The Jewish Diaspora Must Stand with Israeli Leftists

Currently, Israeli leftists are under assault from all corners of Israeli society. These attacks are coming both from government leaders and from individuals in Israeli society. It appears that the assault against leftists in Israel is at the very worst since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

The difference, however, between the time of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and now is that when Rabin was murdered the people who incited such violence were not in the governing coalition. Right now the group of people who incited such violence through their hateful rhetoric are in power. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a key critic of the Oslo accords whose hateful rhetoric led to the poisonous environment in Israel leading up to Rabin’s death, is now the prime minister. Even worse, the far right wing MK Ayelet Shaked, infamous for her call to genocide against Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza war, is now the justice minister of Israel.

Now Shaked, who is arguably a fascist, seeks to pass legislation which would persecute left-wing NGOs. It would do this by requiring NGO’s with 50% or more funding from foreign governments to disclose their donations, say they are funded by foreign entities in their documents, wear special badges while at the Knesset,etc. This is unacceptable, for its exemption of donations from private entities means that it largely exempts right wing organizations and thus is attacking the left. Making people where special identification simply because they are different is eerily reminiscent of when Jewish individuals were forced to wear Yellow Stars of David in Nazi Germany simply because they were Jews. While it isn’t as egregious–for this is just in the Knesset–it is still an unacceptable breach of democratic values.

Another example of the persecution of Israeli leftists is when even centrist politicians such as Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid were blasting and shaming Breaking the Silence. People were attacking Reuven Rivlin simply for attending a Haaretz conference where Breaking the Silence spoke at to. 53% of Israelis, according to a recent poll, support banning the group Breaking the Silence. If this were to happen it would be a tragedy, for Breaking the Silence forces Israelis to look at the evils of The Occupation which they otherwise would be quite eager to ignore. Breaking the Silence is a patriotic organization which is simply trying to promote democracy.

A very recent attack on leftist ideals in Israel was the video by the far right wing group Im Tirtzu which shamed heads of left wing NGOs as supporters of terrorism. Justifiably, politicians across the Israeli political spectrum condemned the video. But nonetheless they continue to engage in incitement against these same organizations. The American Jewish Establishment continues to condemn these videos without condemning similar incitement from mainstream Israeli politicians. This is completely unacceptable and it must end.

Jews of conscious within the Jewish community must stand with left wing organizations, individuals, parties and ideals in Israel. For far too long AIPAC and the Israeli right wing have been in  a horrid alliance with each other at the expense of Israel and the Palestinians. It is necessary for Jewish individuals to publically state their solidarity with leftist Israelis. This solidarity should not only include a stand against the persecution of them. It must include a stand for the very same values that these leftists are standing for themselves. Leftist Jews in the diaspora must stand up and they that they condemn the racist apartheid colonial regime which has been put in place over the Palestinians by The Occupation. They must say this because this is what Israeli leftists have been risking their lives to say constantly.

Furthermore, leftist Israeli politicians, organizations and individuals must reach out to the diaspora as well. The Haaretz Q conference was a good first step in this but more must be done. Israeli leftists such as Stav Shaffir and Gideon Levy need to start speaking at college campuses and Jewish functions. We should establish forums and organizations to link diaspora leftists with their Israeli counterparts. It will not be easy, but if the proper organizational structure is set up it can be made possible.

About the Author
Zachary Kolodny is a senior in high school. He lived with his family in Israel for almost a year. His passions include politics and civil rights. He is a liberal Zionist who cares deeply about Israel.