The Case of the Missing Dove: Israeli Peace Movements

Peace Now: “We believe that wallowing in the Lebanese mud is not in Israel’s interest.”

Gush Shalom: “Let’s stop endangering the lives of our soldiers for no purpose.”

To be honest, I have never really considered the Israeli mainstream left and peace movements to be genuinely what they claim to be and represent. I have, for the longest time, and to the dislike of a number of “peace enthusiasts”, some of whom happen to be close friends, maintained that there is no left in Israel, save for a few individual voices here and there, who are genuinely interested in or actively working on shattering the boundaries and myths drawn by individuals and entities seeking to divide and conquer.

It had never occured to me that, despite my ruthless criticism of the so-called Israeli left, I was at the same time unconsciously (naive as I was) hopeful that I was wrong. Throghout the latest round of Israeli aggression (yes, that is what it was) I kept reading Israeli media, hoping to find a hint, however faint, of genuine disgust at the killing being done in the name of Israeli sovereignty, security, and deterrance. Alas, no such thing was to be found. The few who ventured to criticize pointed to the losses in the ranks of the Israeli army, the failure to stop the Katyushas from raining down on the north, the terrible suffering of the northerners who were holed up in shelters or were living in “refugee” tents on the Tel Aviv beach, the horror of it all… To make it worse, to the utter discomfort of these open-minded, freedom and democracy-loving people whom Western media never fails to hail as heroes (at the same time portraying the “enemies” as bloodthirsty war-mongers who do not value life, freedom, or peace), the war “against HezbAllah” was not going as planned. Not because there were too many civilian deaths on the other side of the border, but because there were too many Israeli soldiers wounded and killed, and apparently too lenient a policy on behalf of the Israeli Air Force.

Gush Shalom, the “champion” of Israeli peace movements, conveys the necessity of halting the war in terms of losses in the ranks of the Israeli forces, the impossibility of any military solution, and the Lebanese quagmire, which must be avoided at all costs. Here I must point out that Gush Shalom’s emphasis on the lack of a military solution (pointing to the failures of the past) means that had there really been the possibility (or perception thereof) of a military victory, the group would have advocated it regardless of all other issues (i.e. civilian deaths, etc.). In other words, had it been possible to entirely eliminate HezbAllah, Gush Shalom would have accepted the military solution, for the simple reason that it would’ve been successful. Thus, success (and the welfare of Israeli society), and not genuine desire for justice, human rights, and peace, is what determines the position of the group. A mere reference to the founding date of the group, 1993, is enough. It was in the aftermath of the First Intifada that the group was founded. Prior to that, and for decades, occupation and subjugation remained the norm in both right-wing and left-wing circles in Israel.

Peace Now, another peace-advocating group, has a history that dates back to 1978. Like its younger sibling, the year of its founding is rather indicative of the state of mind of Israeli society and the reasons the movement sprang up, as well as the real intentions and agendas of the group. The group points out that “[t]he basic principles of the movement from the outset were the right of Israel to live within secure borders”. Yet the term “secure borders” is quite tricky (for many, the concept of a secure border for Israel meant and continues to mean that expansionism beyond the green [pre-1967] line was a strategic and existential necessity), as indeed the sentence that follows it indicates: “In time the movement became convinced the only viable solution to the conflict was the creation of a Palestinian state in the territories adjacent to Israel, which were occupied as a result of the 1967 war.” (emphasis mine) The key phrase here is “in time”, which refers to 1988, the year Peace Now urged the government to negotiate with the PLO. A year after the eruption of the First Intifada. This again shows the rationale of Peace Now. Like Gush Shalom, Peace Now sold (and continues to sell) an image of itself as a peace movement. When all their arguments fail, pro-Israelis and Zionists in the West refer to these groups as proof of the good-will of the Israelis (they argued, look, it’s not the Israelis who don’t want peace, it’s the Arabs!), in contrast to the “monstrosity” of the Palestinians who, it is argued, teach their children to hate Israeli soldiers (note that it is “OK” for Israelis to teach their children to say that the murder of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, including children, was a necessity; or to take them to artillery positions to write messages on artillery shells – that is dismissed as “standard practice” or “habit”, and the core issue is deliberately skirted), encourage them to skip school and instead throw stones, or wear suicide bomb belts and blow themselves up.

