The results of the recent election in Israel have left-wing Jews in America and Israel in a state of absolute panic and terror. In 20 years of being here, I have never seen such an orgy of hatred towards a substantial part the electorate.
Per the enlightened intellectuals and media, those of us who voted Likud are ‘neaderthals’, ‘uneducated’, ‘racist’ and we all deserve to die. Some have even said they refuse to fight for traditional social goals for disadvantaged populations as punishment for their voting for the wrong party. The hypocritical cries of concern for Israeli democracy are being drowned out in a flood of hatred that makes Bibi’s stupid talk about busing Arab voters sound downright PC.
So what’s going on? It’s simple, really: most left-wing members of the elite in Israel and America don’t actually know Israel, or at least that Israel that doesn’t think and talk like them. A courageous and honest Israeli journalist said this out loud in a mea culpa which included the admission that neither he nor any of hundreds of his colleagues personally knows anyone who votes Likud. An American Jewish liberal also admitted that neither he nor his colleagues actually knows “the real Israel” outside of the media bubble.
The population outside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv is effectively Israel’s “flyover country,” a vast terra incognita of people with strange customs, tendencies and beliefs – strange, that is, to the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem-DC-NY-LA bubble where much of liberal Jewish elites reside. Much like American elites trade in the worst stereotypes about Americans in flyover country, Israeli (and American Jewish) elites trade in the same regarding the Israeli equivalent: All Mizrahim are hotheaded and superstitious. All Russians hate liberal democracy. All settlers are gun-toting religious fanatics. And all of these populations, of course, are uneducated.
At most, these ideas are gross and simplistic exaggerations which hide a much richer and complex social reality. If anyone was using such tropes about Arabs, liberals would be justifiably up in arms. But apparently everything goes when you’re voting for the “wrong party”.
It doesn’t have to be this way. To change this, left-wingers don’t have to change their ideals or become Likudniks. They just need to do a few simple things:
1) Discount what the media says about Israelis. Most journalists don’t have the first clue about them, even those that actually speak Hebrew.
2) When visiting Israel, spend time in Beer Sheva, Netanya or Afula rather than Jerusalem or even Ramallah. Don’t just visit the touristy sights or the “politically attractive” spots (left or right).
3) Don’t go to lecture, just listen. Get to know your fellow Israelis, their hopes, their dreams, their grudges and their ideals. You may find that they have a point or two.
None of this requires “converting” to being right-wing or going native. But it does require extending the principle of tolerance to people you don’t agree with to your right, and not just to your left.
Modern Jews have often prided themselves on their desire to get to know and celebrate their fellow man. It’s past time they get to know their fellow Jew.