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The New Israeli Consensus

July 30, 2014

There is now an Israeli consensus on the Palestinians, a coalition comprising everyone except the very radical left. Ran Baratz, the editor of Mida, recently looked at why consensus has formed in the historically contentious world of Israeli politics. The result of the Gaza disengagement and the dashed hopes of the Israeli left is one contributing factor:

It’s no wonder, then, that the Zionist left feels betrayed by Gaza. As far as they are concerned, the Palestinians received the opportunity of a lifetime to show the hysterical right that the left understands what will truly appease the Palestinians, and that it is no less politically astute than the security minded right. The stage was completely prepared for this peaceful play to act itself out. The production stayed on top of things, the extras were great, the orchestra international, the tunes beautiful and the play Shakespearean. But the star of the show – the cursed Gaza – decided to rewrite its role. It fulfilled all the doomsday prophecies of the right and then some.

But, Baratz argued, there’s more to it. First, the Arab Spring has suspended dreams of a New Middle East. Israelis have had to confront the unpredictability beyond their borders and the difficulties posed by the fevers of Arab nationalism and Islamic radicalism when Israel’s largest minority is Arab. Second, Israel’s international support is without recent precedent, even including Egypt. The result?

Hamas’ tunnel war against Israel revived a Zionist consensus buried for decades under the weight of political debates, authentic internal struggles, and no small amount of escapism. The nation today is uniquely united, and it is experiencing a feeling of national unity and old-new solidarity, a sentiment that can redefine political discourse and the boundaries of Zionist identity…. Suddenly, the Zionist left sounds a lot less like Amos Oz or David Grossman and a lot more like David Ben-Gurion or Berl Katznelson. 
This atmosphere puts the extreme left in a state of cognitive shock. Up until now, it hid under the wings of the Zionist left, receiving legitimacy to act under its aegis. But now the extreme left feels rejected and unwanted. Its activists are driven away, its demonstrations are diverted and run into counter demonstrations, public opinion is far less tolerant of them, and the Zionist left is not too quick to defend them. The Israeli public now knows exactly what the fruits of the extreme left’s activities look like, and because the Zionist left supports this operation without hesitation, the last thing it wants to see is another Goldstone report. Herein lies perhaps the most important lesson from the changes we have gone through as an Israeli and Zionist society. The process of sobriety which the Zionist left is undergoing, an important and encouraging process in every respect, will have to include a period of accounting with regard to the anti-Zionist and anti-national activity of the extreme left.

More about: America, Israel, and the Middle East  • Zionism