At first I wanted to only talk about a certain statement released by Peace Now, but it evolved into a rather lengthy rant on the Israeli left (perhaps I should not really accord so much importance to a fake and irrelevant concept as the Israeli left). The statement – it is more of a “reflection” piece, but quite indicative of the group’s policy orientation and support base – sets out to tackle the question “what did we learn from the war?” I will not debunk the piece point-by-point (I will leave that to the comments section for debate), but I will try to address some of the things that stuck out when I read it. First and foremost is the assumption that the war was against HezbAllah. This idea is universally accepted in Israel (and anyone who dares question it would be branded a heretic, a traitor, a parasite, to name just a few labels), and almost universally adopted in the West (and by extension by Arab puppet totalitarian regimes) and the media. Was the war really against HezbAllah? What is HezbAllah? Is the HezbAllah constituency (civilian support base) considered by Israel to be part and parcel of HezbAllah? And how do Israel’s disregard for the presence of a Lebanese government (however invisible the latter might have been to begin with) and its offensive campaign against the Lebanese Army fit into this equation?

Second, Peace Now argues that “with force alone we cannot defeat the dangers that face us even by a small guerrilla organization.” (emphasis mine) Alone is the key word here. Force by itself cannot solve anything, Peace Now claims. Force coupled with some diplomacy (note that diplomacy is considered merely the missing piece to the puzzle, and not the real solution), however, can get one a long way.

Third, Peace Now seems to be overly concerned with Islamic “fundamentalism”, but is mum on Jewish (I will refrain from using the term Israeli here, since there are also Arab citizens of Israel, though the Jews by no means consider them to be Israelis; they are “Israeli-Arabs”) fundamentalism (and terror/ism). In fact, not only is Peace Now silent (both in this statement and in general) on the issue of settler-inflicted violence, it is critical of the state terrorism (which Peace Now refuses to refer to in such wording) practiced by Israel against the Palestinians only in so far as violence has failed to achieve Israel’s objectives, whatever these may be.

Fourth, Peace Now claims that “[t]ime is not working in Israel’s favor”. What is it with time that unsettles the Israelis so much? I’d be damned if it isn’t the “demographic threat”. Speaking of which, for the past few days, Israeli papers across the political spectrum (if there is any such thing in Israel, that is) have been enthusiastically circulating reports of declining Arab fertility rates in Israel. Peace Now not only does not condemn, it, I have no doubt (my doubts were alleviated by the above-mentioned reference to demographics), actively endorses the racist, discriminatory mentality and agenda that pervades Israeli society.

Fifth, Peace Now claims that its position on the fighting “against HezbAllah” is “complex”. On the contrary, I would argue that Peace Now’s position is very simple, and departs from that of the government only in so far as it is more realistic and as a result less stupid. The group conveys support for “Israel’s right to react to Hezbollah assaults”, but conveniently ignores the reason these assaults have taken place, if they indeed were assaults, which in most cases, they were not (but rather were retaliations for violations by Israel – including the events that triggered the launching of Katyushas on northern Israel during the war). The group also fails to address – deliberately so – the question of Lebanese civilian deaths. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as tacit support for these crimes, justified by a vague reference to strategic necessity. Peace Now continues to elaborate its highly complex position by pointing out that “wallowing in the Lebanese mud is not in Israel’s interest”. In other words, had there been no Lebanese mud (i.e. no HezbAllah) it would’ve been in Israel’s interest to do what Israel has been doing all along. This in effect renders human rights violations, injustice, occupation, oppression, acceptable (if not actively sought) in cases where Israel faces no Lebanese mud. In cases where Israel gets a light-dosed taste of its own medicine and cannot live with its losses, it becomes necessary to pursue the diplomatic tract (though not completely abandoning the military option – and indeed continuing routine human rights violations), which would in effect (perhaps to the discomfort of many) put an end to these violations. Peace Now also makes paranoid (or otherwise deliberately attempts to create perceptions of threat among Israeli public) references to existential threat. In the wake of Israel’s loss against HezbAllah (but definite victory against Lebanese civilians), this is a very crucial point to target public opinion on, and Peace Now is very much aware of that. I would not even call its position “moderate”, let alone peace-seeking or peace-loving.

