Thus Spoke the Left: A Political-Cultural Lexicon Following the Document Called “The Manifesto of the National Left”

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

A Jew does not censor a Jew1! “The only democracy in the Middle East” got into action in order to protect The Manifesto of the National Left, whose selling in Israeli bookstores an ultra-nationalist group has managed to cancel.

The Manifesto was written by former aide to PM Ehud Barak and by a playwright

It is an attempt to draw conclusions from the ongoing electoral failure of the so-called Zionist left and to redefine it in a manner which will render it a viable “patriotic” political force with the ability to lead the nation.

Having read the document of the national left, one can establish that if it is to be drawn out of the bookstores, it is due to its populist qualities, the clichés and the ignorance which borders on slander.

The authors of the Manifesto write the following about themselves:

“What will happen should we discover our positions are not “left”, and that we are in fact right wing -supporters2 in the closet?”

Well, after reading the Manifesto, it turns out that it was written in order to flank the right from the right regarding racism, and from below regarding populism. The entire text is written in the language of an aging, nationalist, arrogant Palmach3 veteran, as if Rehavam Ze’evi’s spirit4 gained control over the authors.

When we focus on a few terms from the text, the ideological world of the national “left”5 is exposed.

National “Left” / Humanistic Left

Almost in any period throughout history when the terms “left” and “national” or “socialism” and “national” merged into one word, a fascist heavy-handed monster arose. This syntax is valid also for the state of Israel, and so we, a group of left activists, have decided to accept the derogatory term “small” (an erroneous spelling of the Hebrew word for “left”, hinting also at the English word “small”) and wear it proudly, as a badge that separates us from the national “left”.

The UN Resolution – the Rock of Our Existence

The authors of the Manifesto claim that the Jews accepted the UN’s 1947 partition plan, and that the Palestinians did not. That’s why a war broke out, and the Palestinians goofed up; that’s life. That is, the existence of the state of Israel is justified by the UN resolution. Without getting into the historical debate on what exactly happened, there is a consensus that at the end of the war, following the armistice agreement, one state remained – the state of Israel. As the state of Palestine had not been established, the UN adopted resolution 194: the right of the refugees to return.

So if Israel draws its legitimacy from the UN resolution, the right of return of the refugees is legally intertwined in this legitimacy, and there is no legitimacy for Israel without acknowledging the right of return.

The national “left” denies another truth: it is mainly its spiritual ancestors who are responsible for the refugee problem, for the violation of the UN resolution, and for the main practice of the state of Israel ever since the armistice agreement, which is the expropriation of the indigenous population’s lands and their transfer to the hands of the new lords of the land, namely the Jews of the state of Israel. What started in Iqrit and Kafr Bir’im6 has never stopped for a moment, and is still taking place in Sheikh Jarrah, Ajami and Bil’in7. The authors of the Manifesto are proud of these actions.

Right and “Left” / Left

The authors of the Manifesto write:

Rehavam (Gandhi) Ze’evi’s “Moledet”8 movement once had a slogan: “we [shall be] here – they [shall be] there”. “Meretz”9 once had the slogan: “to bid the Territories farewell [“shalom”, the Hebrew word for peace]”. Actually, this is the same principle.

As opposed to the national “left”, which sees itself as part of the national right and seeks to make the Palestinian vanish on the other side of the wall, for us on the left, the bi-national reality (whether by means of a one-state or a two-state solution) is not merely compulsory: it is mainly the realization of a dream for both Jewish and Palestinian emancipation.

Settlers / Leftists

The national “left” blames the settlers for the entire occupation, as if the settlers are an external group which is not a part of the state of Israel.
The left, on the other hand, knows that the national “left” is almost solely responsible for the occupation, and that the settlers are merely the sighthounds. The latter, as well as the former, serve as an integral part of the occupation’s machinery, of the injustices. The national “left” acts as the master who, having sicked his dog on the neighbors’ son, claims in his defense: “It’s not me, it’s him” (pointing at the dog).

Left / Ultra-Orthodox

The left asks the Hasidim of Belz to remain in the Shenkin area10 and live together. The left sympathizes with the ultra-Orthodox, as these carry the scent of the Diaspora, and are still not immersed in militarism.

The Wall / Life in Common (Ta’ayush11)

The national “left” adores the wall, the left loathes it. The wall is not a protective means, but a means for domination and land theft. The wall not only separates Palestinians from Jews, but also Palestinians from other Palestinians. It does not cover the entire border, and any young, healthy Palestinian can climb his way across it in many places (it is not the wall, as is widely believed, but complex political circumstances, that have caused the number of terror attacks in Israel to decrease.) The national “left” has helped to crush the Palestinians into five distinct groups, that cannot even intermarry (East Jerusalem, Israel’s 1948 borders, the West Bank, Gaza, the Palestinian Diaspora). As long as the five cannot be one, this way or another, there is no equality, there is no justice, and there is no left.
The left believes in coexisting in the same place, even when groups are not able to generate common ground, as any other possibility marks the next refugee. Thus on the left you will see a lesbian marching together with a Palestinian woman, both fighting against the separation wall, you will see Menachem Begin’s grandson with Ehud Olmert’s daughter marching with them, and alongside all these people, you will see a secular Muslim shoulder to shoulder with a religious Jew, all against the separation wall.

