The Elections Are Not All Bad News As the Hypocritical Zionist ‘Left’ is All But Eliminated and Meretz Loses Its Last Representatives
It’s an ill wind that blows no good and so it is with Israel’s recent elections. While no one can be happy with the increase in the number of seats for Religious Zionism/Jewish Power from 6 to 14, making it the third largest bloc in the Knesset, at least now there can be no hiding behind the pretence of peace negotiations to justify the Occupation of Palestinian territories.
Apologists for Zionism, like the Board of Deputies will claim that what has happened is an aberration and that they are ‘gravely concerned’ at the election of Otzma Yehudit. In one sense they are gravely concerned but only at the damage to Israel’s reputation.
Labour Friends of Israel have gone one better in rationalising that it was ‘only’ 10% who voted for the fascists or that Israel is suffering from the same growth in the far-right as other countries and we should therefore not be surprised. This is a common phenomenon.
Keir Starmer, a ‘Zionist without qualification’ told Jewish News that the rise of Israeli far-right would not alter his belief in a ‘strong relationship between Britain and Israel’. For once I think he is telling the truth.
I suspect that if Israel were to announce a policy calling for the killing of Palestinian first-borns that Starmer’s faith in Britain’s relationship with Israel would be as strong as ever. Indeed he would probably praise Israel’s moderation in allowing the remainder of Palestinian children to live!
The phenomenon we have seen in Italy, Sweden and other European countries of a growing far-Right has nothing whatsoever to do with what we are seeing in Israel.
The growth of the European far-Right is caused by the influx of refugees, a result of Western wars in the Middle East and elsewhere and the resulting determination of to scapegoat them. It is compounded by the severe economic crisis affecting Europe, partly as a result of the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, which results in a competition for resources such as housing.
There is no connection whatever between Israel’s far-Right, whose origins lie in Zionism, Jewish Supremacy and settler colonisation and the growth of the far-Right in Europe and America.
Although it is always easy to label parties ‘fascist’, far-Right parties in Europe are, with some exceptions, not fascist. On this I disagree with those like Richard Silverstein who argues to the contrary. Fascism comes to power in order to defeat and destroy the organisations of the working class. It is accompanied by fighting squads. In Hitler’s Germany the first concentration camp Dachau was set up for communists and trade unionists in March 1933. The trades unions themselves were abolished and their offices occupied. In its place was established the Nazi Labour Front whose purpose was to control and discipline workers not to represent them. Likewise in Italy Mussolini came to power in order to smash the working class.
All the evidence in Europe is that a large section of a depoliticised working class is voting for the far-Right. Where once the Communist Party dominated Paris’s suburbs today their place has been taken by Marine Le Pen.
Whilst figures such as Le Pen and Giorgia Meloni are hostile to trade unions and working class struggles there is no indication that they are intent on setting up a police state which will abolish the unions and conscript the working class.
Israel’s far right is likewise not a fascist right. Indeed arguably it is worse than fascist. Its support comes to a large extent from Israel’s Jewish working class. Zionism like all forms of settler colonialism involves an alliance between the settler working class and ruling class. Ben Gvir is not advocating making Histadrut, the Jewish trade union illegal. Saying something is abhorrent or evil is not the same as fascism.
The racism directed against migrants, as we have seen with Suella Braverman over migration to Britain and the calamities at Manston, are not of the same order as Israeli racism. There has been a very welcome pushback against what has happened and Braverman visited the facility with her tail between her legs yesterday, chastened at the response to the appalling conditions there.
We do not have thousands of Italian or Swedish people chanting ‘death to refugees’. Yet this is a regular occurrence in Israel and when it does happen, as with the pogrom in Jerusalem last May, the Police attack the victims and defend the perpetrators.
Racism in Israel doesn’t originate in antagonism towards outsiders or refugees but from Zionism itself, the founding ideology of the state. That is why the position of the BOD and LFI is totally hypocritical. For years they have consciously ignored the racism inherent in an ethno-religious state.
