The absence of the Left

If Balad, the extremist part of the Joint List refuses to vote to confirm a Gantz-led government, the minority option becomes a non-starter.

A picture of Jordanian King Abdullah and his father, the late King Hussein, is seen as a girl visits the "Island of Peace" in an area known asNaharayim in Hebrew and Baquora in Arabic, on the Jordanian side of the border with Israel November 9, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A picture of Jordanian King Abdullah and his father, the late King Hussein, is seen as a girl visits the "Island of Peace" in an area known asNaharayim in Hebrew and Baquora in Arabic, on the Jordanian side of the border with Israel November 9, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Two days after the election, when the final results were published by the Central Elections Committee, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz tweeted “someone was celebrating too soon.”
Gantz’s tweet was directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared victory immediately after the election ended. And even after the final results came in, and Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc received only 58 seats, he continued saying that “this is a great victory” for the Right, for the Likud, and for himself.
In light of the results, Gantz announced his intention to form a coalition which he reportedly plans to swear-in by March 23.
But the cracks are growing. First, were Yoaz Hendel and Tzvi Hauser of Blue and White, who originally came from the right-wing Telem party and ruled out the option of sitting in a government supported by the Joint List.
Then, Labor-Gesher-Meretz’s Orly Levy-Abecassis announced that she, too, does not see herself committed to supporting a government endorsed by the Joint List.
The loss of these three votes shrinks Gantz’s 62-58 majority to just 59.
If Balad, the extremist part of the Joint List refuses to vote to confirm a Gantz-led government, the minority option becomes a non-starter.
The partners of Blue and White in this bloc are Labor-Gesher-Meretz, which has left-wing Meretz, center-left Labor and center-right Gesher; and Yisrael Beytenu, which is anything but a center-left party.
Blue and White itself is a continuation of those who tried to challenge Netanyahu in the past decade – a centrist party which tried to pretend to be a softer version of Likud. But, in the bottom line, many of its members represent the same ideas as the Likud – they support partial annexation of the West Bank as well as the US peace plan. Even when it comes to the integration of Arabs, they stress that they want “a Jewish majority.”
This is not a center-left party. The one description that works is “anti-Bibi” to describe what unites its members. But even this notion is now in doubt, when some of its members are drawing a line they won’t cross even if it means that Netanyahu remains in power.
This understanding should be a warning for all of Israel – “anyone but Bibi” is not an ideology.
Even if Gantz will eventually succeed in forming a coalition – how long will it last? What will be its agenda on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What does it have to say on matters of religion and state, welfare, economic policy? The public knows nothing.
The Center-Left should present the public with new ideas, that will be presented in contrast to the Right.
After the failure of Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000, and the subsequent eruption of the Second Intifada, it seemed like the public had lost its faith in the Left, and since then it, too, has failed to provide a coherent, convincing opposition to the Right and to the Likud.
If the Left wants to prove to the public that the two-state solution is feasible, it needs to work at it. One way would be to establish contacts throughout the Arab world and to show the public that a different future is possible.
A left-wing party could integrate Arab members into leading positions, and challenge the Joint List, which declared that it won’t sit in any government.
It could also tone down the anti-religious rhetoric. Throughout the years, the Israeli Left became a closed club of what appears to be mostly secular Ashkenazim. It failed to understand that the country’s population is becoming more traditional and families are more mixed between Mizrahim (Jews from the Middle East and North Africa) and Ashkenazim (Jews from Central and Eastern Europe). Ethnicity plays less and less a role.
This is not a call to support the Left. This is a call to support the country.
For 15 months, Israel has been stuck without a government. The pro-Netanyahu bloc has repeatedly failed to gain a majority in the Knesset and the anti-Netanyahu bloc has proved it is not a real ideological bloc and that, when it comes down to the wire, its members can’t even sit with one another.
For the sake of Israeli democracy, we need a real debate about ideas, values and plans. Then, the public can decide whether its want the ideology of the Right or the Left.
There is more to this country than just being a supporter or a critic of Netanyahu.


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