Jabotinsky / Ben-Gurion / Begin / Peres

The authors of the Manifesto distort history and write:

“The left believes that you and I will change the world. … The right believes that if what exists now continues until the end of eternity we shall all reach salvation.”

The Manifesto describes Jabotinsky and his disciples as the ones to oppose any change, and the Ben-Gurion left as dynamic and revolutionary. Don’t confuse them with the facts. Jabotinsky wrote: “There he shall quench his thirst with plenty and happiness, the son of Arabia, son of Nazareth and my son”. It was Begin, Jabotinsky’s disciple, who signed the agreement that gave back land12, and it was he who opposed the imposition of a military regime in the Galilee and the Triangle13, where the Israeli apartheid state was established. Their complete opposite is Shimon Peres, who has managed to sabotage every dialog for peace, and who has founded the Peres Center for Peace on Arab land in Jaffa; a man whose only revolutions were the introduction of nuclear arms to the Middle East (the authors of the Manifesto take pride in this dubious achievement) and the creation of the settlement precedent in Qedumim-Sebastia.

Yasser Arafat / Yitzhak Rabin

The authors of the Manifesto describe Arafat thus:

“A vile scoundrel, a ridiculous clown, an abhorrent murderer who robbed billions donated by the world for the Palestinian people and deposited them in his antipathetic wife’s private accounts.”

This is clearly a repulsive text, which degrades the leader and symbol of the Palestinian people, much like false anti-Semitic writings. The Manifesto lauds Yitzhak Rabin for his efforts for peace and his ability to change. Rabin and Arafat got along well and trusted each other in the months that preceded the murder.14 The left, as opposed to the “left”, does not sympathize with the two. It never admired them or the Oslo Accords.15 But the left knew to credit them for the brave move. Only a rare combination of insolence, lies and racism enables praising Rabin while denouncing Arafat. They did it together, for crying out loud!

The use of the claims about Arafat’s corruption in order to deprive the Palestinian state of its right to exist also repeats itself throughout the Manifesto, against the backdrop of our current reality, when every day we hear something new about corruption among most of the Israeli leadership.

Yaniv and Hasfari write that “people are judged by their deeds”. Well, Arafat signed in Sharm el-Sheikh, and it doesn’t matter if it happened only because Mubarak cursed him. For his people, Arafat slept on an iron bed. Ehud Barak jumped-ship and did not sign, and slept in his luxurious home at Tel Aviv’s Alrov Towers.

The Hilltop Youth16 / the IDF

The authors of the Manifesto write the following about the hilltop youth:

“Jewish youths who are capable of beating an old Palestinian woman who is trying to harvest the olives in her family’s lot, as did her ancestors for hundreds of years, have lost the right to be called Jews. They burn the crop in Palestinian fields, they cut and uproot olive trees, they beat and shoot infants and elderly people … You look at them and your eyes can not believe what they see.”

It is true, but half the truth is worse than a lie. It is not hilltop youths who stand at the checkpoints where women about to give birth are greeted with burning contempt, and it is not hilltop youths who sowed terrible death in Gaza. It is not hilltop youths who shoot us in cold blood in Bil’in, and it is not hilltop youths who stand guard with cocked weapons to supervise the apartheid land theft committed by… the hilltop youth. It is the IDF which does all that, on behalf of most of the Jews in Zion, and thus, according to your principles, it is the Jews in Zion who lose the right to be called Jews!

Left (2)

And that small group of “small” leftists which you mock for the presence in Bil’in against the wall every Friday – on Thursdays they protect Sudanese refugees. And on Wednesdays they can be found at the Akerstein factory in Yeruham, aiding exploited workers (Jews, by the way). Not only do they dismantle the terrible wall between Jews and Arabs, they also guard the wall of the morals of the prophets, which are the opposite of the morals of the occupiers.

Professor Leibowitz17 Is Turning Over in his Grave

The authors of the Manifesto write about Professor Leibowitz:

“He was probably the smartest Jew in the last century.”

The mere comparison, expressed in the Manifesto, between obeying the laws of the state and following the religious commandments would horrify Professor Leibowitz. For him the state was but a necessary tool, certainly not the object of love and awe.

