The Israeli left, like its international counterparts, is an elitist movement clinging to the myth of an egalitarian past. It spreads hate and suspicion because it knows that a united electorate would never pick it. And it plays on issues that it only pretends to care about to feed national resentments while promising a better way.
According to the left, Israel has no peace because of the settlers and has no fair distribution of benefits because of the Haredim. The Mizrahi members of its lists will tell their communities that the Russians are stealing the benefits that should be theirs. The Russian members of its lists will tell their communities that the Orthodox Jews are stealing their benefits. The Arabs on the list will tell their communities that the Jews are stealing all their benefits (but not vice versa as that would be illegal.)
Everyone will troop out for a social protest overseen by the left’s NGO’s with money that it solicited from foreign donors on a promise to fight settlements, but after a week or two, there will be a Muslim terrorist attack which will interrupt the momentum of the social protest, and the organizers will fold up their expensive tents, bought with money from the European Union and American leftists, and do the same thing all over again next month.
The Israeli left has become a pathetic and degenerate creature that feeds on this sort of hate. It rarely identifies itself in elections anymore, camouflaging its parties as centrist and mainstream. Its social protests may be stage-managed by the sort of people who parade around with red shirts and Palestinian flags in their real protests, but the social protests are masked as centrist protests, exploiting people with real grievances so that the grievance-makers may once again take power.
In the long run, the Haredim are needed in the workforce and the military, but getting them there would require changing the system, rather than the system that relies on them politically using them as scapegoats when politically convenient.
The National Unity Government came together and split not over the Haredi draft, but its cynical use as a political football in the game of coalitions that defines Israel’s political life. No one really wants to draft the Haredim, but no one, besides the Haredim, wants to appear not to want to draft them either. Haredi service, unlike food and apartment prices, is a stable grievance commodity. A political party that promises to draft them has its hand on the brass ring of Israeli grievance politics.
Israel’s fragmented immigrant cultures, its political system of ethnic and religious parties, that represent groups rather than neighborhoods, make this sort of game all too easy to play. Every faction and group breaks down into myriad splinter groups and divisions, all of them animated by a fervent belief that they are getting the short end of the stick. Even its political parties consist of microscopic coalitions welded together by a few influential figures for temporary periods of time.
All that chaos can temporarily coalesce together in the face of a crisis, but the crisis is usually a war. Iran’s nuclear program and the threat of nuclear annihilation haven’t done it yet. Instead a temporary unity government between Likud and Kadima was built on both sides playing the other over the Haredi draft in a display of incredible political cynicism.
But there is psychological safety in ignoring real problems. Bashing Haredim on the dole is easy; but doing the same thing to the Muslims, who don’t report income or pay taxes, is dangerous because it comes too close to a real national problem. Going on about your children being shot at because of the settlers (who nevertheless are a dominant presence in the military) is safe, but talking about the destructive political interests that ceded portions of the West Bank and Gaza to Islamic terrorists is a dangerous topic. Like the Muslim benefits topic, it’s dangerously close to being illegal because it deals with an actual grave national problem.
Israel’s existential problems have to be ignored because solving them is too difficult and requires challenging the entire system of authority and its embedded assumptions. Internal warfare is safer than fighting external enemies, in the way that all family squabbles are safer than pushing back against the outside world. The Schorim, the Ultra-Orthodox black sheep, are the safest target because they are unfamiliar enough to be alien, but close enough to still be family.
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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