Israel’s normalization agreement with the United Arab Emirates is a significant strategic achievement. It strengthens and solidifies Israel’s regional alliance with Sunni Arab countries against Iran, creates a precedent that appears likely to lead to normalization with other Arab states and destroys the conception that a deal with the Palestinian peace rejectionists is the only path to normalization in the Middle East.
If the left had delivered such an agreement, there would have been a week-long peace party in the streets. The news studios would be broadcasting around the clock; there’d be songs of peace expressing a collective sense of euphoria. But lo and behold: We have peace, a new Middle East taking shape before our very eyes, and not only are the studios unenthusiastic, but the atmosphere during their broadcasts is reminiscent of a mourner’s tent.
“There’s no deal and no war has ended,” journalist Raviv Drucker wrote this week, while former Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On suggested we all remember that “our conflict is with the Palestinian people and was never with the UAE, with which we don’t have a shared border or quarrel.” B’Tselem chairman Hagai Elad encapsulated the left’s bitterness by stating: “The UAE [treaty] doesn’t give hope to the Palestinians.”
In short, the view on the left is that a peace deal isn’t worth a hill of beans and there’s no reason to rejoice if it doesn’t include withdrawal to the 1967 borders and uproot Jews from their homes. All the more so when the conception that normalization with Arab countries is impossible without first resolving the Palestinian problem just received a knockout punch. The past week exposed what many on the right have long suspected: The peace camp couldn’t care less about peace.
But this is only the first dance in this masquerade ball. The heated land dispute surrounding the river running through Kibbutz Nir David reveals that the principle of equality for which the Israeli left has fought for nearly 100 years is entirely flexible and malleable. Not only have the left’s more prominent figures not stood with the residents of Beit She’an—who claim the public should have free access to the river—but the small handful of leftists who have supported their cause have come under virulent and occasionally racist attack. It appears that distributive equality and justice are nice slogans, until it comes to the green grasses of the kibbutz and the property taxes the kibbutz movement’s regional councils receive from IDF bases or Dead Sea factories at the expense of the development towns.
What was that about integrity in politics and fighting corruption? These principles, too, it seems, are exceedingly adjustable. Drucker seriously argued this week that not only should the media not focus on the construction violations allegedly committed by Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the corruption cases against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and her husband, but that “it’s hard to describe the injustice imposed on Ben-Ari.” Drucker and his colleagues covering the legal beat took considerable pains to minimize and conceal the facts exposed by Eli Zippori, Kinneret Barashi, Erel Segal, and Israel Hayom‘s Akiva Bigman. It was a direct extension of the left’s complete neglect of Yoav Yitzhak’s and Ayala Hasson’s revelations about Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and former State Attorney Shai Nitzan.
The past week has illustrated the “three nos” of the Israeli left: No to peace, no to equality and no to fighting corruption. The masquerade ball is over. It appears there are no higher values behind the left’s pathos of sanctimonious outrage—just propaganda hatchets to be wielded when it suits. The left’s goal was and remains power—the power to safeguard and ensure the rights of the traditional Israeli elites.
Erez Tadmor is co-founder of Im Tirtzu, a right-wing nongovernmental organization.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.