It wasn’t Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit who said that ‘Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.’ but Prime Minister Netanyahu. It wasn’t Bezalel Smotrich of Jewish Home who said that Palestinians ‘are like animals, they aren’t human.’ but Rabbi Eli Dahan, who later became Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister and ran on the Likud ticket (albeit as a member of Jewish Home).
Racism in Israel is a consequence of settler colonialism not an influx of refugees or a legacy of past colonialism. Every single Zionist party from the ‘left’ Meretz to Likud subscribes to the idea of a Jewish state. People need to understand that the very concept of a ‘Jewish’ state is inherently racist. Zionist settler colonialism had, from its very foundations, ethnic cleansing built into it. How else to create a ‘Jewish’ state in a land where the majority of inhabitants were non-Jewish other than to expel the indigenous population?
It wasn’t Otzma Yehudit or Religious Zionism which drew up plans to ‘Judaise’ the Galilee, Jerusalem and the Negev but the Israeli Labor Party who subscribed to the Koenig Plan and the Judaisation (in Germany it was called Aryanisation) of the Galilee or the Prawer Plan in the Negev.
Both ‘left’ and ‘right’ Zionism were agreed about the fundamentals of Zionism. Where they differed were on tactics. In general the Labour Zionists understood the need to say one thing to their sponsors in the West whilst saying and doing different things in Israel itself.
There was an almighty row when Bezalel Smotrich called for the separation of Jewish and Arabs in maternity wards and all the hypocrites condemned him. It later turned out that a majority of Israeli hospitals do exactly what Smotrich was condemned. They too separate Jewish and Arab mothers in maternity wards.
Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, told the reporter that it couldn’t guarantee a segregated room but that the maternity staff always tries to keep Jews and Arabs separate. “We try not to mix,” even when patients don’t request it, a representative was recorded as saying.
The Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Labour Friends of Israel all call themselves Zionists. In that case they, along with Keir Starmer should be honest and accept that they are racists. The major difference between them and Ben Gvir is that for all his vicious racism, he is at least an honest racist.
This is why we should welcome the almost complete annihilation of the ‘left’ Zionist parties, the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz, whose only role has been to sanitise Israel’s ethnic cleansing. The ILP’s number of representatives has gone down from seven to four and Meretz has been eliminated completely.
Both Meretz and the ILP voted for the Citizenship Law that prevents the spouses of Israeli Palestinians who are from the West Bank obtaining Israeli residence and citizenship. Meretz voted for the apartheid law that extends civil law to Jewish settlers whilst at the same time putting Palestinians under military law. It even demanded that its sole Arab Knesset member, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, who voted against the law, resign from the Knesset.
For the first 30 years in Israel there were continuous Israeli Labour Party coalition governments. In 1949 Mapai (ILP) and Mapam, the forerunner of Meretz, obtained 65 out of a total of 120 seats in the Knesset. As late as 1992 under Yitzhak Rabin they gained 56 seats. Today they have just 4 seats. They prepared the way for the Right and in the process lost any reason to exist.
Why do I welcome their demise? Because it was the ‘left’ Zionists who kept alive the idea of a two state solution. The right-wing Zionists were open about their desire to colonise the whole of Mandate Palestine. Indeed before 1948 Herut, the forerunner of Likud, claimed both the West and East banks of the Jordan.
Nothing has enabled the settlement of the West Bank more than the illusion that a Palestinian state might be established. This despite the fact that at no time did either the ILP or Meretz call for an end to the Occupation or even the dismantlement of the settlements. Meretz/Mapam was always implacably opposed to Yesh Gvul and Israeli Jews who refused to serve in the Occupied Territories (with the honourable except of their founder, Shulamit Aloni).
Whatever their other virtues right-wing Zionists are at least honest about their intentions. They openly declare that there is no place for a Palestinian state.
Zionists in the West will mourn the disappearance of the Labour Zionists but they would do well to save their tears. No longer will it be possible to pretend that a negotiated solution is possible. No longer will an Israeli government be able to disguise its ethnic cleansing behind a smokescreen of excuses for an eventual Palestinian state.
