
Like many in her party, Yachimovich is nostalgic for the “good old days”
before Likud came to power in 1977, when Israeli leaders were known for their
humility. But these days weren’t exactly good for everyone.
Allon, perhaps more than any other person, can be seen as the architect
of the Nakba — the expulsion and dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians during
the 1948 war and the establishment of the State of Israel. As the commander of
the pre-state Palmach militia, he initiated a “whisper campaign” in April 1948
to terrify Palestinians into fleeing the eastern Galilee. Here is the plan
I gathered the Jewish mukhtars [elders from local kibbutzim and villages
– T.P.] who had connections with the different Arab villages, and I asked them
to whisper in the ears of several Arabs that giant Jewish reinforcements had
reached the Galilee and were about to clean out the villages in the Hula, [and]
to advise them, as friends, to flee while they could. And the rumor spread
throughout the Hula that the time had come to flee. The flight encompassed tens
of thousands. The stratagem fully achieved its objective.
But this was just the beginning. Allon served in the Galilee, where he
conquered the cities of Tiberias and Bisan; in the central area, where he
attacked Lydda and Ramle; and in the south, fighting the Egyptian army. And in
every place he went, as
his biographer writes, he did his
best “not only to conquer areas of Eretz Yisrael, but also to empty them from
In October, for instance, he ordered
transfer of Bedouin who were considered friendly to
the Zionist forces from the heart of the Negev to an area close to the Egyptian
Prime Minister Levy Eshkol (left) and Min. Yigal Allon (second from left) in the Negev, May 25, 1967. (Photo: GPO)
While documents from 1948 are beginning to be revealed, state archives
still limit our knowledge of another central event in early Israeli history –
of the Yemenite children. Allon’s
wife admitted that she and her husband went to a hospital and took
one of the children for their friends in a kibbutz. We still do not know who is responsible for taking these children
away from their biological parents, falsely claiming that they were dead, and
passing them on to adoptive families.
Perhaps Yachimovich is ignorant of Israeli history, and that of her own
party. But she must have read the letter that she herself posted. The letter
mentions that Allon’s new government-subsidized apartment is located in the Old
City of Jerusalem, which was conquered during the Six-Day War just two years
prior. According to the architect
who built the apartment, “there was
a will to put symbols of government in the Old City, in order to represent our
presence there.” Allon’s modest apartment was part of the strategy of annexing
large parts of the West Bank, which he himself promoted after 1967.
The historical legacy of today’s “centrist” Zionist Camp is based on the
expulsion of Palestinians and the repression of Mizrahim. As MK
Jamal Zahlaka of the Joint List once said:
“the Ashkenazim took Palestine from us, not the Mizrahim. It’s not the ones
saying “death to Arabs” who took the land from us. It’s the ones who said, ‘we
come in peace’ [‘Hevenu shalom aleichem’].”
Yigal Allon’s taste in furniture may have been admirable, but in
glorifying him, Yachimovich is only whitewashing his crimes.
Tom Pessah is an Israeli sociologist and activist, currently residing in