Like a regular ritual, it returns each year: the ideological dispute about left and right in Israel. It always happens during the week commemorating the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995 by a member of the radical right wing.
Truth be told, the dialogue regarding left and right is hardly relevant anymore. Prime ministers from the right gave away no less land — and perhaps even more — than prime ministers from the left side of the political spectrum. The boundaries between right and left of long ago — from the veteran Pai party on one side and the National Religious party on the other — have long been blurred. Today, people vote for a personality, the leader of the party. The party’s platform is of less interest.
Israel has learned to live with its Arab neighbors. Netanyahu has learned the method and is implementing it in the best way possible. In the Middle East, all one needs is time, and Binyamin Netanyahu is a master at delaying and deferring. That’s how he managed to get through eight years of former U.S. President Barack Obama — he delayed the implementation of the “peace” deals with the Palestinians in various ways. That is also how he continues to survive as he prepares for the “Deal of the Century” crafted by U.S. President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner.
The left once represented the socialist worldview, which has long not been the exclusive domain of the left. The left today also includes bourgeois members of society who insist on preserving the top ten percent. They are worlds apart from the thoughts and hopes of the founders of the historical Mapam party. Likewise, there are among the right many peacemakers and those who give away lands, who took the radical path that is far from the hawkish positions of the heads of the old right.
Take Olmert and Livni, for example. Livni comes from a Beitar-affiliated family and she served as a Likud minister. She also led the negotiating team with the Palestinians and was among the initiators and organizers of the Annapolis conference. And Olmert? He was also an avowed Likudnik, and he was ready to give Yerushalayim — including the Kosel — to the Palestinians.
The “right” and “left” are no longer. The Blue and White Party, headed by Benny Gantz, is not necessarily left, even if Netanyahu insists on classifying it as such. The first ten people on its list include a number of renowned right-wing figures. The center has taken over public dialogue, and today people choose personalities over principles.
Still and all, that hatred for the right and whoever represents the right remains imbued in the hearts of the masses. “The right murdered Rabin” is the accepted “truth,” and it won’t help all those who try to explain that one radical student is not necessarily “the right.” The stereotyping has remained the same: Those identifying with the right are ignorant people whose destiny is to be trampled, and those identifying with the left are the cream and elite of society and are, naturally, permitted to trample anyone who is not them.
On that night of the murder, next to Ichilov Hospital, a handful of Meretz and leftist people stood and screamed, “Death to Bibi!” These are harsh words that no one has ever answered for because there is one side that is allowed to protest and holler and there is another that is not allowed to. The left doesn’t understand what is problematic about this, either. They are still convinced, 43 years after the “turnabout” of Menachem Begin, that the state was stolen from them.
Rabin’s murder was definitely a turning point that planted hope in the hearts of the left that the end of right-wing rule would come and that they could regain power. The left went to elections half a year after the assassination, confident of victory. That same night, a young American turned up and captured the premiership. It was a humiliation, and the left promised to take revenge on Netanyahu.
Go explain to them that no one stole their state. The state simply reverted back to the hands of the citizens.