ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | The Demise of Left and Right 18.12.04

The Demise of Left and Right

18 December 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

The super optimism of a "New Middle East" collapsed over four years ago when the planned outbreak of massive Palestinian violence in Sept. 2000 caught then PM Ehud Barak, Labor and the Left by surprise. Yasser Arafat & Co. wanted neither a two-state solution, nor to negotiate an end to the conflict, but rather sought to force Israel into submission. Support for the Left shifted to the center and only an extremist remnant groveled to negotiate a peace agreement as the Palestinians detonated themselves in the midst of civilian targets.

Then came the turn of the Right. The Palestinian demographic explosion made a mockery of the "Greater Land of Israel" mantra. PM Ariel Sharon, one the fathers of the settlement movement in the West Bank and Gaza made his two-state solution clear to everyone, including the settler movement when he spoke of "painful concessions". Although the Messianic Right refuses to listen, the secular, Likud hard line knows the game is up. Any opposition to Sharon's ideas are just posturing and that includes Finance Minister Benyamin Netanyahu. Today even far right National Union leader Avigdor Lieberman advocates the two-state solution to avoid the demographic time bomb and a bi-national state. Just that he would cede certain Israeli Arab villages just to the west of the 1967 line and swap them for Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

In short, both the ideological Left and Right are dying. Sharon's pragmatic centrist approach (with US backing) has won the day. But the story is far from over.

Israel now faces the clash of the diocentric (God driven) world vs. the anthrocentric (humanity driven). In the former one does according to God's will as expressed through rabbinic verdicts such as "It is forbidden to cede any part of the Land of Israel." In the latter, the people, meaning the government and Knesset will make all the decisions necessary. The former is Messianic and absolute, the latter is neither. The former expects Godly intervention to save the Jewish People and the Land of Israel while the latter leaves responsibility with the State of Israel to save itself. The two can be expected to clash, especially over settlement removal and although the anthrocentric adherents are by far the majority, the diocentric believers are a much more ideological and determined bunch.

With the expected anthrocentric victory, another clash will ensue, with the issue being the future regional (or not) integration into the Mideast. Sharon and the vast Centrist majority prefer an American and even European direction. Israel as part of the West. Those who wrote up the "Geneva Understandings" (Nov. 2003), wittingly or not, see Israel as an integral part of the Middle East, despite the fact that this is not explicitly written in the document. One only needs to extrapolate 25 years into the future and Israel becomes dependent on the Arab world for its existence.

The Palestinian violence and birthrate have helped Israelis clarify their immediate and medium term future. It cannot be said that the Palestinians did Israel a "favor", but they certainly forced the Jews to reflect on their own future. Forget loving or hating them, just put the Palestinians on the other side of the fence and let us get on with building the Jewish State. So says the consensus, at least for the moment.