There seems to be a mass-scale misunderstanding. Liberalism is not leftism. Moreover, peace and justice movements that seek to define themselves within the domestic framework are always bound to fail. There is no place for the quest for justice, liberation, and equality where feelings of nationalism and the duty to the state are the accepted and glorified norm.

Advertisements

8 responses to “The Case of the Missing Dove: Israeli Peace Movements

  1. I have to say that I’m utterly horrified by this post which indicates that you do not understand Israeli politics very well, & certainly not Israeli left politics.

    Sure, there is much to criticize in the response of the Israeli left to the Lebanon war. And I’ve angrily denounced them at my blog about this. But to make a statement like this shows you weren’t doing what you say you were doing: reading the Israeli press:

    I kept reading Israeli media, hoping to find a hint, however faint, of genuine disgust at the killing being done in the name of Israeli sovereignty, security, and deterrance. Alas, no such thing was to be found.

    This is simply not true. I probably wrote somewhere between 40-50 posts about the war. Most of them contained links to articles from Haaretz, Ynet or the NY Times. And MANY of those were opinion pieces and columnists writing with profound condemnations of the war. Yes, it’s true that some on the left had tactical, but not strategic problems with the war. Peace Now & Meretz are perfect examples of this. I join you in detesting their initial support for the war & subsequent opposition on tactical grounds. But most of the links I posted were to commentators disgusted by the war not just because of what it was doing to Israel, but because of what it was doing to Lebanon. And these journalists opposed the war on fundamental moral, rather than pragmatic/realpolitik grounds.

    You’re clearly not reading my blog as regularly as I read yours otherwise you might not be saying the things you did above. Or maybe you would because you’d disagree w. my perspective. I don’t know. But I really think you’ve missed the boat.

    Gush Shalom’s emphasis on the lack of a military solution (pointing to the failures of the past) means that had there really been the possibility (or perception thereof) of a military victory, the group would have advocated it regardless of all other issues (i.e. civilian deaths, etc.).

    No! You’ve completely misrendered Gush Shalom’s position. It is NOT the same as the Peace Now/Meretz position. Gush Shalom was the very first group to demonstrate against the war on almost the very first day. There were something like 25 people for that first demo & they were almost all Gush Shalom folks. Gush Shalom is against the war on moral grounds & not just because it is bad for Israel. You should read their website more carefully before you rush to mistaken judgments. I would also challenge you to find actual quotations from their site or public statements which say what you claim they believe.

    A mere reference to the founding date of the group, 1993, is enough. It was in the aftermath of the First Intifada that the group was founded.

    This is more unfortunate distorted judgment on yr part. Gush Shalom may have been founded in 1993, but it stems from a long line of leftist pro-peace groups which have existed in Israel for decades. I know this because I have been a supporter of the peace movement since 1967 and have opposed Israeli policy toward the Palestinians ever since.

    The founder of Gush Shalom is Uri Avnery, who has been the doyen of the peace movement going back to 1965 when he published the great muckracking paper, HaOlam HeZeh. To throw Avnery & Gush Shalom out with the bath water is such an unfortunate & counter-productive act on yr part. You probably wouldn’t find anyone in Israel MORE sympathetic to yr pt of view than them.

