When it comes to political conversations, there is a tendency to categorize people as leftists, liberals, right-wingers etc. Such labeling is unavoidable since there will always be a need to concisely describe the general political overview of an individual or a group. However, in the context of the conflict in Israel there seems to be an increasingly conspicuous propensity to throw out labels which seem entirely out of sync with the reality of that being expressed.
For the sake of convenience, I would describe myself as “right wing” if the definition is to be understood as generally conservative and averse to political moves which potentially endanger the lives of Jewish people. I do not believe that land exchanges will bring peace. I am not ashamed of my beliefs and do not feel it incompatible with care for others.
Today, it is an expectation that people see others through the lens of absolute equality. Humanity, as a concept, has become so manipulated that it often causes condemnation of those who dare to say that “my people are my first priority.” Yet it is difficult to imagine that anybody would misconstrue one’s love for his/her family as a natural product of intolerance for, or animosity toward, other families or people. They would not be right-wing or any other fathomable adjective of a similar nature for professing to love their own above and beyond all else.
I submit that to be tolerant of others, to wish no harm on others, to promote freedom, equality and dignity for others, need not diminish the supremacy of one’s kinship with a particular group. This supremacy however, should not be confused with superiority. It does not warrant being labeled a “right-winger.”
The question of “settlements” is arguably the central issue which creates the dichotomy of Left and Right. Prominent advocates for the construction of communities in Judea and Samaria such as Naftali Bennett are often branded “hawks” or members of “far-right” factions. However there is little room for such misleading terms in the discourse of Israeli politics, for they conjure up images of an imaginary Naftali Bennett: a man surrounded by brute henchmen, a man inciting the masses to wreak havoc, a man with a penchant for racism.
Indeed, when the world media refers to Bennett and those of his ilk as a “far right-winger,” the misnomer only represents the world’s conceptions of “far-right.” Most far-right groups in Europe or America, for example, usually do advocate violence as a matter of policy and attract individuals notable for their thuggish characteristics. Yet anybody familiar with those “far-right settlers” will attest to the fact that most, albeit not all, are perfectly peaceful people who simply believe that the areas controlled by Israel belong to the Jewish people.
The “settlers” are branded right-wingers with unacceptable religious-ideological views by the very same people who accept the ideological and religious claim of Palestinian Arabs whose demand for East Jerusalem, at least, rests on religious grounds. Jews visiting the Temple Mount are considered “right-wing” provocateurs while those throwing stones so as to prevent their religious sites from being desecrated by Jews are considered reasonable resistors. Jewish religious claims to Jerusalem are unacceptable religious extremes, but Islamic claims stemming from Muhammad’s Night Journey to the Temple Mount seem fair game.
Rallies such as those which took place in Jerusalem on Monday night are referred to in the press as “right-wing rallies” even though they were merely a protest against the declining security situation in which Jews are being stabbed to death. They are not calls for violence. One does not have to be right-wing to demonstrate against the current situation.
One can scarcely utter support for Israel’s actions or security forces without being scoffed at by those who claim to be left wing and therefore more tolerant. In a most condescending mien, they ridicule perceived rightist viewpoints as outrageous, bigoted and anachronistic. I am sometimes accused of wanting to kill all Arabs and am perplexed that such twisted conclusions can be adduced from my words.
At best, they mockingly dismiss conflicting points as fear mongering or racism. At worst, they refuse to even engage in a dialogue, so confident they are of their superior rectitude. They have discovered the secret to security in Israel. They represent the solution, the right, the problem. Their intellectual arrogance seeks to silence perfectly peaceful alternative views, causes people to feel ashamed to opine anything which might draw accusations of being an extreme right-winger.
I am aware that there are some elements among the “rightists” who can also be intimidating. I am aware that the term “leftist” or “liberal” is also sometimes used in a derisory fashion. Yet such terms do not carry connotations of “Stalinists” or “Maoists”. By contrast, people literally think of the “far-right” in Israel as violent fascists and at times equate them with Nazis.
I find this overbearing and almost constant incrimination tiring. Worse, I find it to be a form of intellectual bullying. Ultimately, this is the cause of so much Jewish fear on college campuses today. Even moderate support of Israel runs the risk of being branded a racist and the like. The label is simply abused and deliberately employed to vilify. It should be rejected as a meaningless platitude.
I would assert therefore, that the “left’s” pursuance of what ultimately amounts to pseudo-liberalism and their belittling of conflicting opinions truly represents the intolerance which we, “far right-wingers,” are so often accused of promoting.