The left in Israel is behaving like a person who cannot accept that the object of his love has chosen another in his stead.
… unrequited love does not die; it’s only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded … [and] turns bitter and mean … — Elle Newmark, “The Book of Unholy Mischief”
… love is a scary thing. If not reciprocated, it can turn a person into a monster. — Michele Young-Stone, “The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors”
It is, of course, undisputable that a good portion of what is dubbed as the Israeli “left” have entrenched reservations as to the concept of a Jewish nation-state. Indeed, many even harbor resolute resistance to the validity, legitimacy and/or desirability of the idea. Actually, for all intents and purposes, such rejection is the central plank in their openly declared anti-Zionist political credo. Accordingly, they have little desire to see it develop and prosper.
Puzzling and perturbing
However, this is not necessarily true for the entire spectrum of the self-professed “left” in Israeli politics. I happen to believe that a considerable number of “leftists” are indeed imbued with what they perceive to be strong Zionist sentiments, and genuinely believe that their policy prescription of political appeasement and territorial retreat is in the best interests of Israel and will help preserve it as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Nevertheless, what is particularly puzzling—and perturbing—is that there is frequently precious little difference between the derogatory rhetoric of some of Israel’s most vehement detractors and that of the purportedly “Zionist Left” in their censure of Israel—or at least, of its democratically elected government and its legitimately appointed representatives.
This was particularly evident in the recent brouhaha that erupted over the legislation of the Nationality Bill. Perplexingly, the semantics employed to excoriate and repudiate the law by overtly anti-Zionist elements, which reject Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, was indistinguishable—in substance, scope and style—from those of purported Zionists on the left, who allegedly embrace it as such!
Perverse and paradoxical
However, while the vehement condemnation from the former is to be expected, it is far more difficult to comprehend (and accept) when it comes from the latter. After all, they are, by their own hand—or rather, rhetoric—complicit in undermining the very ideological edifice to which they claim to be committed.
Moreover, although the caustic cries of criticism of the “Zionist Left” reached a cacophonous crescendo over the Nationality Bill, that is not the only issue on which the positions it articulates are startlingly similar to those of the most virulent opponents of Zionism. To the contrary! The same is true with regard to a range of other topics, such as the presence of Jews in parts of the ancient Jewish homeland, methods employed in counter-terror endeavors, attitudes to Jewish heritage and tradition, to name but a few.
Yet despite all this, I still tend to think—albeit with increasing difficulty—that many among the “Zionist Left” do indeed hold a strong and sincere conviction that their political prescription will maximize benefits for Israel and best contribute to its development, security and prosperity, despite the total lack of any factual corroboration for such a belief.
How then is it possible to account for the perverse and paradoxical behavior, in which those who profess love for the Jewish state, align themselves with its most iniquitous foes?
“ … unrequited love … turns bitter and mean … ”
A possible explanation is perhaps provided in the work of two contemporary American authoresses, who address the question of unrequited love and its consequences. Thus, in The Book of Unholy Mischief, Elle Newmark (1946-2011) warned: “ … unrequited love does not die; it’s only beaten down to a secret place where it hides, curled and wounded … [and] turns bitter and mean.”
In similar vein, Michele Young-Stone cautioned in The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors: “ … love is a scary thing. If not reciprocated, it can turn a person into a monster.”
It is not difficult to diagnose distinct symptoms of these pernicious proclivities in the conduct of the “Zionist Left” in recent years—eerily reminiscent of someone unwilling to accept the fact that his lover has chosen another in his stead.
(Politically correct clarification: I use the masculine gender simply for stylistic simplicity. Knowing full well that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” I am certainly aware that the analogy is just as valid for the other gender as well.)
Thus, despite his love for her, driven by insult and heartbreak, he defames her in public, maligns her morality, and is even prepared to cause her physical harm. He is unable to understand how she preferred someone who, in his eyes, is less deserving, less articulate and less refined than he is. In his pain, he derides her intelligence and ability, despite her manifest accomplishments.
What jilted lovers fail to grasp
Although her beauty is unfaded—indeed, many consider her now more mature and enticing than before—he mocks her for being ugly and losing her allure. Out of frustration, he fabricates lies as to her character defects and unseemly behavior; regularly belittling her achievements while exaggerating her faults.
All this is strongly reminiscent of the manner in which the self-designated “Zionist Left” conducts itself. Despite Israel’s impressive record of achievement in virtually every realm of human endeavor, the left persists in demeaning its worth. Despite the individual freedoms and material welfare it provides its citizens, even those with empathy for its bitterest enemies, the “Zionist Left” often endorses the mendacious allegations of those who deny Israel’s right to exist—by validating their mendacious accusations with its own bogus claims of imagined “budding fascism” and fictional manifestations of “racism.”
However, exactly as our jilted lover fails to grasp that by blackening the name of his lost love, he virtually ensures that he will never win her back, so the “Zionist Left” fails to grasp that by sullying the name of the Jewish state, it makes the chances of reasserting its rule over it ever more remote.
But so it goes with jilted lovers, I guess.
Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.
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