    Gush Shalom is the only Israeli group demonstrating every week in a Palestinian village against the Separation Wall. It demonstrates together with the Palestinians from Bil’in and both the Gush Shalom people & Palestinians have endured tremendous hardship at the hands of the Border Police including beatings, interrogations, imprisonment & even shootings involving serious injury. They put their lives on the line for what they believe.

    Gush Shalom is not a ‘younger sibling’ of Peace Now, as Gush Shalom’s members tend to be older than Peace Now’s and have been in the peace movement much longer. They also hold harder left views than Peace Now, which tend to be far more critical of Israeli policies.

    First and foremost is the assumption that the war was against HezbAllah. This idea is universally accepted in Israel…

    This is simply not true. Many Israelis understand the truth that the war was a war against Lebanon & not just Hezbollah. It’s all there in the Israeli journalism I link to repetitively in my blog.

    Peace Now seems to be overly concerned with Islamic “fundamentalism”, but is mum on Jewish…fundamentalism (and terror/ism). In fact, not only is Peace Now silent (both in this statement and in general) on the issue of settler-inflicted violence, it is critical of the state terrorism…practiced by Israel against the Palestinians only in so far as violence has failed to achieve Israel’s objectives…

    Again, this is a most unfortunate & inaccurate representation of Peace Now. I make clear that I completely disagree w. Peace Now’s position about Lebanon. But in your broader denunciation of the group you’ve gone off the rails. One of the most disturbing acts of Israeli right wing terror (which predated Rabin’s assassination) was the killing by hand grenade of Emil Grunzweig at a Peace Now demonstration. It was possibly the first time that an Israeli murdered another Israeli over the I-P conflict. And the Rabin assassination itself occurred during a Peace Now demonstration. How can you possibly say that Peace Now ignores or countenances Israeli right wing terror in the face of such information. It boggles my mind.

    In addition, Peace Now activists have for years demonstrated in the Occupied Territories on behalf of Palestinians attacked by settler militants. They have organized thousands of vigils to protect olive groves from uprooting. They have interposed themselves between Palestinians & settler thugs. And this is not a one off thing. It has happened regularly over the years. You & I have access to the same periodicals and sources. How come I know all these things & you don’t? Where do you get yr information from?

    Your are terribly dyspeptic & yr. bitterness unfortunately does not allow you to see things you do not wish to see. You want to demonize Israel. Fine. Go ahead. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that readers like me will go along with your twisted view of Israeli progressive politics.

    I’m perfectly prepared to read criticism of Israel, including the Israeli left. I write such criticism myself at my blog. But the criticism must be grounded in fact & not in ideological distortion.

  2. Richard, just a quick note before I leave for the south –

    these journalists opposed the war on fundamental moral, rather than pragmatic/realpolitik grounds.
    I am not sure who you are referring to, but I have not seen anyone other than Amira Hass and Gideon Levy (and perhaps one or two others here and there) expressing discomfort with what was happening in Lebanon. In fact, you seem to have jumped on my post without realizing that I never denied the existence of such INDIVIDUAL commentators. What I was addressing, however, was the moral bankruptcy of the organized “left” in Israel, at least when it came to the war in/on Lebanon. It would be difficult to convince anyone – and definitely almost impossible to convince ME – that the terms used by these (undeniably often outspoken) groups to criticize the Lebanon war had, at their core, the welfare of the Lebanese civilians.