Leibowitz would have probably begun his article about the Manifesto in the following manner: “I have yet to decide whether the authors of the Manifesto are completely ignorant or completely evil.”

Piggish Capitalism / Capitalism as Piggery

A whole chapter is dedicated to the capitalist pigs, but they are then led back in through the back door, and God forbid if you dare say “socialism”. Unfortunately, it is not enough to talk about the capitalist pigs, and one should also speak of the piggery that is the essence of capitalism. Capitalist pigs change but the method always remains. And how can attorney Eldad Yaniv who represents the capital-occupation symbiosis (for example, he represents the municipality of Ariel18 and powerful employers) preach?

The Woman Does Not Exist

The left believes that the two most important struggles in the realm that lies between the (Mediterranean) Sea and the (Jordan) River are liberation and equality for the Palestinian and liberation and equality for the woman. The left believes it is a joint complementary struggle. The woman, in our realm, is traded as a sex slave on Allenby Street19, in what is called “an erotic club”, and is murdered in Ramle or in Acre, for what is called “family honor”, and there is no protector, for the Manifesto of the National Left is so masculine, that the woman has been left out and forgotten…

Fixing the Sewer – Present Absentee

The authors of the Manifesto write:

“If you want to talk to them (to the Arabs) about national service20, connect them to the sewerage.”

For historic justice, the only ones to have ever done that, if only for a short period, were Aryeh Deri from the Shas party21 and Moshe Arens from the Likud. If their counterparts from the national “left” have ever done anything, it was but to win votes. It cannot be helped: “our Arabs” are Palestinians, and when the national “left” sent its glorious army to sow destruction in Gaza, it turned out that many families from the Galilee lost their dear ones, and realized once again that they are Palestinians. And when Eldad Yaniv called for “killing Gaza without mercy and without batting an eyelid”, the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens realized that even if he solved all of their sewer problems, he would continue to wish for them to be transparent when walking on their land.

The conclusion should be clear. Only when the manifesto of the left is written and signed by both Palestinians and Jews living between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, will it be a true relevant document of the left. Only then shall we – the “small” – take off our badge, and once again proudly call ourselves left.

1 A paraphrase on the slogan used in the anti-pullout campaign

2 “Likud” is the main right-wing party in Israel, currently led by PM Binyamin Netanyahu

3 The regular fighting force of the unofficial army of the Jewish community during the British mandate in Palestine; its members later formed the backbone of the IDF high command for many years, and were prominent in Israeli politics, literature and culture.

4 A right-wing Israeli general, politician and historian (assassinated in 2001)

5 As we in the radical left do not consider most of the so-called “national left” or “Zionist left” as a true left, we will refer to it with quotation marks, and reserve the use of the word without quotation marks for the radical left. As explained, in Israel the national “left” is often referred to using the normal Hebrew word for left, whereas for the radical left a derogatory term is used.

6 Christian Palestinian villages whose inhabitants were forced to flee during the 1948 war, having been given a promise they would be allowed to return once the war was over. That promise was never fulfilled, even after a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court to allow the return.

7 Bil’in has become the symbol of the Palestinian non-violent struggle against the occupation after years of weekly demonstrations against the wall. That struggle has recently reached the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, whose Palestinian residents are being evicted while Jewish settlers occupy their homes. Ajami is an Arab neighborhood in Jaffa, which right wing religious groups are now trying to take over.

8 Hebrew for “homeland”; a small right-wing party advocating the notion of a “voluntary” transfer of the Arab population of the West Bank

9 A left-wing Zionist party, partly associated with the radical left, partly with the national left

10 Located in the center of the city and presenting a diverse assortment of shops, restaurants, cafés, other businesses and street shows, Shenkin Street is a symbol of the young, open and liberal culture of Tel Aviv. Secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews reside in the neighborhood peacefully side by side.

11 Arabic for “coexistence” or “life in common”, and the name of a group formed by Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs,- which works against the occupation and against the discrimination of Palestinians in Israel and in the West Bank

12 As part of the peace treaty with Egypt, signed in 1979, Israel had totally withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula by 1982.

13 Areas in northern Israel, where many Arab citizens of Israel reside (in the Triangle they are the vast majority)

14 PM Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995.

15 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, officially signed in Washington, DC on September 13, 1993 in the presence of Arafat, Rabin and US President Bill Clinton

16 A term for young Jewish lads who settle in illegal outposts on uninhabited hills in the West Bank

17 Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz, an Israeli philosopher and scientist known for his outspoken, often controversial opinions on Judaism, ethics, religion and politics

18 One of the largest settlements, located in the central West Bank

19 A major street in Tel Aviv

20 Exempt from military service – which is compulsory for other ethnicities in Israel – Israeli Arabs are often criticized for not opting for voluntary national service.

21 An ultra-Orthodox party identified with Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews