After their claim to be the peace camp exploded into a million pieces in a hundred suicide bombings, Israel’s left reinvented itself as the Zionist camp. Their plan of quitting Judea and Samaria and partitioning Jerusalem remained unchanged. But it was rebranded not as a plan for peace, but as a means to protect Israel’s Jewish identity in the face of the mortal threat of the Palestinian womb.
Within a year or two, or a decade or two, the left warned, if Israel maintained its control over its strategic depth, unified capital and historic heartland, the Jews would lose their numeric majority over the Arabs. And at that point, Israel would be faced with the choice of becoming a non-Jewish state or a non-democratic one. By this reasoning, anyone who calls to apply Israeli law over all or parts of Judea and Samaria, and maintain Jerusalem as an undivided city, is an anti-Zionist, a fascist, or both.
Luckily, the demographic time bomb turned out to be as much of a dud as the peace process was a bomb. As the population data published at the end of 2021 by the Central Bureau of Statistics demonstrate, Israel’s Jewish majority is massive and growing.
There are 6.98 million Jews living in Israel. They comprise 73.9 percent of Israel’s citizens. With non-Jews who are sociologically aligned with the Jewish majority (Russian immigrants who are not Jews under Jewish law, and other minority groups), 80% of Israel’s citizens are Jews.
Jewish Israeli women have more children on average than Muslim Israeli women and Muslim Palestinian women in Judea and Samaria. Aliyah rates to Israel remain high and far outstrip emigration rates. These data indicate that not only is Israel’s Jewish majority stable, it is growing. As demographer and former ambassador Yoram Ettinger has proven through repeated analyses of Palestinian birth, death and emigration data over the past decade, if Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria were incorporated into Israel’s population count, the Jewish majority would be reduced, to be sure, but it would not be endangered. Under that scenario, Jews would comprise 63% of Israel’s citizenry. So far from being a threat to Israel’s Jewish identity, demography is a safeguard of Israel’s Jewish character.
Unfortunately, demography isn’t the only variable determining whether Israel will or will not remain the Jewish state. It turns out that Arabs don’t need to outnumber the Jews to destroy the Zionist dream. All they need is to find a minority of Israeli Jews to partner with them. With a sufficient number of Jews on their side, Israel’s Arab minority, which comprises just 20% of the population, can effectively end the existence of the Jewish people’s nation state.
And this brings us to the left’s latest shift. The failure of Oslo, and the failure of the Gaza withdrawal (which was justified with demographic demagoguery), left Israel’s left on life support. In 2014, only 12% of Israelis identified themselves as leftists. By 2018, only 8% of Israelis did.
Despairing of ever winning an electoral majority, beginning in the early 2000s, Israel’s ideological leftists began abandoning Zionism and joining the Israeli Arabs, the international left and the European Union as central players in their political war against Israel and its right to exist. Leftist professors joined the campaigns to boycott their universities. Leftist lawyers led lawfare and propaganda wars funded by European governments and anti-Israel foundations in America. Working hand in glove with post-Zionist Supreme Court justices and government lawyers, these lawfare activists constrained Israel’s ability to enforce its laws among Arab citizens and to wage successful counter-terror campaigns against the Hamas terror regime in Gaza.
Israeli leftists led foreign-funded fights to block Israel from enforcing its immigration laws against illegal aliens from Africa.
They waged legal and political fights against Jewish public observance. Their fight against the ban on the sale of hametz [leavened foodstuffs] during Passover; for non-Orthodox prayer at the Western Wall; and their campaigns to prohibit separate public events for men and women in religious communities are just a few examples of the post-Zionist left’s across-the-board war against the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
The left’s political parties, seemingly doomed to the back benches of the Opposition, also adjusted to the new realities by abandoning Zionism. The far-left Meretz Party’s leaders realized that their Jewish voter rolls were unlikely to expand and that if they wished to remain in the Knesset, they had to direct their voter recruitment drives toward Arab Israelis. In fits and bounds, the Labor Party followed suit.
To be sure, the leftist parties weren’t the only Jewish parties courting the Arab vote. Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas leader Aryeh Deri also had long been assiduous in their outreach to Arab Israelis. But there was a distinct difference between Likud and Shas Arab outreach campaigns and Labor and Meretz’s efforts. Likud and Shas have sought to bring Arabs into the Jewish polity by advocating on behalf of their economic and municipal interests. In so doing, Likud and Shas sought the support of Arabs who seek to integrate into the Jewish Israeli mainstream.
