I hear no silence

An op-ed in the New York Times (by Mairav Zonszein) claimed that the Left in Israel had been silenced by intimidation. It was a strike against one of the core values of democracy. Or, a form of delegitimization. Surprisingly, as Israel Matzav points out, an op-ed in Haaretz confirms the allegation is nonsense:

But we haven’t been silenced. We’ve just failed to make our case. For a dozen years, we have failed to win a majority in the Knesset. We have failed to convince other Israelis that the cost of holding onto the occupied territories is greater than the dangers of relinquishing them. In Zonszein’s analysis, this is because a right-wing cabal has shut us up, and there’s little we can do about it.

The truth is, we’ve failed because we’ve failed, and there is a lot we can do about it. Rather than whine in the New York Times about how we’ve been silenced, we need to figure out how to speak to other Israelis so that they will listen. The answer is not to convince readers of the New York Times that Israel is no longer a democracy. The answer is to accept that Israel is a democracy, and that democracy demands that we speak to our fellow citizens and listen to them, that we persuade them rather than dismiss them. Zonszein argues that democratic politics in Israel are hopeless. The fact is, it is in Israeli democracy that our greatest hope lies.

Read Israel Matzav’s analysis in full, here.

Where I might differ in that analysis is that I believe there are ideas that the Left in Israel could get backing for, but to do so they would need to jettison some articles of faith. And I think they know that, but are reluctant to do so. For example, blaming the ‘settlements’ and construction there for every so called setback in peace negotiations, just does not work. When you get down to the details, and the possibilities attainable through negotiation, you see it’s a handy excuse, but it doesn’t stand up to examination. It’s a complex situation, beyond the scope of this post, but for now it’s enough to note that I will be keeping my eye out for new developments from that sector. After all, they are free to speak up any time they want.

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