The primary purpose of Labour Zionism today is to kosher right-wing Israeli governments abroad. Labour Zionism has been in steep decline since 1992 when it gained 56 seats. Even as late as 2015 the ILP and Meretz gained 29 seats but since then the decline has been meteoric.
No one who wishes to see an end to Israeli Apartheid should mourn their demise. 40 years ago I wrote, ‘Begin & Sharon Have Done Nothing that Labour Zionism didn’t do before them’. Thiswas no rhetorical flourish.
It wasn’t Herut (Likud) who organised the Nakba, the expulsion of over three-quarters of a million Palestinian refugees from their homeland nor was it right-wing Zionist militias who perpetrated the majority of the massacres that ‘encouraged’ the Palestinian refugees to flee. That was the Labour Zionist militias Haganah and Palmach.
In November 1948, Eliezer Peri, the editor of Mapam’s Al Hamishmar, received a letter describing a massacre at al-Dawayima on 29 October. Benny Morris estimated that there were hundreds dead. Agriculture Minister Aharon Zisling referred to a letter he had received declaring:
Mapam’s Political Committee was briefed by former Chief of Staff of the Haganah terror group, Yisrael Galili, about the killing of civilians during Operations Yoav and Hiram. Aharon Cohen, head of Mapam’s Arab Department, led a call for an independent inquiry. Their only problem was that the commanders of these operations were senior Mapam members, Yitzhak Sadeh and Moshe Carmel.
Likud’s crimes against the Palestinians were more than matched by their ‘socialist’ counterparts. In 1956 it was the Labour Zionists who presided over the massacre at Kafr Qasim when 53 villagers coming back from the fields were mown down with machine guns. A curfew had been imposed on the first day of the Suez war but the workers had not been informed before setting out for work.
The criminals who carried out the massacre were pardoned within the year and the Brigade Commander, Col. Shadmi was fined a symbolic 10 prutot, less than one cent.
With the release of the transcripts of the trial of the soldiers involved it has become clear that this was no rogue operation. The intention had been to ‘encourage’ another exodus of the Palestinians. Soldiers surrounded the village on three sides. The fourth leading to Jordan was left open in accordance with Operation Hafarperet, a plan to transfer the Arabs in the Little Triangle area, in the event of war, to Jordan. Israel’s Palestinians had, since 1948, been treated as a hostile fifth column and until 1966 they lived under martial law.
People in the West are surprised at the election of Ben Gvir, whose hero is Rabbi Meir Kahane. Kahane first gained a seat in 1984 standing for Kach, a Jewish Nazi party. Kach was banned from fighting the 1988 elections to the Knesset. However the reasons for the ban had nothing to do with his racism, quite the contrary. Kahane was resented because he said aloud what others preferred to hide. Kahane held up a mirror to the hypocrisy of both Labour and Likud.
Kahane was the honest Zionist who dared to say what others would only whisper. In August 1986 the Knesset passed, in response to Kahane’s election, an Anti-Racism Law which Kahane voted for! The reason being that while the law made ‘incitement to racism’ illegal, it exempted discrimination based on the grounds of religion or which was intended to preserve Israel’s ‘unique character.’ 
It is of course the ‘unique character’ of Israel as an ethno-religious state which necessitates discrimination against the Palestinians. The law has mainly been applied to Israeli Palestinians. Otherwise it has remained a dead letter.
Kahane punctured the hypocrisy of the Labour Zionists who pretended that Israel could be both a Jewish state and a democratic state. This oxymoron pretends that it is possible to grant Jewish citizens privileges such as sole access to 93% of Israeli land whilst at the same time maintaining a democratic society. Kahane was clear. Israel could either be a Jewish state or a democratic state, however it could not be both.
In 1985 the Knesset passed amendment 7A to the Basic Law: The Knesset preventing parties that incite racism from standing for election. It also prevented parties standing that denied the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish or a democratic state. The real reason for its passage had little to do with Kahane’s racism but with the fact that Kach was forecast to gain up to 12 seats in the 1988 election. This would have been a public relations disaster.
