The Righteous Fury of the Israeli Left – Ilan Pappé

'One can only draw some hope, in these dark times, from the huge and growing solidarity movement all over the world.' Ilan Pappé (Photo: via @DemetKaratas Twitter page)

By Ilan Pappe – The Palestine Chronicle  

There is no middle ground anymore. There is no way of supporting the liberal occupier, the progressive ethnic cleanser and the leftist genocider.

It is hard to write on anything that is not aimed at informing people of the genocide taking place and adding our voice to those who are doing all they can to stop it.

This notion is reinforced by such tragic estimations as, for example, a recent statement by the World Health Organization, that every ten minutes, a child is killed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

However, one can only draw some hope, in these dark times, from the huge and growing solidarity movement all over the world. This movement doesn’t cave in to scare tactics employed by governments and politicians, and is advocating for an immediate ceasefire.

As horrific as this chapter in the history of modern Palestine is, it is unfortunately not a game changer.

The basic constellation of powers – locally, regionally and globally – will remain the same.

This might be more transformative if the fight spreads to include an uprising in the West Bank and inside Israel, and the opening of fronts in the east and north of Israel. As this piece is being written, this has not yet unfolded.

The political elites of the Global North and some of the Global South will continue to provide international immunity for Israel’s criminal policies on the ground.  Yet their civil societies will continue by and large to stand behind the Palestinian liberation movement.

On the ground, the military imbalance between Israel and the Palestinians – despite the surprise attack – will remain the same, and quite a few Arab states will eventually continue the normalization process.

Also, the struggle in Israel between the messianic settlers and the secular Jews fighting over their own versions of apartheid will continue.

And it is in this context, that I would like to focus on the way that liberal Zionists, mainly through the newspaper Haaretz – but also with the support of liberal Zionists around the world – loyally stand behind Israel’s actions. This incomprehensible logic is also reflected in the way western powers justify their immunity to any accountability regarding the genocide in Gaza.

One after the other, main spokespersons for the Zionist Left publish daily op-eds in Haaretz, where they give vent to their righteous fury against what they call the Global Left.

Their anger is worth analyzing, if only just for the purpose of reminding us once more why there is very little hope for change from within Israel.

Zionist Left in a Limbo

The Zionist Left in Israel is in a limbo.

On the one hand, it is ostracized by Jewish society as, at best, being naïve and, at worst, as being accused of betrayal. This is in reaction to their support for the two-state solution and the call to end the occupation. This alienation, of course, is now more acute after the events of October 7.

On the other hand, they are not considered, and rightly so, genuine allies of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

The Israeli Left’s biggest hope was that the Global Left, as they call it, would share the same language and attitude regarding the October 7 operation by Hamas; namely to be unconditionally behind Israel.

The Israeli Left was outraged that, in the eyes of the Global Left, the Hamas operation did not absolve Israel from its past criminal policies nor did it provide Israel with a green light for its genocidal policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

To their great surprise, the Global Left in its entirety was galvanized behind the call to “Stop the War” and “Free Palestine”, rather than echoing their government’s repeated response of “We support Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Israel and Colonialism

What is most illuminating – in the dialogue the liberal Zionists have with themselves on the pages of Haaretz – is their vicious attack on any one associating colonialism with Israel.

For some reason, they chose Judith Butler as the main culprit, which would leave many of us disappointed, as we devoted our careers to frame Zionism as settler colonialism, probably going back to the 1960s.

In fact, today, the framing of Zionism and Israel as a settler-colonial project is a consensual issue among all the leading scholars on the Middle East, and it is rejected as an accurate paradigm only among mainstream Israeli academia.

The Global Left is guilty of two ‘sins’, in the eyes of the liberal Zionists: one, it refers to Israel as a settler-colonial state and two, it provides a context for the Hamas attack on October 7.

No Middle Ground 

This self-righteousness and fury is not just typical to the Zionist Left. You will hear it from actors in Hollywood, journalists and mainstream academics in the Global North, who suddenly have to take a stand: Are they with the liberation movement or against it?

There is no middle ground anymore. There is no way of supporting the liberal occupier, the progressive ethnic cleanser and the leftist genocider.

The attempt to frame the stance I am calling for as racist or antisemitic will not hold water. It is a matter of where you would see yourself at this critical juncture in history, and how you value your own sense of self respect.

At least, a small ray of hope appeared on my horizon last week. A high school history teacher in Israel was arrested on November 10 for mentioning the context of the Hamas attacks on social media.

Unlike the lost souls on the liberal Israeli Left, this brave teacher reminded his students of the atrocities Israel perpetrated over the years, the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves, and the need for Israel to respect international law.

Such a view is a crime in Israel and, now, the British Home Office wishes to make it a crime in Britain as well.

This is indeed the time for people with moral courage, as the struggle for freedom and liberation will be a long one and needs such allies to support it.

– Ilan Pappé is a professor at the University of Exeter. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, The Modern Middle East, A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, and Ten Myths about Israel. He is the co-editor, with Ramzy Baroud of ‘Our Vision for Liberation.’ Pappé is described as one of Israel’s ‘New Historians’ who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel’s creation in 1948. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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1 Comment

  1. In the sixties or seventies, iirc, Bob Dylan came out with a song with the words: “Nobody has to guess/ that Baby can’t be blessed/ till she finally sees that/ she’s like all the rest”
    Israel is so much like any other settler-colonial nation it’s not even funny – at points I am reminded of Australia, of the US and Canada at others, of New Zealand at others, and what is most frightening, of Algeria at others – particularly when I remember Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger, and the incident where Meursault kills a relative of the Arab woman who’s been abused by her French lover, and shrugs it off …

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