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

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


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy