By MOSHE GIT
Historians teach us that in the aftermath of the French Revolution, in the newly formed assembly, delegates representing the liberal, new order sat on the left side, while those representing the conservative elements sat on the right.
When the state of Israel came into being, no party wanted to be seated on the right side of the Knesset (parliament) — since all factions regarded themselves as progressive, leaving behind the old rotten order typifying the Golah (Exile). Sitting on the right would be blasphemy. A solution was eventually found: The seating arrangement would follow the size of the party. Since the Socialist Workers party Mapai (later to become Ha’avodah), headed by the iconic David Ben-Gurion, was the largest party, it had priority.
As the years have gone by, the allure of socialism, internationally and in Israel, has begun to wane. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, the Likud, which was considered the right, managed to wrest the reins of power from Mapai.
Fast forward to the recent Israeli elections: The long reigning prime minister, the Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, has become a paranoid. He labored to eliminate all possible threats to his continuing leadership. Anybody and any-thing (including the media) that might be considered a threat was dubbed by him and by his obedient lieutenants “leftist,” no matter what their actual background is. “Leftist“ has become a dirty word. It was sufficient to dub an individual “leftist” to make him unworthy of taking part in the leadership of Israel. (It was reminiscent of the old McCarthy era in the U.S. when dubbing a person “Com- munist” was sufficient to annihilate him politically).
Sensing this trend, a certain true “right” party, which couldn’t get even a single representative to be elected to the Knesset in the recent first election round of a few months ago converted its name to Yeminah (“to the right of”) suggesting to the voter that they were even “right”-er than Netanyahu. This time they got elected. A great chunk of the country got engulfed in an anti-left psychosis with Netanyahu as the savior from this left.
The irony of fate has it that many of Netanyahu’s actions have actually emulated what the left would stand for. Netanyahu was “rightist” in his mouth only. He has managed to make everybody believe he is “rightist” while, in fact, he is a leftist in disguise. Thus, haters of the left voted for Netanyahu.
Why is Netanyahu a leftist? While paying lip service in a speech at Bar-Ilan University to a plan allowing the Palestinians to have a state side by side with Israel, a plan which a true leftist would strive for, Netanyahu has adamantly been refusing to negotiate a Palestinian state. The outcome of this stand is to turn Israel into a multinational-multi-religious state, an outcome favored by leftists, who hold that a country belongs to its citizens, but loathed by rightists (who want Israel to be exclusively Jewish).
Moreover, Netanyahu postured himself as one who supports Jewish settlements — a rightist position — and to that end he approved in publicized edicts the construction of more of those. His plans well satisfied the right. Yet, when the step of construction came nearer he silently ordered the shelving of the plans.
One glaring example of his leftist undercurrent is his refraining from dismantling the Palestinian shanty settlement Khan al-Ahmar near Jerusalem, which controls the eastern entrance road to Jerusalem, a move which was even approved by Israel’s Supreme Court. In disguising his leftism Netanyahu sup- presses the fact that over a decade ago he voted in the Knesset in support of the disengagement from the Gaza area which contributed to the rise of Hamas.
Also his government approved an agreement whereby the release of one Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) would be in exchange for over 1,000 terrorists (one, Yahya Sinwar, would later become a top leader of Hamas); and Netanyahu facilitates the transfer of cash, oil and electricity to Hamas despite the fact that it has been shelling Israeli towns for over a decade.
The right wouldn’t stand for such conduct, yet Netanyahu managed to delude millions of Israelis that he is of the right. His supporters dubbed him kossem (a wizard) and indeed he managed to put a spell on many Israelis and dupe them into believing that anybody who opposes him is a dreaded leftist.
Moshe Git lives in Minnetonka.
(American Jewish World, November 2019)