The New York Times editorial today echoed two widely held criticisms of Netanyahu`s actions during this election. First, he stands accused of “outrightly rejecting a Palestinian state,” and secondly, he is guilty of an “outrageous” “racist rant against Israeli Arab voters.”
Both of these criticisms actually show more about the left than they do about Netanyahu. The left views the world more in terms of ideas than realities, and they have thus totally misinterpreted Netanyahu`s statements and actions.
Let us start with Netanyahu`s statements about a Palestinian state, as quoted in the Times of Israel.
“I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.”
The left has read this as a rejection of the Palestinian state, as if the Palestinian state is some abstract concept, probably linked to national self determination and minority and human rights, that one either agrees with or doesn`t. This is totally disingenuous. Netanyahu has (quite cogently) argued that it is the realities of what a Palestinian state would look like that he rejects. Seemingly, based on both the Hamas takeover of Gaza, as well as regional instability in the Middle East, Netanyahu is rejecting the current, real world existence, of a Palestinian state – not the abstract idea of one.
The same is true regarding the “racist rant against Arab voters.” Here is what Netanyahu said in the video, found on his Facebook page.
The chances of a right wing government are in danger. The Arab voters are streaming to the polling booths in masses……. Go out and vote, help us close the gap between us (Likkud) and Avoda (Herzog`s party) and with your help, we will have a right wing government that will guard the State of Israel.
Once again, the left have looked at the Arab vote as an idea, an expression of democracy and minority rights, and said that Bibi Netanyahu is attacking that. But this simply ignores the reality. Netanyahu was not attacking the Arabs as an idea, but encouraging the right wing to go out and vote, to ensure there will not be a left wing government, which is the quite real consequence of the Arab vote.(It also must be noted that generally the Arabs have low voter turnout, so the possibility of high Arab voter turnout could really have changed things.) Netanyahu was not attacking Arab votes as an idea, but attacking the facts on the ground, the left wing government, that it could have lead to.
The idea that the left see the world in terms of ideas, rather than realities is not entirely new. Indeed, if we make somewhat of a simplifying generalisation, don`t right and left correlate with the two great school of thought in International Relations called “Realism” and “Idealism”?
The New York Times said that this election had turned “ugly.” Maybe they need to get acquainted with the realities of the world, rather than living in a world of ideas. A Palestinian state is not an idea, but a living, significant, and potentially dangerous reality. The Arab vote is not just an expression of a democratic right, but something that gives seats in a Parliament to a party.
Sorry if that is a little “ugly” for you.