What Israeli left?

Many in the West, including the Zionist Diaspora, talk about the Israeli Left as bravely challenging Israel’s descent into a fascist nation.

Hugh Naylor writes in The National that this is a convenient myth:

Left-leaning Jewish groups in the United States defied the pro-Israel lobby and criticised the US veto last week of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

In Israel, however, the veto was hardly mentioned. Few among the country’s peace groups and rights organisations chose to publicly condemn it, prompting concern about the country’s ability, and willingness, to come to a negotiated peace with the Palestinians.

Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent Palestinian politician who maintains ties to Israeli activists, said: “It’s amazing. I expected that they would have said something immediately. I really think there is self-censorship, intimidation. The peace movement has become quite reticent.”

Yet for many Israelis, the muted response comes as no surprise.

Israel’s peace movement and many human-rights organisations have downsized and receded in influence since the Oslo peace accords negotiations in the 1990s.

This mirrors a similarly dramatic decline of Israel’s left-leaning political establishment in a Knesset increasingly filled by right-wing, pro-settler parliamentarians.

Gershon Baskin, the Israeli co-director of the Israel-Palestine Centre for Research and Information, said: “You have to put this in context. There is no peace camp anymore. The progressive part of Israeli society is disjointed, fragmented and small. The majority of Israelis since the second intifada have certainly turned into peace sceptics.”

The blunt indictment of Israeli society offered by Ronnie Barkan, an Israeli who belongs to the Anarchists Against the Wall, a fringe group of activists, would seem to embody this polarisation. “The vast majority of Israelis are nationalistic and racist,” he said.

“There is nothing new in the absolute, unconditional support coming from the US toward Israel and its crimes.”

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