In a recent opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, Sarah Honig, one of the paper’s better
columnists, raised the question of whether Israel’s Left should be regarded as stupid or
crazy. She raised the question in response to the latest gambit by Yossi Beilin, the Mother
Hen of the Oslo debacle, and his friends — the so-called ”Geneva Understandings,” which
would be better termed the Geneva Misunderstandings.
Honig’s question deserves to be taken seriously. The most correct answer to her question is that while many leftists are indeed crazy or stupid or both, increasingly Israel’s Left is composed of people who are evil.
This third possibility should be taken very seriously. The growth of the simply evil among
the stupid and the crazy on the Israeli Left has a simple explanation. While the Israeli Left at
the time of the Oslo Accords consisted mainly of the naive and the foolish, these people have,
over the course of the past ten years, in large part disappeared from its ranks. In most cases,
they simply became less foolish and naive over time, and consequently abandoned the Left.
They were mugged by reality and succumbed to the years of daily empirical demonstrations
that the Left’s understanding of the conflict in 1993 was simply wrong, demonstrably wrong,
These were the people whose earlier beliefs had remained open to a certain amount of testing, whose minds had not been hermetically sealed shut. When the actions of their erstwhile ”peace partners” proved just how wrong they’d been, they had second thoughts. They awoke and sniffed the coffee the rest of us had long been sipping. Among the manifestations of those second thoughts were the near-complete implosion of the leftist Meretz party, which lost half its Knesset representation, and the landslide defeat of Amram Mitzna and the Labor Party in the last Israeli national election.
As the naive abandoned the Left in droves, a process of adverse selection occurred. Many if not most of those who remained on the Left despite the bloody years of Oslo are today are evil. They constitute the Satanic Left. Some of them used to be foolish leftists who evolved
into evil leftists. They remain on the Left because they are motivated by hostility to
Israel, animosity toward Jews, and classic self-hatred.
That a political movement like the Israeli Left could be taken over by those motivated by dislike of their own country and hatred of their own people should not come as too much of a
surprise. After all, the American campus Left is also today little more than a movement of
anti-Americanism. It will support any Third World butcher it thinks is sufficiently hostile to
the United States and the West. It supports everything imaginable that can harm the
In 1993, most Israeli leftists sincerely believed that if Israel were to recognize and legitimize the PLO, make goodwill gestures to the Palestinians and release them from Israel ”occupation,” offer the Palestinians their own state alongside Israel, allow Arafat and the
leadership of the PLO to relocate from Tunis to the West Bank, and show itself somewhat
flexible in terms of the status of Jerusalem, then the Palestinians would respond to such
generosity with their own generosity.
The Left genuinely expected that demonstrations of Israeli goodwill would trigger outpourings of Palestinian goodwill and moderation, that good sportsmanship would be rewarded with niceness. A decade of goodwill measures later, we now have ample proof.
The Left was, of course, totally wrong. Israeli niceness did not produce Palestinian niceness but rather Palestinian Nazification. Israeli goodwill gestures triggered Palestinian fanaticism. Israeli offers to compromise produced Palestinian digging in of heels and insistence that only Israel’s destruction through some imagined ”right of return” was an acceptable solution.
When Israel turned over the bulk of the West Bank and Gaza to the PLO, along with perhaps 95 percent of the Palestinian population, those areas were not used by the PLO for nation building and economic development. Instead, they were used solely for perpetrating endless terrorist attacks, rocket attacks, and mass murders against Jews.
It became evident very quickly that Palestinian terrorism was not being caused by Israeli ”occupation” but rather was skyrocketing as a direct consequence of the removal of Israeli occupation. Each and every Israeli concession and offer to compromise was met with escalating Palestinian savagery and barbarism. It became obvious that the terror bonfire was not being fanned by any construction of Israeli settlements but rather by Israeli offers of appeasement that included proposals to remove those settlements.
We are now more than a decade after the infamous White House handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, orchestrated by Bill Clinton. Frankly, intelligent people should have seen in 1993 that Oslo was not a peace process at all but rather a process of appeasement and defeatism that would end not with a suppression of Palestinian terror but rather with its escalation to unprecedented levels.
In fairness, honest people with good intentions could well have believed in 1993 that Oslo was the path to follow. They were motivated by wishful thinking, by a complete misunderstanding of the Middle East conflict, and by exhaustion.
Fast forward to 2003: Every single day since the Oslo Accords were implemented has served up new empirical proof that those accords were founded on a totally incorrect concept of what the Middle East conflict was about. The Middle East conflict was not about any need for Palestinian ”self-determination” but rather about the total refusal by the Arab world to acquiesce in any form of Jewish self-determination.
The problem was not Israeli unwillingness for territorial compromise but Arab rejection of any territorial compromise if it allowed the continued existence of even a truncated Jewish state. Oslo proved that the Arabs would not be satisfied with some form of Palestinian statehood restricted to the West Bank and Gaza, but would demand all of Israel, perhaps in the name of the right of ”self-determination” for the Arabs of Nazareth and the Negev and Jaffa.
If the years of daily proof were insufficient, surely the events at Camp David II should have been more than enough to convince even the most diehard idealist and obstinate naif on the Israeli Left of the errors of his or her ways. At Camp David, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza purged of their Jewish settlers, all of East Jerusalem including the Western Wall, swaths of pre-1967 Israel, financial tribute, and admission of tens of thousands of Palestinian ”refugees” into the areas that Israel would retain as partial implementation of the Palestinian ”right of return.”