There is little doubt that we are entering a new stage with the election of a bloc of 14 Kahanists, overt racists and homophobes. Repression in the West Bank is intensifying as the 700,000 settlers gain a critical mass. This year has seen a massive increase in settler attacks such as the burning of olive groves and attacks on individual Palestinians. The Israeli army has not only refused to prevent such attacks but have accompanied and indeed participated in such attacks.
This has been accompanied by army attacks and assassinations in Jenin, Nablus and their closure. The battle for the land of Palestine is increasing as the settlers seek to further expand. The goal is first to transform the Palestinians into landless labourers, a long colonial tradition, and then to enact their transfer. This is where support for Religious Zionism comes in. It is a vote for ethnic cleansing, not only of the Palestinians of the Territories but Israel’s Palestinian citizens.
One of the major disappointments of the election was the decision of Hadash-Ta’al to force Balad, an Arab nationalist party out of the Joint list. Their primary reason was their desire to support from the outside the anti-Netanyahu coalition of Zionist parties. It proved a disaster. Hadash/Ta’al gained 5 seats, down 1 from 2021, whilst Balad just failed to clear the 3.25% barrier. Ironically it was this decision that gave Netanyahu a clear majority.
The number of seats gained by the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism increased from 16 to 18. As Israel becomes more overtly racist it is also becoming more religious. The bible is used to justify expulsion and racism. Traditionally seen as politically moderate, religious Zionists have now become more overtly messianic with the demand for the demolition of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque and their replacement by a Third Temple.
The presence of Religious Zionism in the governing coalition with a clutch of senior cabinet posts heralds a new era in Israeli politics. Religious Zionism is committed to expel Israel’s Palestinian citizens, which they disguise as the expulsion of ‘disloyal’ Arabs.
There will be those who will decry the description of Otzma Yehudit of Itamar Gvir as a Jewish Nazi party. However the programme of Kach, from which they take their inspiration, was clear. They called for prison sentences for “every Arab who has sexual relations with a Jewish woman.” This is straight from the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws. Also like Hitler, who opposed the prosecution of Jewish women who had relations with ‘Aryan’ men, Kach did not consider sexual relations between Jewish men and Arab women a crime.
The reaction of Israel’s friends in the West to the accession to power of a neo-Nazi party is one of open dismay. It is likely that pressure will be exerted on Netanyahu to form a coalition with the National Unity party of former chief of staff Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar, ex-Likud, in order to keep Religious Zionism at bay. The next few months will be devoted to the process of forming a coalition.
 +972 Magazine, 14.6.22. Meretz abandons its last core value, https://www.972mag.com/meretz-netanyahu-occupation-settler-law/
 Tribune 20.7.84.
 Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem Revisited, 2004, p. 488.
 Ibid., p. 470.
 Benny Morris, ‘Falsifying the Record: A Fresh Look at Zionist Documentation of 1948,’ Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 24:3. (Spring, 1995), pp. 44-62.
 Ha’aretz, 29.7.22. , Transcripts of Kafr Qasem Massacre Trial Revealed: ‘The Commander Said Fatalities Were Desirable’, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2022-07-29/ty-article/.highlight/kafr-qasem-massacre-trial-transcripts-the-commander-said-fatalities-were-desirable/00000182-49f2-d2c3-a5a3-5df201a50000
 Jewish Telegraph Agency, 7.8.86., Knesset Passes Anti-racism Law, https://www.jta.org/archive/knesset-passes-anti-racism-law
 Basic Law: The Knesset, https://www.servat.unibe.ch/icl/is02000_.html#S007a
 UPI, 31.10.85. Kahane can push law to ban Arab-Israeli sex, court says, https://www.upi.com/Archives/1985/10/31/Kahane-can-push-law-to-ban-Arab-Israeli-sex-court-says/2890499582800/
 Times of Israel, 21.10.22, Report: Over 100 settler attacks against Palestinians in West Bank in past 10 days
 Ha’aretz 16.9.22, Parties That Formerly Comprised the Joint List Can’t Decide Who’s to Blame for the Split https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/2022-09-16/ty-article/.premium/parties-that-formerly-comprised-the-joint-list-cant-decide-whos-to-blame-for-the-split/00000183-4747-d951-a7df-57cf0e7a0000