    Regarding Gush Shalom, I am aware that they were one of the first to protest the war, and in fact continued to protest throughout. That I did not deny. However, I did go through their website (well, the English version), and all I saw were references to the Lebanese quagmire, the impossibility of a military solution, and so on. A reference to Qana was made, but that cannot count as the norm. Even Olmert “apologized” for it. Again, I am not claiming that there are no individuals within Gush Shalom who speak truly out of concern for human rights and justice, but these people seem to be a minority. I realize that Gush Shalom has a far better position than Peace Now on this issue, and for that reason, it seems, their popularity is not as broad as Peace Now (though they might be more visible in the media). My reference to the “younger sibling” referred merely to the date of founding. Sure, I realize that Avnery has extensive experience in the peace movement, and many of those within Gush Shalom do too, but that should not automatically shield him, or anyone else, from criticism on positions adopted by his group. This is an issue that many leftists disagree with me on. You mentioned that Avnery would probably be the most sympathetic to my “cause”, and that might be true, but I am not willing to throw principles out the window for the mere idea of enjoying the sympathy of someone on the other side of the border. That does NOT mean, as many have attempted to shift the debate to, that I do not appreciate Avnery’s views and positions on many issues, both in the past and present. It takes a lot of courage to do what Avnery and members of his group have been doing. THAT I do not deny.

    How can you possibly say that Peace Now ignores or countenances Israeli right wing terror in the face of such information.
    The answer to that lies in Peace Now’s unprincipled stand (whatever the reasons for that were) on a number of issues, including the Lebanon war. Unfortunately, this is largely the problem with peace movements that are modeled to fit (even if loosely) the domestic scene of party politics. There was near consensus in Israel that the war was justified (and indeed imposed upon Israel). In such circumstances, Peace Now, fearful of losing its wider appeal, HAD to shape its position on this based on purely national/istic rather than humanitarian, or even merely realistic grounds.

    I might not be in Israel or completely unaware of what is REALLY going on there, but my judgements are based on official statements made by these groups. In fact, such analysis need not be coupled by hands-on experience or presence on the ground, as any researcher would tell you. If my criticism is akin to ideological distortion, it is merely the consequence of these groups’ statements – perhaps they are not conveying the same thing as has been taking place on the ground. Whatever the case, the fault lay with these groups, and not with those pointing to their unprincipled stances. That these groups have done good deeds should not automatically save them from criticism.

    I neither want to, nor need to demonize Israel. Successive Israeli governments have done and continue to do that already. I am open to criticism, after all it is dialogue that clears up misunderstandings. In fact, I have continuously criticized the complete absence of a Lebanese left (be it organized or on an individual level). I have engaged in fierce debates with self-identified Lebanese leftists, criticizing them for their unprincipled stands. I have continuously criticized the Lebanese government and Lebanese political parties (including HezbAllah). Does that mean I am seeking to demonize Lebanon? I don’t understand why criticism is taken personally in this manner. Don’t people believe in constructive criticism? Should we pat Peace Now on the back for its position on the Lebanon war merely because its previous positions have been great?

    As for me not reading your blog regularly, yes, I admit I have not been checking out blogs too often lately, as I have been busy. But I do appreciate your insights and perspective, including your criticism of my entries.

  3. Is there the kind of organized left you seem to think worthy of the name in Lebanon, or indeed anywhere?

  4. Even though I personally support a 2-state solution based on the pre-1967 boundaries, I’ve always been skeptical of the Zionist Left. The discourse of the Zionist Left – of a pure and innocent Israel corrupted by occupation of Palestinian land since 1967 –has always struck me as remarkable in its whitewashing of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from 1947-1949. I believe that many of the problems of the Zionist left you identify stem from this discourse of pre-1967 innocence. Anyway, the support of prominent leftwing Zionist doves (Amos Oz, David Grossman, A.B. Yehoshua) for Israel’s savagery in Lebanon just confirms my skepticism.

    That being said, I don’t think you are fair to lump together Gush Shalom with Peace Now. First of all, in regards to the 1993 starting date, Gush Shalom was specifically founded in response to Rabin’s deportation of 400 “Hamas Activists” to Lebanon, so I don’t understand why you would hold that against Gush Shalom. Gush Shalom’s founder, Uri Avnery, has been a longstanding supporter of Palestinian self-determination, meeting with the PLO in the 1970’s when such a move was considered treasonous in Israel.

