In a March 14th article, the Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Oliver Holmes attempts to explain, in advance of upcoming national elections, the decline of the Israeli peace camp. However, beyond quoting several completely non-representative Israelis, such Yehuda Shaul, founder of the NGO Breaking the Silence, and the self-described non-Zionist Haaretz reporter Amira Haas, Holmes’ piece (The fall of the Israeli peace movement, and why leftists continues to fight”) offers no actual analysis of the ‘death of the left’ and what describes as the country’s “wild lurch to the right”.
Fortunately, this very topic was the focus of a very insightful piece by Yossi Klein Halevi in The Atlantic:
…the second intifada—which began in 2000, shortly after Barak accepted the principle of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and which resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries among Israelis and Palestinians—remains the great Israeli trauma of this generation.
The main political casualty of the second intifada was the Israeli left, which became effectively unelectable. After all, the left had assured Israelis that a two-state offer would bring peace, but the numbing wave of terrorism immediately following Barak’s acceptance of a Palestinian state shattered the left’s credibility.
As Klein-Halevy goes on to argue, it’s simply impossible to understand the Israeli electorate in 2019 without acknowledging the concerns of the broad Israeli centre, who understand that the status quo is untenable in the long term, and leaders must do all they can to achieve a peaceful solution, but fear that “a precipitous territorial withdrawal could turn the West Bank into another Gaza, risking a Hamas takeover and rocket attacks on Israeli cities”. Israelis haven’t moved ‘right’ insofar as the word denotes to some an embrace of militarism and a disinterest in pursuing peace and co-existence with the Palestinians. They’ve simply changed their minds – based on experience – about the efficacy of the current peace process and the assumption that territorial concessions will necessarily end, or even reduce, Palestinian violence.
Contrary to the dominant narrative, the continuing Israeli occupation is not the cause of Palestinian terrorism. It is the result of Palestinian terrorism. But, as long as Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate, and are treated instead merely as passive victims of Israel, this an important causation shaping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will continue to elude British news consumers.