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“The problem is that the voters don’t want another path”


I thought this brilliant comment from LGM’s woman in Israel merited its own post:

Putting this here because the other thread is about 70% commenters – most of whom, I have to assume, live on the largest stolen, ethnically cleansed territory on the planet – discussing whether my country should exist.

I continue to be frustrated by the degree to which Americans root the cause of all events in Israel/Palestine in American policy and behavior. Would things have gotten as bad as they did yesterday if Trump wasn’t president? No (and that goes both ways, incidentally – the reason Hamas lit on this strategy is very clearly that it has been inspired by the various anti-Trump marches in the US and elsewhere, and by the fact that the populist left-wing movements that have emerged in response to Trump have been broadly pro-Palestinian). But that doesn’t mean that if he weren’t president we’d be any closer to peaceful solution in the region, and not because Hillary is a war-monger or the Democrats are pro-Israel. I’ve said this before and have gotten pushback, but it remains true: the people in whose hands the future of this part of the world lies are not Americans or Palestinians, but Israelis. And that’s a very bad thing.

I don’t say this often, but one of the reasons that I’ve become so invested in US politics (and to a lesser extent, UK politics) in the last two years even though I live halfway around the world and the internal politics of your country don’t really affect me is that I still see some hope for your political system. It’s going to be an uphill battle, but your left has a genuine chance of making positive change and eventually taking over, if for no other reason than that demographically and politically, your population is much further to the left of your government.

That’s not the case in Israel. The younger generation is, if anything, more racist, more right-wing, less invested in democratic norms and institutions. (And for those of you insisting that this is about demographics and high birth rates among the orthodox – I interact mostly with secular people and the problem is just as bad there.) The right, in particular, is so invested in authoritarianism that they’re perfectly happy allowing Netanyahu to gut Likud and turn it from a political party into his own private army, whose sole goal is to keep him on the throne as long as humanly possible. And he, in turn, has thrown in his lot with fanatics who are increasingly unbothered about owning up the fact that they want to annex the occupied territories. They’re not quite at the stage of admitting that the next step would be ethnic cleansing, but they’ll get there, and with collusion from the media and, as I said, the increasing indifference of the Israeli public to things like human rights and even basic decency, I’m not sure there would be much of a reaction when they do.

The main input of the American government, and to a lesser extent, other ones, is in whether it condemns this behavior. But even if it does, I don’t see that this would have an effect except in the very long term. BDS is a joke whose main function is as a useful boogeyman for the Israeli right to drum up support and delegitimize what’s left of the Israeli left. (I kid you not, the big deal for BDS right now is trying to convince as many countries as possible to boycott next year’s Jerusalem Eurovision. Which isn’t even going to work.) The left, meanwhile, is divided into ineffectual fringe parties with barely enough electoral power to sway a coalition, and slightly larger ones whose leaders are terrified of saying anything that sounds too left-wing. The problem is that the voters don’t want another path, and I don’t see a solution for that.

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