Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Israeli Left is a Potemkin Village

Recent charges that the NGO Breaking the Silence has engaged in espionage in addition to its ‘normal’ activity of collecting and disseminating unverifiable information to embarrass the IDF have stirred a hornet’s nest on the Left.
Someone hearing about the affair from outside of Israel probably gets the impression that the nation is bitterly divided. It is not. Israelis overwhelmingly oppose the activities of BTS and other left-wing organizations.
...The recent Pew survey of political and religious attitudes in Israel found that only 8% of Israeli Jews self-identify as part of the Left; the rest place themselves in the center (55%) or on the right (37%).
...Nevertheless, this 8% has remarkable power inside Israel, as well as the ability to project its voice to the world. The Left absolutely dominates the creative and performing arts here. Exhibitions feature their work, prizes and grants are given to them by committees made up of their ideological twins. Their films and books picture Israel to the world. Try making a right-wing film in Israel! The universities, at least in the humanities and social sciences, are solidly packed with leftist instructors. These academics serve as visiting professors at universities in the US and Europe on a regular basis.
...Finally, there are the numerous leftist NGOs like
  • Breaking The Silence,
  • B’Tselem, and
  • publications like +972 Magazine,
which in engage in anti-Israel propaganda within Israel and abroad, legal activities against the state and the IDF, and which cooperate with anti-Israel politicians and UN officials. While they are staffed by Israelis and registered as Israeli organizations, they get the greatest part of their funding from foreign sources, especially the European Union and individual European governments.
All of these, in addition to their ability to throw obstacles in the path of the government in Israel, have a huge information footprint outside of Israel. So it is no wonder that people think that many Israelis are on the Left.
They are not. The Left in Israel is dying, strangled by the reality of the Second and Third Intifadas, the hostility of Hamas, and the knowledge that no concession to the Arabs can end the threat from Iran, Hezbollah and Da’esh. The kibbutzim, formerly leftist strongholds, have become mere neighborhoods. The Army, formerly led by left-wing (but still Zionist) kibbutzniks now has more and more young officers who wear knitted kipot. They will move up the ladder to the top spots.
The Left is increasingly composed of aging ideologues and bitter anti-state extremists. It is on life support with money flowing from Europe. If that stopped – and attempts are being made to at least control it – Israel would look quite different from outside.
A correspondent recently wrote to me saying that he was worried by the lack of a will to fight and pointed to the “rot of left-liberalism” weakening Israel and the West and even “moral decay” in Israel. He pointed to the remark by Ehud Olmert that “Israel is tired of fighting…” that I quoted in a recent post about Israel’s response to the Iranian threat.
I would like to assure him that at least in the case of Israel, he should not be too quick to think that the culture as a whole is decadent, just because the ‘rotten’ Left has such a loud voice. Unlike Europe and the US, the real Israel is getting stronger, psychologically as well as militarily.
The Israeli Left is a Potemkin village, a Hollywood set. There is no substance, only surface. Don’t let its big mouth fool you.
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