    Second, Gush Shalom has repeatedly used condemned Israel’s “war crimes” and “destruction” in Lebanon as well as Palestine. While I agree that a slogan of “There is no military solution” could be interpreted as legitimating military options that actually succeed, I also think the meaning of that slogan changes when it is accompanied by moral condemnations of Israel’s military conduct, as Gush Shalom has repeatedly done. Ultimately, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in saying, “Israel can’t achieve security by devastating Lebanon and enslaving Palestinians.”

    By the way, this is a speech by Uri Avnery at an anti-war protest:
    http://gush-shalom.org/Docs/avnery-speech-5-8-06.rtf

  5. Ariel – no, there is none in Lebanon, and very few real principled leftist movements in the world. I can go on an even longer rant about the left in North America and Europe, and such a rant would stem from personal experiences.

    Peter –

    I did not lump Gush Shalom with Peace Now in the way you allege I did. I criticized them each on its own, but in the same post since both are peace movements. Regarding the founding date of Gush Shalom, again, the deportation of the activists must’ve been one of the least destructive and brutal acts perpetrated by Israel for more than 2 decades (here I’m taking 1967 as the starting point since it’s the ‘norm’). I realize that there were individuals active throughout the period prior to the founding of such movements, but the point I am trying to make is about the organized left and peace movements, which seem to be hailed as “pure” and “perfect”. Progressive they might be, but not faultless, and therefore naturally PRONE to criticism. I still don’t see why these groups should NOT be criticized for some of their positions. I realize that a lot of good has come out of them, but at the same time, one cannot claim to truly stand for peace when one adopts a different set of standards on some occasions. Again, your reference to 1948 is a clear example of that, though it’s even more politically incorrect to refer to it than to criticize these movements for their failures in properly addressing the realities of post-1967 not just in Gaza & the West Bank but also the Golan, Lebanon, and Israel’s policies vis-a-vis the Arab world. Remember that these groups call for “negotiations”, whereas withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 is supposed to be UNCONDITIONAL as per UN resolutions. Negotiations for what? Imagine, for a moment, the following scenario: You don’t like me. One day, I decide to attack you. In the process, I steal a very precious item of yours, because you are weaker and can’t hold out against me. I keep the item for 40 years. 40 years later, my children tell me I need to return the item, but I can insist on having negotiations. Negotiations for what? Well, for starters, I demand that you start liking me, notwithstanding the theft that was covered up on or forgotten by the witnesses of the assault. This is what Peace Now and Gush Shalom (YES, they DO) advocate. They all call for negotiations. Negotiations for WHAT exactly?

    You pointed to the speech by Avnery, so I will address that too. Words are very powerful things, and someone like Avnery, I am sure, realizes the importance of choosing the right words. Yet he says:

    “On behalf of this demonstration,
    I say to the Lebanese people:
    As an Israeli,
    I feel deep shame
    For what we are doing to you!”

    Great so far.

    He then continues,

    “For the devastation we have brought on you.”

    Devastation? Is that all it was? (note that on the Gush Shalom page, the question “WERE war crimes committed in the course of the war?” is posed, and the answer is also provided: ONLY A STATE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY CAN GIVE CREDITABLE ANSWERS” – so the state that perpetrated war crimes will provide credible anwers? Like Qana I in 1996? How can Gush Shalom, of all groups, and Uri Avnery of all people, take such a position? Mind boggling indeed.) There are only two references to “war crimes” on the English page. One is the above, and the other refers to Peretz’s war crimes in the occupied territories. Lebanon, it seems, does not qualify for such wording.