The PLO response to this suicidal offer was complete rejection and the launching of what has now become universally misnamed the Al-Aqsa Intifada, which should in fact more properly be dubbed the Oslo Pogroms. Characteristically, the Left’s response to these pogroms has been to engage in revisionism, denying that Barak actually made a generous offer at Camp David.
It’s been said that remarriage is the victory of hope over experience (as well as common sense). Israel’s leftist politicians continued to court the ugly Palestinian bride who had divorced them over and over and over. To believe after Camp David II that offers of generosity by Israel could ever defuse Palestinian barbarism was take to refuge in fantasy.
While the ranks of the Left in Israel have dwindled, as a cultural/political force the Left has retained much of its powers, including a near-totalitarian hegemony over Israel’s media and universities.
Who exactly are these people still on the Left? They are people who insist that Israel continue to pursue the failed Oslo ”strategy” — as if the past ten years of failure never took place. Beilin’s Geneva Misunderstandings are perhaps the best illustration. Going somewhat beyond even what Barak had offered at Camp David, they are once again based on endless Israeli concession, appeasement, and capitulation to Arab demands with absolutely no quid pro quo. The only thing the Beilin plan offers Israel is a promise of yet another empty rhetorical commitment by the PLO to suppressing terror, which is the same old used Edsel the PLO has been reselling to Israel over and over for the past decade.
The official canon being promulgated by Israel’s Left today is increasingly one of treason. A growing number of Israeli Leftists promote a one-state or binational solution, according to which Israel would cease to exist as a Jewish state. It would be entirely enfolded into a Palestinian state stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan with the Arabs the majority and the Jews a minority, tolerated at best like the other non-Arab or non-Muslim minorities in the Arab world.
Israeli Leftists are increasingly recruiting themselves to serve the very worst anti-Semites of the planet. There are today Israeli leftist professors promoting the views of Holocaust deniers. Scores of Israeli professors endorse the boycotts being organized by overseas anti-Semites directed against Israel, including even boycotts of the Israeli institutions that pay them their salaries. Israeli leftists are regulars on Islamist fundamentalist websites and are the universal
legitimizers of the very worst haters of Jews throughout the world. There exists today a true
axis of evil which links Jewish leftism with Islamofascism.
Israel’s Left has always been fundamentally anti-democratic, opposing the right of free expression for non-leftists, demanding that non-leftists be prosecuted as ”inciters.” The Left has long insisted that Yitzhak Rabin was in fact murdered because non-leftists and Oslo opponents were permitted to exercise their right to free speech. But lately the Left’s anti-democratic inclinations have taken a turn toward extremism and outright subversion.
Israeli leftists have long held themselves as being above the law, with no need to submit to the will of the majority, because their motives are so nice and pure. Leftists (and Arab fascists) feel they should be able to call openly for violence with impunity. Leftists believe they should be excused from serving in the army or obeying laws or paying taxes if the policies being implemented by the government or the army are not those advocated by the most extremist leftist 5 percent of the electorate.
The Left has for years been trying to foment mutiny among Israeli soldiers. It has organized groups who refuse to report to duty as long as Israel ”occupies” any portion of the West Bank and Gaza. These are people who explicitly refuse to submit themselves to the will of the majority of their fellow citizens. These are not people willing to promote their ideas through persuasion and argument, but rather through subversion and defiance of the rule of law. Their most recent gambit is to organize mutiny among Israeli pilots in the air force, who will refuse to shoot at terrorist mass murderers until Israel ends its ”occupation” on the leftist terms of surrender opposed by the bulk of the electorate.
In 1993 most Israeli leftists supported the Left because they believed its ideas would benefit Israel and the Jewish people. Today most leftists support those same ideas because they know they will harm Israel and Jews.
In 1993 most Israeli leftists believed in leftist ideas because they thought ”Palestine” would pursue peace. Today those remaining on the Left support Palestinian statehood because they know ”Palestine” will pursue war.
In 1993 most leftists believed in leftist ideas because they thought Israeli concessions would lead to Arab moderation. Today’s leftists know that these concessions are seen as signs of weakness that catalyze and energize Arab violence and that is why they demand more of
In 1993 most leftists believed in Israeli restraint because they thought it would stimulate Palestinian goodwill. Today’s leftists demand endless restraint because they do not want Israel to fight terror at all. They want terror to triumph.
In 1993 most leftists believed in leftist ideas because they thought Israel would emerge stronger if Oslo were implemented. Today’s leftists advocate the very same ”process” — witness the Beilin-proposed capitulations — despite the blood-drenched reality of the past ten years.
The Left of 1993 was by and large a Left that could be awakened from its delusions by Palestinian atrocities, endless violations of PLO commitments, Arab betrayal, and the
increasingly Nazified rhetoric of both Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.
By contrast, too many of today’s Israeli leftists do not need awakening because they have no delusions that negotiations will produce peace; they support Oslo-style surrender precisely because they know it will not lead to peace.
Too many Israeli leftists and their overseas apologists will do anything in their power to undermine the will of the electorate in Israel. They will undermine any government Israeli voters select. They have no scruples when it comes to collaboration with the worst anti-Semites on the planet.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book ”The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a recent opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, Sarah Honig, one of the paper’s better