What left? The rightwing bloc is over 100 Knesset seats — Derfner

on 29 Comments
Netanyahu casts his ballot at a Jerusalem polling station. (Photo: Getty Images)

Several of the latest polls on Tuesday’s Israeli elections apparently show a modest up-tick in support for what’s known as the “center-left” – Labor plus two new parties, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid – and hence a slightly narrower majority than previously predicted for the far-right bloc led by Netanyahu. Some observers are even speculating that the next government may not be so “extreme” after all.

In a column headlined “Bibi can relax – the ‘center-left’ is really on the right” at +972, former Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner explains what such an outcome would and wouldn’t mean. Amid the mind-numbing flood of coverage this election has elicited (NPR seems to have a new story about it every few hours), Derfner cuts to the heart of the situation:

This will be the most extreme right-wing government in Israel’s history, because what passes for the “center-left” is actually the right. There are two overriding questions in this country, two issues that define left and right: occupation and war. Occupation and war are the status quo, and there’s no center about it: You’re either trying to end it, which puts you on the left, or you’re not, which puts you on the right.

As far as I’m concerned, today’s polls continue to show a right-wing bloc of just over 100 Knesset seats and a left-wing bloc, including Meretz and the Arab parties, of 17 or 18.

For anyone who considers the status quo untenable, the reason to vote for Meretz, Hadash, Balad, United Arab List-Ta’al or Da’am (a truly integrated party that won’t make it into the Knesset but which definitely belongs there), is not because there’s a chance to stop the country from sliding further towards hell next week; that’s going to happen. The reason, instead, to vote for one of the above-mentioned parties is because this country poses an acute, rising danger to itself and others around it, and it requires a fighting, principled opposition to keep it alive, to let the Palestinians and the rest of the world know that there’s something here to work with, something to build on in the future, because authoritarian Israel will not change the status quo on its own; it will have to be forced into it by the Palestinians and the rest of the world. Tuesday’s election will confirm this, and so will the next government.

Considering that Meretz supported Israel’s 2006 assault on Lebanon and “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza in 2008-9, I’m not sure how Derfner justifies including that party in the genuine opposition. Perhaps he just couldn’t face the prospect of Palestinians and the rest of the world looking for “something here to work with, something to build on in the future” and finding no Jewish party at all.

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29 Responses

  1. American
    January 22, 2013, 10:56 am

    ”because authoritarian Israel will not change the status quo on its own; it will have to be forced into it by the Palestinians and the rest of the world. ”

    And I don’t’ want to imagine what Israel will have to finally do to make the world finally stop them.

    • Citizen
      January 22, 2013, 2:00 pm

      @ American
      I can imagine it. Israel would have to bomb Iran with nuclear-tipped missiles in the face of a public request against this by the US government in an obvious situation where nobody but Israel is buying its false flag justification.

      • American
        January 22, 2013, 2:35 pm


        That’s not unlikely. George Bush Jr. told them NOT to bomb the Syria outhouse they claimed was a nuke site and they did anyway.

  2. Linda J
    January 22, 2013, 10:59 am

    “There are two overriding questions in this country, two issues that define left and right: occupation and war.”

    Wish occupation and war were even questions in our country. Seems to me they are foregone conclusions here too.

  3. Taxi
    January 22, 2013, 11:02 am

    Fasten yer seatbelts folks, Likud victory equals a new war.

  4. seafoid
    January 22, 2013, 11:07 am

    100 seats translates to 83% of the population or in other words the proportion of the population that is Jewish .

    The only bloc of people thinking rationally in Israel today would therefore be the 1948 Palestinians.

  5. tzanchan
    January 22, 2013, 11:07 am

    Typical Derfner nonsense. Left is good, right are all warmongers. Of course, it was a right-wing Israeli government that made peace with Egypt and Jordan.

    I’m sure that Larry is gearing up to cover the “any day now” elections among the Palestinians.


