(February 6, 2019 / JNS)
About a month ago, long before the Prime Minister’s Office was focusing on it, I called on Habayit Hayehudi to merge with Eli Yishai and Otzma Yehudit. The common ground between religious Zionism and these parties is far greater than what separates them. The union doesn’t have to be complete; it just needs to be an ad hoc, pragmatic partnership for the sake of a supreme goal: preventing the right-wing bloc from losing precious votes in the upcoming general election.
We all lived through the trauma of 1992, which led to the rise of the government that agreed to the blood-soaked Oslo Accords, which brought a disaster down on us. In the last election, more than 120,000 ballots cast for parties in these two streams that didn’t make it past the minimum electoral threshold were wasted. Isn’t that a shame?
The left, as usual, has started its pseudo-moralistic celebrations; within three seconds, they were referring to “Kahane-ism” and “Nazism.” There isn’t enough space here to elaborate on the hypocrisy of that bunch. They can’t teach anyone about morality. If getting control of the government were in the balance, they themselves would make a deal with the late Meir Kahane. In effect, they do that in every election cycle: When they calculate possible coalitions, they count the Arab parties, all of which reject the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination and the idea of a Jewish state. Not to mention that they are identified with terrorists and the enemies of the Jewish state. And we haven’t even mentioned the bigamists and the misogynists and the radicals. The left is allowed to form alliances with all of them—“for the sake of peace,” of course.
A Tehran-like demand
I’ll say it again: Right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, for example, is much preferable to Hagai El-Ad, the head of B’Tselem, who travels the world spreading blood libels about Israel, thereby providing indirect justification for terrorism against the Jewish people and their state. To our disgrace, he isn’t the only one the left holds up as a moral role model. But we don’t live according to their dictates. Let them go crazy and call us names. They did it to Menachem Begin and Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and even to Zevulun Hammer. As far as the left is concerned, we’ve always been fascists, neo-Nazis, messianic and a bunch of other curses.
The Tehran-like demand is aimed at the right only. There is no morality in this “Tehranism,” only a desire to control the boundaries of the political opponent’s legitimacy and prevent unification. The right losing votes is good for the left. Writing here, I have opposed the disqualification of the Arab Balad Party and the sanctions against Knesset member Hanin Zoabi. Our democracy is strong enough, I said, to include even those extremist elements. So with all due respect, shouldn’t we enjoy the same rights?
The moderation of the right
It looks like what most disturbs those who oppose unification on the right is the prospect of the extreme right-wing drawing closer and becoming more moderate. Cooperating with more moderate ideologies will moderate the extremists among us. Not every tenet of the extreme right is unacceptable. Love for the land, love for the people, and love for the Torah are things many people share. There is disagreement about how to express them, about what they mean, about conduct. It is better to talk about it than to marginalize them. But the left can’t control its need for the existence of an extremist specter that will allow it to tar the entire right with the same brush—all settlers, all religious, all haredim and the rest of the colorful pejoratives.
This is a moment of truth for religious Zionism and the right as a whole. Are we ready to free our thinking from the controlling grip of the left, which for years decided how much legitimacy the right would have? The insanity has gotten so out of hand that we’ve accepted the new geometry of the leftist propagandists: terms like “centrist,” “neither right nor left,” “center-left,” which settled into our language, even though we know they’re deceptive. These are different names for the same two tribes that since the start of the 20th century have been battling for control of the Zionist ship.
Let’s hope that our friends in Habayit Hayehudi will be wise enough to unite with other parties and hold on to valuable votes. Our lives depend on it.
Dror Eydar has been appointed Israeli ambassador to Italy.