It has become a tradition that every year on Jerusalem Day, the Right-wingers accuse the Left-wingers of the fact that the Left-wingers have displaced themselves from the celebrations for the capital city, while the Left throws back the blame, on the grounds that by their behavior, the Right has expropriated Jerusalem Day to itself. But the fact is that Jerusalem Day is only a symptom of a much wider phenomenon – the relocation of Zionism to the Right wing’s property. The Right argues, too often as an afterthought, that the Left has forgotten what it means to be a Jew. The simple answer given by the Left is that the actions of the Right distance them from Zionism, which until several years ago was the flagship symbol of a masterpiece Zionist society that the Left sought to establish here.
But it seems like the Left is making life easy for itself, and long ago gave up on the flags of Zionism and the just way it believes in. As a case study, I present two events held within eight days and 60 kilometers of each other.
The first, is the ceremony for the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism, which was held last Thursday for the seventh time. The winners for this year, have won the Oz Tzion prize for life endeavors: Rabbi Yosef Zvi Rimon, founder of JobKatif, which helps Gush Katif expellees return to the workforce; Mr. Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Yisrael, which seeks to return descendants of the lost tribes of Israel to their land; and Dr. Gabriel Barkay, the archaeologist leading the struggle of the Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount, who were joined by the two winners of the Ruach Tzion for Young Entrepreneurs award: Major (Ret.) Habtamu Joseph, founder of the “Provisions for a Meaningful Service, for guiding Ethiopian youngsters through their IDF service, and Natanel Alinson, author of the Travel Guide to Samaria.
Seemingly, all five winners operate within the realms of the general Zionist consensus (even the winner operating in Judea and Samaria, does so within the field of travel and leisure), and it was therefore expected that their victory would get the sufficient media and public coverage that it deserves. However, few if any media channels reported the ceremony and the winners, despite the fact that a total of $100,000 were awarded to the winners. Also, the audience mainly consisted of the Zionist-religious sector, attested to by the many kippot in the audience.
In addition, the Knesset members who honored the ceremony with their presence were mostly from the Right wing parties: Minister Uzi Landau (Likud Beiteinu), and MKs Moti Yogev and Yoni Shitbon (Habayit Hayehudi). Well, you could say that it’s not that the Left has given up on Zionism, but that it has developed a sense of apathy and dropped its level of activism. Really? Reality has proven otherwise. Last Friday, dozens of public figures identifying themselves with the Zionist Left (such as AB Yehoshua, Alon Liel, Yariv Oppenheimer, Yuli Tamir and Moshe Mizrahi) will gather in Kikar Habimah in Tel Aviv, supporting an event of ‘Breaking the Silence’ while commemorating 47 years of occupation.
While Zionism is based on the protection of human rights, any connection between the evidence of Breaking the Silence and human rights and Zionism is purely coincidental. Those who refuse to reveal the details of these stories so that they can be investigated – do not care about human rights. Those who travel the world spreading lies in a myriad languages – are not interested in improving the work of the security forces, but aim to create international pressure on Israel to end the “occupation.” One could be a Zionist simultaneously to being concerned with human rights violations. One could be a Zionist and still support the division of the land. But one cannot see the Jews as foreigners in their homeland. Anyone who regards the liberation of Judea and Samaria as an “occupation,” undermines the basic foundations of Zionism. The Zionist left must wake up as soon as possible and define what it regards as Zionism. Blaming the Right wing for expropriating Zionism is not a solution. It does not exempt the camp that set up the State, from its duty to once again become a relevant element in the country. If the Left wants to continue being a part of the Zionist Enterprise, the onus is on itself.
About the Author: Adi Arbel is the project manager of the Institute for Zionist Strategies.
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