Friday, November 21, 2014
Loathsome Doves: Why The Israeli Left Is Losing
Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev today offers the top reasons "why the right beats the left in the battle for Israel,” explaining why the right wing has the upper hand on peace with Palestinians and sets the agenda on relations with the US. The first reason Shalev lists is the whole thing in a nutshell, underscoring why the accusations of “incitement” leveled against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were so effective. Number 14 rings my bell too, a lack of empathy on the Israeli side of things growing more pronounced in the face of rising Palestinian violence---and the growing influence of right wing, fundamentalist Judaism that asserts the primacy of Jewish life over that of others. More on Israel's empathy issues, TK.
20 top reasons why the right beats the left in the battle for Israel
By Chemi Shalev
1. Because the right has cornered the whole deal, cause and effect, chicken and egg, lock stock and barrel. First it laments that Israel has no partner, then it makes sure to undermine those that are; first it builds settlements and creates irreversible facts on the ground, then it proclaims the end of the two-state solution. It’s a perfect setup.
2. Because the right wing is a no-fault service provider while the left lives by the opposite motto: it’s not you, it’s us. The further right you go, the more anyone but you is responsible for the mess we’re in, but the further left you travel, the more you have only yourself to blame. Given a choice between those who point fingers from morning till night and those who tell them how virtuous and noble they are, most people understandably prefer the latter and opt for the flatter.
3. Because the right, no matter what it does, is always the wronged victim while the left feels guilty even when Israel is on its best behavior. Because the right has blinders on when it comes to Israel’s transgressions, while the left usually looks at them through a 500x zoom microscope.
4. Because right-wingers are on total-offence and in perpetual attack mode against their enemies, real and imagined, mainly on the left. Which leaves the left ducking the fire and scrambling for cover.
5. Because right-wingers never admit to a mistake, never apologize for anything, never concede even a point to the other side. Remember how many right wingers “proved” that the videos shot near Ramallah that showed the shooting of two Palestinian teens were a “Pallywood” fake? Have you been swamped with apologies and mea culpas ever since? Me neither.
6. Because the right has tunnel vision and is focused on one issue only, while the left seems to believe for some reason there are other worthwhile causes in the world besides the Jewish state and the procreation of its people.
7. Because, like maids and windows, right-wingers don’t do nuances. They have a one-stop, clear-cut, black-or-white, for-us-or-against-us mentality, while left-wingers live in a complex world of 50 shades of grey at least. The old hasbara joke about “Israel good, Arab bad” has become the right wing’s dogma while lefties are still figuring out what their position is in the first place.
8. Because right wing donors put their money where their mouth is, while left wingers either spread their wealth among myriad causes or prefer to stay out of the limelight altogether. Because even when you have someone like Hami Saban serve as a supposedly leftist counterweight to Sheldon Adelson, as he did at the recent Israeli American Council meeting in Washington, it turns out he doesn’t like Obama too much on the Palestinians and his policy on Iran is to “bomb the living daylights out of the sons of bitches”.
9. Because the right wing has ingeniously found a way to delegitimize measly contributions from “foreign governments” to left wing NGO’s while building separate fast tracks for untold millions of dollars to flow freely from end-of-days Evangelists, Third Temple enthusiasts and transfer- supporting trillionaires. The former, which won’t make of a difference anyway, is considered self-hating and treasonous, while the latter, which could detonate entire continents, is the epitome of Jewish patriotic pride.
10. Because when the right wing runs out of convincing arguments they can always go to their no-nonsense god and no-arguing Orthodoxy trump cards. The left, even when it gets some rabbis on its side as backup, they usually come from denominations in which everything is negotiable and up for debate.
11. Because the right wing rewrites history, plays up its role and trashes anything the left has ever done, and the left does exactly the same, but not vice versa.
12. Because no matter how far right you may go, from blowing up the temple to killing off a prime minister, you may be a “wild weed” but you’re still in the “national camp”. But if you’re on the left you have to tread carefully and watch out not to fall off the ledge, from liberal Zionism to non-Zionism to post Zionism to anti-Zionism to enemy of the state. And even if you keep completely still, the right will eventually move the goalposts so that you turn willy nilly into what you didn’t want to be.
13. Because the left is often much more preoccupied with its own internal divisions than with taking on the outside world (See “What ever happened to the Popular Front? He’s over there”)
14. Because hatred is so much more effective as a propellant and so much less tiring than making an effort to understand the other side, never mind empathizing with it.
15. Because the other side, lets face it, has its own right-wingers, or equivalents thereof, who will corroborate the right wing’s most dire predictions, and vice versa. It’s a type of symbiosis known as Synnecrosis, which, Wikipedia notes, is “detrimental to both organisms involved and eventually causes death”
16. Because the left is always attracted to living in other liberal democracies while the right wing feels that its back is to the wall with nowhere to go.
17. Because the right always forward and outward and never looks back while the left gazes at its navel, looks over its shoulder and agonizes over where it went wrong.
18. Because while the left is in meditation, yoga, gym, Pilates or Soulcycle, the right-wingers are out there, demonstrating, building or creating a ruckus, actually doing something tangible for their cause.
19. Because the right has only one source for its news and believes the worst of its enemies while the left usually suffers from sensory overdose and too much information. (See: Political Polarization & Media Habits)
20. Because, most right wingers, let’s face it, are flesh-eating carnivores, while leftists have become vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, macrobiotic, peanut-allergic feinschmeckers. So it’s usually just a matter of time before they get devoured.