Will a New Israeli Left Arise from the Ashes of the Old?

Dec. 14 2022

In last month’s Knesset elections, Labor—which dominated the first three decades of Israeli politics—emerged as the smallest party with only four seats. Meretz, the party to its left, failed to win any seats. Eran Lerman evaluates the decline and collapse of the country’s left wing, and its possible future:

In September 2000, the Camp David Summit between then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat failed. Soon a wave of violence and terror—guided from above, yet mistakenly referred to as the “second intifada” or popular uprising—engulfed Israel and the Palestinians. . . . A sharp decline in the fortunes of the traditional left and center-left parties became all but inevitable. Peace had become their byword, and peace had become nearly synonymous with an increase in terrorist attacks in Israel.

There was little else the left could latch on to. Old-style socialism was a thing of the past. Economically disadvantaged groups in Israeli society, especially the refugees from Arab countries who came in the 1950s, felt disenfranchised in the first 30 years of Israel’s establishment and saw Likud as their political home, as do their descendants today. Resentment of the elite refused to die, and both Labor and Meretz found it difficult to rid themselves of an association with the sybaritic Tel Aviv cosmopolitan “haves” as opposed to the “have nots” of Israel’s social and geographic periphery.

Can the Zionist left regain its past position as the dominant force in Israeli life? Probably not, owing to demographic changes. It did not help its cause that Benjamin Netanyahu managed to make headway toward new relations with several Arab countries, even without securing Palestinian consent—which the left had repeatedly argued would be impossible. At the same time, voting results from the last four elections show center-left and left parties, including Israeli Arab parties, consistently garnering slightly under half the vote.

Parties on the left could find new pathways to a majority, particularly with the support of those who resent the rise of the radical right and seek to uphold the image of Israel as an open, tolerant society. These parties of the left will not merge but may run on a joint platform. They may yet dig themselves out of the rubble of the present collapse and build a center-left coalition.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics, Labor Party, Meretz, Oslo Accords, Second Intifada

President Biden Should Learn the Lessons of Past U.S. Attempts to Solve the Israel-Palestinian Conflict

Sept. 21 2023

In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Joe Biden addressed a host of international issues, mentioning, inter alia, the “positive and practical impacts” resulting from “Israel’s greater normalization and economic connection with its neighbors.” He then added that the U.S. will “continue to work tirelessly to support a just and lasting peace between the Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples.” Zach Kessel experiences some déjà vu:

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and review how past U.S.-brokered talks between Jerusalem and [Palestinian leaders] have gone down, starting with 1991’s Madrid Conference, organized by then-President George H.W. Bush. . . . Though the talks, which continued through the next year, didn’t get anywhere concrete, many U.S. officials and observers across the world were heartened by the fact that Madrid was the first time representatives of both sides had met face to face. And then Palestinian militants carried out the first suicide bombing in the history of the conflict.

Then, in 1993, Bill Clinton tried his hand with the Oslo Accords:

In the period of time directly after the Oslo Accords . . . suicide bombings on buses and in crowded public spaces became par for the course. Clinton invited then-Palestinian Authority chairman Yasir Arafat and then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak to Camp David in 2000, hoping finally to put the conflict to rest. Arafat, who quite clearly aimed to extract as many concessions as possible from the Israelis without ever intending to agree to any deal—without even putting a counteroffer on the table—scuttled any possibility of peace. Of course, that’s not the most consequential event for the conflict that occurred in 2000. Soon after the Camp David Summit fell apart, the second intifada began.

Since Clinton, each U.S. president has entered office hoping to put together the puzzle that is an outcome acceptable to both sides, and each has failed. . . . Every time a deal has seemed to have legs, something happens—usually terrorist violence—and potential bargains are scrapped. What, then, makes Biden think this time will be any different?

Read more at National Review

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Joe Biden, Palestinian terror, Peace Process