Opinion |

Israel's Rightward Lurch Is the Left's Opportunity

חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli
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Meretz headquarters after the exit polls came out. If the electoral threshold had been lowered, Meretz would have passed.
Meretz headquarters after the exit polls came out. If the electoral threshold had been lowered, Meretz would have passed.Credit: Nir Keidar
חנין מג׳אדלי - צרובה
Hanin Majadli

The election results instilled in many a sense of panic, fear, and despair, but now that the panic has subsided a bit, it’s time to ask: What now? Expectations are that Israel will tighten its control of the West Bank, accelerate construction of settlements, evict Palestinians from their lands, deepen the apartheid and blurring of the Green Line so that the State of Israel becomes Eretz Israel with enclaves of Palestinians without rights. That’s on the Palestinian side.

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On the Israeli side, alongside friction and power games over the public sphere and optics, between the leftist/secular public and the camp of Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli-Palestinian public will continue to suffer from racism, attempts to eliminate its political representation, and narrowing of its freedom of expression and action in politics, academia, and civil society. The Gaza Strip will remain besieged. The two-state dream will finally die.

This is a nightmarish, but necessary projection. This is the result of an ongoing reality of supremacism and force by the Jewish public at the expense of the Palestinian public. That’s why it’s a good thing that the government of imaginary normalcy fell apart, a “normalcy” that was code for the suspension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – suspension, not solution – when in practice, on the Palestinian side, it is not suspended even for a moment. The conflict remains active and present, leaving rivers of blood behind it.

And yet, at the end of the darkness there is also light, good news, and much to do. There is an opportunity here to sound the call for renewed activism and action toward a vision of real equality and partnership. Experience shows that harsh reality never stopped the Palestinians. This doesn’t mean that the situation can’t deteriorate further, and with dizzying speed, but this is the opportunity for the left and the democratic camp to change perceptions on the ground. Because democratic change won’t be coming from the Knesset, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Dear left, it’s not about you. It’s about the painful reality and victims of Jewish supremacism on the ground. The feeling of emptiness must be filled with real desire for real change, toward actual democracy. This human energy must be channeled into partnerships, extra-parliamentary, community-supported activism, to civil society organization and the unification of disparate struggles around the country, with the eyes on a common and just goal: equality and freedom for all. Under the current conditions, every act of resistance and solidarity with the most affected communities is important.

There is no real debate about the end of democracy, because there has never been a real democracy here to end. Half of those living in this country do not share the sense of democracy and security, and do not enjoy basic equal civil rights.

And since there is no discrete cause or event solely to blame for the frightening reality in which Israel finds itself, there is no choice but to conclude that the cause is reality feeding itself. The good news is that the frightening reality hastens the point of decision. Either apartheid deepens, or the state of all its citizens becomes closer than ever. Israel will have to choose whether to be South Africa, or the only democracy in the Middle East.

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