After election results in Israel today, Gideon Levy, the Israeli journalist, wrote an article in Haaretz entitled, “Netanyahu deserves the Israeli people, & they deserve him: If after everything, the Israeli phoenix succeeded in rising from the ashes & getting reelected, something is truly broken, possibly beyond repair.”
The article is more than plaintive; it’s a jeremiad. Levy says “The results are indicative of the direction the country is headed: A significant proportion of Israelis has finally grown detached from reality. This is the result of years’ worth of brainwashing & incitement.”
We knew that when we saw people pulling up easy chairs in the hills of Sderot to watch genocide in Gaza like it was a spectator sport. We understand Levy’s grief since he is a long-time impassioned opponent of Zionist settlements & ethnic cleansing. He calls himself a “patriotic Israeli” but rejects the bantustate solution as apartheid & calls for a democratic secular state but views it almost like a hopeless cause because of racism & rancor. He’s got a lot of evidence to support that cynicism.
One cannot deny the profound racism & mass psychosis of applauding genocide. One cannot pretend away the irrationality that insists opposition to Zionism is social hatred of Jews. But whatever their political dissonance, Israeli working people are not living in the promised land. Zionism is coming up empty handed for them. The concentrated fury directed at Palestinians is an attempt to resolve the deadly combination of Zionist false hopes & neoliberal austerity on the backs of Palestinians.
You can’t address that problem with sermons & pieties; it must be met with power, massive power–the power of Intifada combined with international solidarity, the power of BDS that extracts consequences for siding with genocide & apartheid. When you stand with the oppressed there’s no room for equivocations or mollycoddling the obtuse.
Will achieving this be easy? When has wrenching social transformation ever been easy? There was no sicker society than the US in the era of Jim Crow (the US form of apartheid). It was putrid with social hatred. The history is one of the ugliest in all of human history. The power of the Civil Rights Movement cut through that crap & transformed society. There’s been a regression which needs to be studied by the erupting civil rights movement but what’s important is that power & not bending to tyranny can change people. The social mysticism & hatred that blinds seems to fall away.
We should not buckle one iota to Zionism or let Israelis off the hook for supporting it in Netanpsycho. We need to build massive political pressure on them through exposing the lies & building BDS. But it’s way too early to give up on them. That’s not wishful thinking but a political perspective.