Not all of Israel’s disasters began with Rabin’s murder, and not all of its ills will end when Netanyahu is replaced. But when there is nothing to offer, all the blame is placed on Netanyahu.
Netanyahu arrives for a special Knesset session in memory of late Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin (portrait) in Jerusalem on October 26, 2015.
The Zionist left can’t deal with the most critical problem, the one that has shaped the face of Israel more than any other. It carries a great deal of guilt over the issue, it has no solution for it, and as a result it has lost its way. Aware of its situation, it has invented detours to divert attention away from what it’s incapable of addressing. The left has made up a narrative for itself that helps it to evade the main issue, which it also finds disturbing: After all, it is humane and moral. That way, it doesn’t have to confront the issue and to propose solutions.
In light of its losing its way, its complexes, its guilt feelings, the left redirects the debate to two, related issues: Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and the hatred for Benjamin Netanyahu. The insane obsession with both issues stems from the left’s suppressed guilt over having no answer for the occupation, the issue that defines Israel more than anything else.
This fixation on Rabin’s murder and the no-less-compulsive hatred for Netanyahu are the refuge of the left from having to deal with Israel becoming a nation of occupation and apartheid, for which it has no answer. Neither Rabin’s murder nor the harm caused by Netanyahu should be taken lightly, but when they’re the main issue it’s a sign of a grave ideological crisis.
In short, this is the narrative the left has invented for itself: Rabin was about to solve the problem of the occupation and to establish peace. Netanyahu came along exactly then, incited to and caused the murder.
Rabin was murdered, Netanyahu inherited the position of prime minister from him and destroyed Israel’s hope. That was the moment “the country was finished for me,” in the language of the left.
This narrative is not baseless, it is just very exaggerated. The exaggeration is meant to blur reality. Rabin’s murder was a difficult event, but less fateful than the left makes it out to be. Netanyahu is a harmful prime minister, but not as harmful as the left would have it. It is very doubtful that Rabin would have brought peace; the road to peace was still very long, he had barely begun to travel upon it and even the beginning was problematic.
To attribute the occupation, the blockade, the terror and the wars to Rabin’s murder is a historical misrepresentation. It may be convenient for the left, because it acquits them of any guilt. The occupation, we must recall, did not begin with the right, and the settlements were not born with Likud.
The hatred of Netanyahu is no less excessive. He deserves the left’s criticism and fierce opposition, but the demonization and the reflexive attacks on every single action says more about the left than it does about Netanyahu. The left would have taken some of the exact same actions as he did, and perhaps even worse ones at that. The worship of security, for example, is identical in both camps. The support for the settlements, too, is much more similar than it appears.
Not all of Israel’s disasters began with Rabin’s murder, and not all of its ills will end when Netanyahu is replaced. But when there is nothing to offer, all the blame is placed on Netanyahu. He caused the murder, as a result the occupation was perpetuated, because of him Israel lost its way, only because of him.
Such a balm to the tormented conscience, such relief without demanding courage, is it to wallow in the murder and to blame Netanyahu; to light a memorial candle in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv and to demonstrate against corruption.
If that is the situation, then the left doesn’t stand a chance. When there is nothing to offer, it is impossible to win in the elections. It is of course possible to continue to talk about the two-state solution, at a time when there’s no longer anywhere to establish them — for which the left is partly to blame. It’s possible to continue to mutter “Jewish and democratic,” and to flee from the choice between these mutually contradictory principles, the meaning of one of which is unclear.
It is also possible to continue to promise peace negotiations, as if that were the goal, and to know that the left has nothing just to offer in them. It is also possible to rely on another messiah from the house of David who says nothing and is victorious in the opinion polls — but when there is nothing to offer, there is no way to win.
And of course, it is possible to do things in differently: to stop mourning for Rabin and hating Netanyahu, more than he deserves, and to propose a daring alternative, one that has never been tried. But that is too much for the Zionist left, the bogus Israeli alternative to the right.