    • Annie Robbins
      January 22, 2013, 1:55 pm

      tzanchan, your link is a joke wrt the hypocrisy of calling out hamas for arresting journalists and failing to mention :

      Israel targets (and defends attacking) journalists in Gaza

      Early this morning, just after dawn, the Israeli military targeted two media buildings in the Gaza Strip, injuring six journalists with one losing his leg in an amputation after the bombing. “We obviously know there are journalists in the building,” said IDF spokesperson Avital Leibovich hours later, confirming the Israeli military knowingly targeted news organizations in a military strike to destroy an antenna that was located on the roof of the building. Leibovich continued, “so we did not attack any other floor in the building, but my advice to journalist visiting Gaza is to stay away from any Hamas positions, or Hamas sites, or Hamas posts for their own safety.”

      stay away from hamas or your dead? and that’s respect for journos?

      Israel’s explanation for killing two journalists in Gaza? Palestinians aren’t journalists, they’re ‘targets’

      After a second Israeli attack on a media building in two days, this time killing two journalists, the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Mark Regev explains to al-Jazeera English that because the journalists were Palestinian the Israel military considered them legitimate “targets.” Regev’s remarks were made just a few hours after the November 19, 2012 bombing of al-Shuruq Tower and another building used to house the offices of several media outlets, including both Palestinian and international networks.

      Speaking to al-Jazeera, Regev said, “We took out the target that we wanted to take out.” When pressed by al-Jazeera over the injuries of eight journalists the previous day, where one lost his leg

      seriously, do you think our memories are so short we do not remember this?

      • Citizen
        January 22, 2013, 2:05 pm

        @ Annie
        Sorry, you don’t count and Dick and Jane are focused on the NFL Superbowl and shoe sales at Macy’s. Nobody knows this better than Bibi. He learned all about American reality when he lived here.

    • sardelapasti
      January 22, 2013, 2:10 pm

      “Typical Derfner nonsense. Left is good, right are all warmongers.”

      He defined the terms:
      “You’re either trying to end it [occcupation and war], which puts you on the left, or you’re not, which puts you on the right.”

      Your “right-wing Israeli government that made peace with Egypt and Jordan” did so because it got its ass handed back to it on a platter, escaping defeat only thanks to Uncle Sam’s massive intervention; it sure wasn’t trying to end war and occupation but to continue it without interference.

  6. Newclench
    January 22, 2013, 11:54 am

    18 seats out of 120 for the left? That’s better than the US Congress, where only one person (Bernie Sanders) belongs to a party that is left of the Dems, who are still engaged in war (etc.).
    I’m rooting for Hadash to get five seats. Win or lose, someone should write about the amazing Nabila Espanioli.

  7. seafoid
    January 22, 2013, 12:27 pm


    “Habayit Hayehudi’s Jeremy Gimpel voted with his wife Tehila in the settlement of Neveh Daniel as their three young children watched. “My eyes still fill with tears when I get behind that blue cardboard box,” he wrote in a message to Haaretz. “I told my children to never take for granted the right to choose our leaders after all we’ve been through as a people.”

    Message to Gimpel in that settlement


  8. jon s
    January 22, 2013, 1:34 pm

    Earlier today I voted – for MERETZ, a party that certainly qualifies as a fighting, genuine, opposition.

    • sardelapasti
      January 22, 2013, 2:18 pm

      jon s:
      “a fighting, genuine, opposition.”
      to Zionism? Did they propose voluntarily dismantling the State of “Israel”?

    • Citizen
      January 22, 2013, 2:20 pm

      @ jon s
      Well, yeah, MERETZ is a “fighting, opposition.” But how genuine in terms of root problem solving? The analogy that leaps to my mind is J-Street as compared to AIPAC. Gotta fit that into all the text in articles and comments over the last few years on MW–regarding J-Street’s agenda. For what it’s worth: http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2012/02/09/zehava-gal-on-new-leader-of-meretz-party/

    • Woody Tanaka
      January 22, 2013, 3:21 pm

      “Earlier today I voted – for MERETZ, a party that certainly qualifies as a fighting, genuine, opposition.”

