A new book details how the Left chose to surrender to the Arab enemy.
In recent weeks the mostly left-leaning news media have published articles about the turbulence of this year’s elections in Israel with such handwringing titles as “Is the Israeli left doomed to marginalisation?,” “The Decline of the Israeli Left,” and “Whatever Happened to the Israeli Left?” But if one really wants to educate oneself deeply and broadly about this shift in the tiny democracy’s political landscape, one can hardly do better than to read Mordechai Nisan’s new book, The Crack-Up of the Israeli Left, published by Mantua Books. In it, Dr. Nisan brilliantly dissects the rise of the Right and the decline of the Left in the Jewish state. To quote from the book cover’s description, it details how “the Left detached its moorings from reality and principle, raised its voice against the Zionist enterprise, and chose surrender to the Arab enemy.”
If anyone is qualified to expound upon Israel’s political and cultural battlegrounds, it’s Mordechai Nisan. Dr. Nisan (with a doctorate in Political Studies from McGill University) has been a teacher and consultant for a number of academic and public institutions in Israel, including Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he taught Middle East Studies for 35 years. Among his many books are Toward a New Israel: The Jewish State and the Arab Question(1992), Only Israel West of the River: The Jewish State and the Palestinian Question (2011), and Politics and War in Lebanon (2015). He has written articles for The Jerusalem Post, Israel National News, Global Affairs, Middle East Journal, and many other publications. He has also been an activist for Jewish settlement in the territories of Judea and Samaria.
Dr. Nisan was kind enough to take time to answer some questions for FrontPage Mag.
Mark Tapson: You begin your book by describing Israel as “a fable and a myth, but also a Great Truth.” What do you mean by that?
Mordechai Nisan: Myth as an expression of inner thoughts and memories mobilizes people to action. Fables arouse children’s imagination, as myths do for adults. Israel was born from a great myth rooted in the Biblical story of liberation and conquest, awakening the Jewish people to relive their past through the medium of Zionism and reconstituting their freedom and sovereignty in modern times. This is a revitalized myth actualizing an ancient truthof God and Jewish peoplehood in history.
Thus, the distinction between reality and imagination, truth and fable, collapses in the dynamic Jewish Return to the Land of Israel. This is the secret of the founding or re-founding of the state of Israel in 1948. A culture that has lost myth, wrote Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy, “has lost its natural healthy creativity.” Israel’s myth lives on, and so does Israel.
MT: What IS “the crackup of the Israeli left”?
MN: The Israeli Left is stuck in a deep moral and political crisis. Its cyclical downturn has degenerated into ideological rigidity (against the Land of Israel) and political arrogance (against the citizens of Israel). Rootless leftist elites, who are entrenched in the media, academia, the arts, and the judiciary, parade secularism against tradition, vaunting a pro-Palestinian political narrative and having abandoned a pro-Israel one. The more radical elements in the Labor and Meretz parties severed their spiritual ties to the vision of a proud Jewish state, as when they opposed the 2018 Basic Law recognizing “Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
This Leftist “crack-up” includes a long list of political pathologies: siding with the BDS travesty, charging Israel with fascism and Nazi-like policies, refusing to sing the national anthem, employing blood libel terminology to denigrate Jewish settlers, praising Palestinian enemies as peace-loving, and trivializing the dangerous consequences of territorial withdrawal. Leftist incoherence and despair have cost them votes, with the nationalist-rightist Likud Party dominating Israeli politics for decades, since 1977.
MT: To confront the Palestinian “war is peace” mindset toward Israel, you state that “Israel is in need of a culture of war to secure its future.” Can you elaborate on that?
MN: The Israel Defense Forces, with an array of intelligence and cyber capacities, are on 24/7 alert since the day Israel arose in 1948; and poised to defend the country from threat, attack, and terrorism by Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah. For its part, Islam is a religion of war – as Ayatollah Khomeini said; but this does not prevent the Palestinian war donning the mask of peace as a strategy of deception.
Israel enlists and trains its youth for military service and instills love for the homeland, to fight and sacrifice to protect its citizens. This is not a sign of militarism, rather a call for realism and vigilance. When I say that Israel must cultivate a culture of war, despite Judaism in its biblical, prophetic, and rabbinic sources teaching that the highest human value is peace, I am speaking about a patriotic spirit for the defense and survival of Israel.
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.