Last week, Israel’s Labor party selected its new leader, choosing the centrist former businessman Avi Gabbay over the longtime union activist Amir Peretz. Evelyn Gordon notes that not only does Gabbay’s victory signify a shift to the center, but views expressed by both candidates suggest that much political common ground now unifies a sizable share of the Israeli public:
Asked about the idea of unilaterally withdrawing from parts of the West Bank, for instance, both [Peretz and Gabbay] rejected it. . . . What makes this surprising is that several Labor-affiliated former senior-defense-officials-turned-activists have been pushing unilateral withdrawal. . . . Thus one might expect the idea to appeal to rank-and-file members. But Peretz and Gabbay . . . evidently concluded that even left-of-center Israelis no longer believe the activist “experts” who persist in denying that unilateral withdrawal endangers Israel’s security.
Moreover, both candidates promised to freeze settlement construction, but only outside the major settlement blocs. . . . No less noteworthy was one glaring omission. Though both candidates promised immediate final-status negotiations with the Palestinians and deemed a peace deal essential, their only stated reason for this position was to keep Israel from becoming a binational state. Neither so much as mentioned the fear that Israel could face growing international isolation if it didn’t resolve the conflict. That claim has been a staple of left-wing advocacy for years. . . .
The bottom line is that, even among mainstream left-of-center voters, many ideas pushed by left-wing journalists and activists remain toxic. It’s a point worth remembering for all those foreigners who get much of their information from these very same [journalists and activists].