      And yet still promotes ethnic supremacy. I guess “progressive for israel” is like “svelte for an elephant.”

    • seafoid
      January 22, 2013, 3:45 pm

      Fair play. I think Meretz is the only decent Zionist party.

  9. jon s
    January 22, 2013, 3:29 pm

    Breaking: According to the exit polls: Likud Beitenu disappointed with 31 seats projected.
    Huge achievement for Yair Lapid’s “center” party (18-19)
    Left opposition doing well: Meretz doubles to 6-7, Hadash up to 5.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 22, 2013, 3:39 pm

      yeah, home party came in 4th.

      • American
        January 22, 2013, 3:46 pm

        Is this good or bad?….I am guessing Likud getting only 31 seats is bad for Netanyahu? So are they further right or left?

      • Annie Robbins
        January 22, 2013, 6:17 pm

        Is this good or bad?

        let’s put it this way, the closer to the seat of power these pro annexation freaks are the more dangerous the consequences.

        there’s multiple ways of looking at this american. i would rather see the truth. which means if they are half the population i wanna know. it looks like there is a ‘middle’ in israeli politics (not to be confused with ‘centric’ because even the middle is very right) but it looks like there will not be enough votes to go full ahead with annexation, probably. one the other hand if it’s going to be a continuation of a slow extended ethnic cleansing that’s horrid too. from my own personal perspective this is better than home party coming in second.

      • seafoid
        January 22, 2013, 3:47 pm


        “The White House said that regardless of the results of the Israeli election, the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would not change.

        “We will continue to make clear that only through direct negotiations can the Palestinians and the Israelis … achieve the peace they both deserve,” said spokesman Jay Carney. He said the complexity of the conflict, not Obama’s relationship with the Israeli leader, was the main impediment.”


      • Citizen
        January 23, 2013, 5:54 am

        So what’s complex about stealing land?

      • Bumblebye
        January 22, 2013, 4:33 pm

        Does the projected result also suggest that rather a lot of “undecideds” were at least somewhat reluctant to tell pollsters they were left-leaning?
        Perhaps the increased turnout was also a protest against the rightward move of Israeli politics. Hopefully, our own politicians (especially those in US) will sit up and take notice – there may be more support in Israel for them to talk and *act* tough wrt I/P.

    • MHughes976
      January 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

      What policies would Meretz and the Centrists propose?

    • ToivoS
      January 22, 2013, 4:57 pm

      JonS, congratulations on your party doing so well. I have no faith in the Israeli left even if they do win — after all they are just as responsible for WB colonization as any Israeli faction, if not more so. However, a set back for the extreme right wing is good news.

      I was a little disheartened by hearing so many here almost eager to see Bennett do well so to prove to the world that Israel is as bad as we all know it to be. This is a disease that perpetually afflicts the Left. It is the ‘What we need is a little dose of fascism to awake the people to the danger so they will join the revolution’ theory of politics. We saw how that worked out in Germany in 1932, with the Uruguayan Tupamaros in 1968 and the Argentine Montoneros in the 1970s.

      In any case, a more central Israel will be less likely to ignite WWIII but we can be assured it will continue with the annexation of WB lands. I believe they will be defeated but with “moderates” in control it can be done with non-violent resistance that is supported internationally.

  10. Nevada Ned
    January 22, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Both Israeli Jews and Palestinians have “leadership problems:”

    The Palestinians have no real leadership at all (PLO or Hamas).

    Israeli Jews have semi-competent bad leadership (Nutanyahoo).

    Of course, what do we have in the US?

    Tea Party (endless denial) vs Obama (endless compromise).

  11. Citizen
    January 23, 2013, 5:56 am

    So you think only the Tea Party in America exhibits endless denial?

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