In contrast, Meretz and Labor courted Arab voters by adopting the anti-Zionist positions advocated by the anti-Zionist Arab parties. So it came to pass that Meretz erased Zionism from its party platform. It adopted the slogan, “To be proud in our land.” The slogan, taken from Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” includes an obvious omission. The line in “Hatikvah” is “to be a proud nation in our land.”
As for Labor, the Zionist banner of David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin was replaced with the banner of radical feminism. Labor head Merav Michaeli’s platform doesn’t erase Zionism, it simply defines Zionism as withdrawing from Judea and Samaria and partitioning Jerusalem (to maintain the Jewish majority, of course). But Michaeli’s real emphasis has been radical feminism.
Michaeli’s decision to bring Arab nationalist Ibtisam Mara’ana onto her Knesset slate was a staple of her new Labor Party. Mara’ana has a long record of comparing Israel’s establishment (the “Nakba”) with the Holocaust. But on the other hand, she has embraced Michaeli’s annoying efforts to feminize the Hebrew language by using feminine forms of nouns and verbs rather than masculine ones, defying the basic rules of grammar in the service of some illiterate feminist agenda.
This brings us to the more moderate left. Its shift to post-Zionism has been more gradual and far less publicized. In 2011, the moderate left was still very committed to Zionism. That year, in response to the radicalization of the far left, including the legal fraternity, Kadima lawmaker MK Avi Dichter presented a bill for Basic Law–Israel: The Nation State of the Jewish People. At the time, Dichter’s boss, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, supported Dichter’s efforts to use primary legislation to safeguard Israel’s Jewish character. Dichter submitted the bill again as a Likud MK in 2017. By that time, as co-head of the Labor Party, Livni was one of the bill’s most ardent opponents.
The erosion of the moderate left’s Zionist commitment kicked into high gear during the 2019-2021 election vortex, where Israel held four inconclusive elections in rapid succession. At the outset of the process, the new center-left party Blue and White, led by three former IDF chiefs of staff—Benny Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Ya’alon—and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, was firmly in the Zionist camp. The four leaders all opposed forming a government that relied on the support of the virulently anti-Zionist and largely pro-terror Joint Arab List.
That consensus view began to crumble after the second election. Lapid and his Yesh Atid party were the first to support forming a government with Arab lawmakers who seek Israel’s dissolution as a Jewish state. After the third election, Gantz, Ya’alon and Ashkenazi agreed. But the left alone was not large enough to form a 61-seat majority, even with the Arabs.
The prospect of a minority Arab faction gaining control over the Knesset and government became a salient possibility after the fourth election last March. It was then that the careerist, anti-Netanyahu right-wing parties—Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope and Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s Yamina—decided that in exchange for senior positions, they would form a coalition government dependent on Ra’am, which hails from the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Islamic Movement.
Initially it wasn’t clear who was swallowing whom. Ra’am chairman Mansour Abbas has become an expert making empty pronouncements (his latest involved stating the undisputed fact that “Israel is a Jewish state”) that are music to Israelis’ ears while advancing his Islamist, decidedly anti-Jewish agenda. There was hope early on that Abbas’s willingness to join a governing coalition stemmed from an abandonment of anti-Zionism in favor of an integrationist impulse. Perhaps that would have been the case if he had joined a Netanyahu-led, all-right-wing coalition. But in the event, from the early days of the current opportunist right-wing-led, leftist-dominated government it became apparent that it was Abbas that had swallowed the leftist and opportunistic right-wing parties. They aligned toward him, not the other way around.
The government’s failure to pass the amended citizenship law that blocks mass Arab immigration; its passage of the so-called “Electricity Law,” which effectively legalized thousands of illegal Bedouin houses and towns built on stolen state lands in the Negev; the government’s cancellation on Wednesday of tree planting in the Negev in the face of Ra’am-supported Arab nationalist riots; the government’s repeated rejection of bills requiring the provision of electricity to new Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria—these are just some of the governmental actions that attest to the current government has abandoned Zionism as its governing rationale and replaced it with a post-Zionist ethos and governing agenda.
The lesson from all of this is obvious. Having a Jewish majority is not a guarantee that Israel will remain a Jewish state. We must reinstate the Jewish consensus around Zionism in our schools, media and politics. Post-Zionist politicians must be exposed. And opportunists who prioritize their ambitions over securing the Jewish state must be ousted and replaced with men and women who are dedicated to the Zionist vision of the Jewish people from time immemorial.
Reprinted with author’s permission from Jewish News Syndicate