Avi Shamir
Avi Shamir

The Barefaced Hypocrisy of the Israeli Right

Come all ye holier than thou cohorts of the almighty right and revel in your righteousness. Congratulate yourselves for selling an elitist brand of Judaism driven by a belief that God Himself guarantees our exclusive rights to the land. Bemoan the intransigence of the Palestinian Authority even as you befoul the political climate with your own dogmatic ways and besmirch the lowly left for not sharing your Greater Israel fantasy.

Come all ye pork-eating Yisrael Beitenu devotees who can’t stomach religious coercion, spit on the ground as you shake hands with the likes of Aryeh Deri. Come all ye bareheaded card-carrying Likudnikim who delight in pitot on Pessach on the sly and yet submit so willingly to a state-run religious hierarchy.

There is nothing as two-faced as sanctimonious secularism. Back in his first term as Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu was caught on camera telling the celebrated Kabbalist, Rav Kaduri, “they (the left) have forgotten what it means to be Jews.” The news report of Bibi’s offensive remark was an exposé of the duplicity of our national leadership. The secular right professes that they are somehow better Jews than the secular left, and so make better coalition partners.

This patronizing attitude hasn’t changed over the years. In more recent times, Bibi stated that he seeks to form a coalition with his “natural allies” in the nationalist-religious camp. What this “natural” alliance comes down to is that the Likud wants to hold on to power while Shas, Yahadut Hatora, Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beitenu covet government ministries and budgets. All this entails is maintaining the status quos on matters of religion and state as well as settlement in Judea and Samaria.

In contradiction, come election time the Likud sells itself as a centrist party to win over the swing voters. Its party platform endorses (not without some ambiguity) the formation of a Palestinian state, which in Twenty-First Century Israel resonates with mainstream thought. But, rest assured, twenty minutes after the election results are in the Likud forgets that the Israeli mainstream is represented by the Zionist Union and Yesh Atid. Like suicidal salmon drawn upstream, the Likud leadership crawls back to its usual partners in the haredi bloc – so much for the secular majority in a democratic society. Then, to seal the deal, they come to an understanding with the ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett – so much for all the pretenses of resolving our conflict the Palestinians.

The double standards are especially blatant in times of violence, which are all too frequent in that grim Middle East reality we know so well. Our religious-nationalist leaders promise us security yet seemingly do (or don’t do) whatever it takes to maintain constant conflict. We move from sporadic terror incidents to intifadas to “military campaigns,” all misnomers for an on and off and unending war. Citing national security interests, Netanyahu assures us that all is quiet on the diplomatic front, which only worsens our security problem many times over.

During our recent holiday season, we were repeatedly reminded of our national dynamic: on Pessach we moved on from slavery to freedom: on Yom Hashoa we went from the holocaust to national redemption and statehood; and lastly we transitioned overnight from Yom Hazikaron to Yom Haatzmaut, i.e. from national mourning to fireworks with the assurance that we fight for a purpose and that our security has never been better.

Come all ye charlatans of the ruling right and picture a parallel reality with the left at the helm of the very same boat as you sneer from the opposition. Picture the responses of a confrontational Bibi, Avigdor and Naftali as they deride the ineffectiveness of a left-wing government trying to achieve a political settlement for which you so zealously do all you can to derail. Picture your very own responses to three catastrophic Gaza “campaigns” that all end the same way, with so many fallen Israeli soldiers and no achievements whatsoever. Picture your reaction to a crazy season in which Israeli citizens are knifed on the street and trucks ram into crowded bus stops while the left is in power. Picture the very same horror shows we have seen in recent years with your political rivals running the show, and come now to the inevitable conclusion: Our national and personal security is actually kind of shaky.

Indeed, one can sum up the not so effective leadership of the Israeli right with song lyrics written by the late great Bob Marley: “Hiding from reality, in your world of hypocrisy.”

Of course, there’s a flip side to all this. Hypocrisy is not an exclusive right-wing disorder. It’s part of the human condition. Anyone can be accused of it, the left included. But here’s the kicker: The left didn’t actually lead us into Gaza three times and come up empty-handed. The right did, the same right that has been leading us nowhere for so many years. If and when the left gets back into power, its supporters can and must turn into their watchdogs, to ensure that they carry out their campaign promises, practice what they preach and actually show results. Until that day comes, all we can do is see through the shameless hypocrisy of the current leadership.

About the Author
Avi Shamir is a freelance writer, editor, translator and the author of "Saving the Game," a novel about baseball. A Brooklyn College graduate with a BA in English, Avi has contributed to the Jerusalem Post, The Nation, Israel Scene, In English and The World Zionist Press Service.