May 5, 2023

Judy Hirsch on the Israeli Left

Israel Is Missing a Strong Left” is the title of Stav Shaffir’s article. She writes: “Our main problem is that only one side follows the rules of the democratic game, while the other side is willing to crush it for its own benefit.” It’s ironic that, after losing the latest democratic election, “her” side comes out to the street in hundreds of thousands and chants: “napil et ha-shilton” (“let’s take down the government”), while crushing the country’s economy. She presents a list of the Israeli forces of evil: settlers, Netanyahu, religious leadership, climate change deniers, etc. But she has only two suggestions for the left-wing agenda: human rights and ecology.

Every liberal democracy protects human rights and ecology. However, in line with France’s laws on laïcité (secularism), it is forbidden to wear overt symbols of religion in government buildings, including schools and universities. Germany limits free speech. Each liberal democracy has a raison d’être (reason to exist) and endeavors to protect itself from the internal and external enemies even if these efforts occasionally contradict the tenets of “liberal” democracy. Can Ms. Shaffir clarify her views on the intersection of Jewish history, tradition, faith and mamlachtiyut? Do religious values have anything to contribute to our understanding of “human rights”? Where do the ethical underpinnings of the State come from? What’s her opinion in this old debate: Is the State of Israel a Jewish country or a country of Jews? Is the Law of Return still valid? What is Israel’s raison d’être, in Ms. Shaffir’s view?

To become relevant again, the Israeli Left has to explain why it’s still worth fighting for Israel instead of decamping to France, Germany or any other “liberal” democracy.

Judy Hirsch

Reno, NV