Anshel Pfeffer knows better.
The Times’ British-born Jerusalem correspondent and long-time Haaretz journalist – though one the most moderate and lucid contributors to the hard-left Israeli daily – is an extremely well-informed reporter and analyst on Israeli politics.
So, we were scratching our heads when we saw the following passage in Peffer’s March 3rd Times column on the Israeli elections (“Israeli election exit poll: Benjamin Netanyahu two seats from victory after stunning comeback”).
Israel’s left-wing parties, with the exception of the Arab-dominated Joint List, have been trounced. Mr Netanyahu is rampant and no one should now bet against him forming a government and staying out of jail.
As Pfeffer surely must know, there is little that’s “left-wing”, progressive or woke about the Joint List.
As Liel Leibovitz demonsrated in an article at Tablet, Joint List is made up of four different parties, including Muslim Brotherhood supporting Islamists, and several of their MKs have expressed support convicted terrorists.
Joint List MK Heba Yazbak, for instance, has shown support for Samir Kuntar, the Lebanese terrorist who took part in a brutal 1979 terror attack in Nahariya, killing 31-year-old Danny Haran in front of his 4 year old daughter Einat, before using the butt of his rifle to crush the girl’s skull. Further, as our colleague Sean Durns reported, the party’s co-leader, Mtanes Shehadah, recently posted a photo of himself hugging Samir Sarsawi, a terrorist who spent 30 years in prison for throwing hand grenades at Jewish pedestrians. And, In 2016, former Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi Zoabi and two other Balad colleagues met family members of terrorists who perpetrated deadly attacks against Israelis – terrorists who they called ‘martyrs’.
On LGBT rights, the Joint List’s party platform says nothing about gay marriage, and, in 2018, only two of the 13 Joint List MK’s said, in response to a journalist’s inquiry, that they personally support such same-sex unions (five expressed their opposition and six didn’t answer.) By contrast, within the overall electorate, 79% of Israelis support gay marriage or civil unions. The centrist Blue and White Party party, in contrast, as well as all the truly left-wing parties, promises to pass legislation permitting same-sex civil unions.
Even on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the party is not uniformly in favor of two states. Though the Joint List officially supports a two-state solution, different factions within the list maintain their own positions. Balad, for instance, isn’t opposed to a two-state solution as such, but “views it as only an interim step toward a single democratic state”.
Though we don’t know what motivated Pfeffer’s characterisation of Joint List as “left-wing”, at many media outlets there seems to be an instinctual belief that since the party represents and putatively defends the rights of Israel’s Arab minority, they must, by definition, be on the left side of the political divide – a variation of the same halo effect that inspires uncritical coverage of politically regressive, but pro-Palestinian, political movements in the West.