    That said, there are some interesting movements in Israel (and sadly none of these in Lebanon), and I follow (relatively) closely the work done by some. For example, I appreciate the existence of groups like B’Tselem. I am also impressed with initiatives like Neve Shalom / Wahat al-Salam / Oasis of Peace. I realize that it is not within the scope of all groups to address all issues. Some groups, like B’Tselem focus on the situation in Gaza & the West Bank (I do not refer to them as occupied territories since there are other occupied territories besides these), while others address co-existence between Jews and Muslims (I do not call them Arabs since there are also Arab Jews – but in no way do I intend to say that the conflict is of a religious nature) and those are very noble acts indeed. As long as the scope is defined, I have no problem if the groups do not address, for example, the situation in Lebanon. Technically speaking, they DON’T have to. But both Gush Shalom and Peace Now as broader movements with broader agendas HAVE TO, and both, in effect, FAIL to do so in a manner that fits the noble aims that they claim to pursue.

  6. Thanks for yr thoughtful reply to my comment.

    In that reply you seemed to think I was attacking or criticizing your for criticizing Peace Now’s position on the Lebanon war. Just to be clear, I fully join you in this condemnation. The mainstream Israeli left’s approach to the war was unconscionable & I’ve written about that in detail in my blog. But I do part ways with you on yr view of Gush Shalom.

    And as for the issue of whether war crimes were committed in Lebanon I don’t fully agree with the Gush Shalom statement which you quote. A State Commission can certainly (though I don’t know if it WILL) lay the groundwork for determining some level of moral/legal culpability for the actions of leaders like Halutz, Peretz & Olmert. But other bodies can also do this like the International Court of Justice. I, for one support the notion that both Israel’s leaders, and Palestinians who’ve organized suicide bombings, & Hezbollah fighters who’ve organized rocket attacks against northern Israel should all face such a tribunal. Israel, having committed far more mayhem than either Palestinian or Hezbollah militants deserves more to be in the dock of justice. But all parties who’ve violated the laws of war should go to the Hague & be judged for their actions.

    I, unlike you, subscribe to the notion that “politics is the art of the possible.” I would love a pure Israeli left/peace movement that was always right on the issues. But unfortunately, we have what we have, imperfect though it is. I fully agree with you that the Israeli left should be roundly criticized when it blunders. That may make it “better” on the issues. But when all is said & done, it is this same imperfect peace movement which is needed to counteract the massive power of the militarists and rightists; especially if we ever hope for a negotiated peace.

    Regarding Israeli commentators who opposed the war on moral principle, there were far more than the few you name. Yes, they are individuals. But they are not individuals like you or I. They are each columnists who have their own bully pulpits fr. which they try to rally readers to their moral perspective. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis and others read what each of these dissenters has to say. It doesn’t mean that they are in the majority. But it doesn’t mean they are insignificant either. I guess I’d rather see the “glass” of the Israeli left as half full and you’d rather see it half empty.

  7. This question of definition has become the theme of the decade. What is the left? Who represents what? Why can so many terms be used to describe the same thing? Norm Geras drew my wrath when he criticized the “left” after 9/11 because I could not figure out ,and he was never clear about, exactly who this left was.Lets criticize ourselves for failing to build a a stronger movement and re-dedicate ourselves to the task of organizing. Leave the criticism of the left to the right.Great discussion and website by the way, but this question of complicity and loyalty turns into a Zen koan.

  8. Leave the criticism of the left to the right.
    Actually, this is the kind of mentality that is hindering the movement of the left in welcome directions. We are often told that by criticizing the left we are doing the right’s job for them, or at any rate weakening the only remaining front against the right. This is utterly unjustifiable. It is also not conducive to an overall transformation of the left into a much more active front. It has been anything BUT active. I’d rather see a strong left bashed by right-wingers at every occasion for being truly the enemies of totalitarianism and racism than a dormant left that claims to be a voice of moderation and peace in the midst of a world gone crazy. Let’s be honest – being dedicated to the concept of peace is one thing, foolishly claiming to work towards it on every occasion while the reality of the situation imposes a different order is another. While we might all want peace, it would be foolish to assume or advocate that the left would/should stand idly by. Truth is, when our enemies (talking about the nationalists/right-wingers/imperialists) force war upon us, we have nothing else to do but fight. That’s if we want to survive. If we don’t want to, then that’s a completely different thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s