Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

There is no Right and Left in Israeli Politics

November 29, 2012 7:54 pm 3 comments

Israeli Knesset (parliament). Photo: wiki commons.

For the most part, there is no political Right and Left in Israel. At least not in the way the respective positions are understood in the U.S., or Europe for that matter.

American pundits are fond of referring to Prime Minister Nentanyahu’s Likud as “Right-wing,” especially following the party’s primaries earlier this week when Likud voters “chose a heavily right-leaning slate” according to the Washington Post. Bibi’s teaming up, on October 25th, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is often described as “ultra nationalist,” to form a joint list with his Yisrael Beiteinu Party for the upcoming elections, also strongly compounded this perception.

But in reality, when broken down, it becomes obvious that these labels are far from accurate.

For example Netanyahu’s tax policy of late looks quite like what President Obama has been pushing congressional Republicans to accept. After recent Netanyahu tax hikes, the Jerusalem Post reported that he “argued on Channel 10 that society’s weakest sectors would only be affected by 3 percent of the approved tax increases, highlighting that capital gains, corporate tax, and taxes on the wealthy accounted for a majority of the NIS 15 billion in new government revenues.” Could the American right come close to adopting similar policies? Grover Norquist simply wouldn’t allow it.

There are some individuals within the party lists that reflect varying positions on social issues; however these views more often reflect their religious backgrounds than political affiliations. Moshe Feiglin who after two previous attempts has finally made it to a comfortable spot on Likud’s list, once penned an article entitled “I am a proud homophobe.” However Gideon Sa’ar, who is second only to Netanyahu on the Likud list, publicly defends the rights of gays. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, who ranked third on Likud’s list, holds views on climate change that would make Al Gore proud. Haim Katz, another prominent member of Likud, is the secretary of the National Workers Union of Israel Aircraft Industries, and was appointed chairman of the pension funds policy making staff of Israel’s general trade union. Hardly a position for a “Right-winger.”

The Shas party which is always a traditional coalition bedfellow of the Likud, was described to me by one Israeli political commentator as a “classic redistributionist party.”

Members of Yisrael Beiteinu who have actively championed social issues including pensions, housing and other benefits, and would fit right in to the Democratic Party in the U.S., include Orly Levy-Abekasis and Sofa Landver.

On the other hand, Tzipi Livni who is championed by the American media as a “Left-wing” figurehead, has campaigned on a platform that opposes raising taxes, and was formerly the “director general of the Government Companies Authority, where she saw through the most ambitious privatization program in Israeli history, selling off government companies to the tune of $4 billion in just two years,” according to the Jewish Virtual Library.

There is more, but here is the point. In Israel’s political galaxy there is the “security first” camp and there is the “risks for promised peace” camp, and many variations in between. The spectrum is divided almost exclusively based on security related positions, leading to an abundance of unnatural groupings and political mutants.

Appreciating this point is key to understanding the latest movements of the Israeli electorate, especially the results of Likud’s primary this week, and how Israel’s effort to halt Gaza rocket fire through Operation Pillar of Defense is likely to impact the elections.

Israel has been increasingly moving in the “security first” direction for a number of years. The Likud primaries, no doubt as a direct result of Hamas’ recent assault on the Jewish state, amounted to a concerted lurch in that direction.

In Israel, the “Land for Peace” mantra is dying politically, and not for want of trying. Over the years Israelis have given the leadership mandate to more “peace riskers” than “security firsters,” including Golda Meir, Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, and as it turned out, Menachem Begin.

As the international community has come to accept many Middle East realities that it may otherwise find unsavory, the following must be internalized about Israel: The public has tried and tested the “Land for Peace” path and it has not liked what it has seen. Israelis will not go back.

The author is the editor of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

3 Comments

  • Disagreeing, and arguing about one’s disagreements, are a source of strength. Debating makes one understand the nature of opposing points of view and sharpens the expression and knowledge of one’s own position. The Talmud is a collection of arguments. The Jewish tradition of controversy is what enables Jewish children to succeed in school and in their careers.
    There is one subject, however, on which Jews all agree: Choose life.

  • The apples and oranges went in rwo different directions. If the US was under attack there would be no left/right political discussions about what to do in response.
    Similarly it would be expected that Israel would respond with one voice.
    The problem in Israel as seen from the US is that every man is a general and every man feels free to state his expert opinion on the policy, strategy and tactics of the defence/offense that should be employed. A veritable cacophony that undermines any confidence that Israel is a unified entity in perilous times. It’s no left/right; it’s each man willing to sacrifice the national ‘one face forward’ for some individual egotistical self-aggrandizement reward. Maybe you could tell those men to shut up when the nation is in danger. Start there.

  • There is no “right vs left” paradigm in Israeli politics.

    The correct paradigm is “Israeli vs Jew”.

    Most politicos are “Israelis” whereas Moshe Feiglin is a “Jew”.

    This is why Bibi has tried forever to keep Moshe down.

    Moshe is a revolution, not just a different candidate.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →