The israeli election re-visited

As readers of this


know and understand by now, my critique of the state of Israel is a critique of its founding ideology Zionism and the way in which it is applied as an ideological framework for policy-making in Jerusalem. I bemoan the fact that, nowadays, Zionism is understood to be a zero sum game, leaving no space for inclusiveness anymore. Sadly, the ideology has sacrificed its liberational aspirations for mere tribalism. Zionism, in essence, has done little to normalize the Jewish existents as envisaged by its founding father

Theodor Herzl.

Therefore, I have never obsessed about replacing current israeli prime minister

Benjamin Netanyahu, even though I sincerely hope for such an outcome. However, as Mizrahi activist

Tom Mehager

Points out in this

piece, replacing the current leader with someone like

Benny Gantz

Will do little to bring about the change necessary to legitimize a Jewish and democratic state. Furthermore, Gantz is unlikely to set in motion the sort of policy changes which could re-start the so-called peace process. This soon to be held election will in all likelihood do nothing to change the status quo, since the problems besetting the state of Israel are both ideological and structural. So far, the only issue which seems to unite the opposition is the desire to replace Netanyahu, but there has been no credible attempt to seek a mandate for far-reaching change that would be necessary to re-position Israel both in relation to the Palestinians and its role in the world; there seems to be no political force that is prepared to question the ideology of Zionism and the way it has served the state overall. Like

Edo Konrad, who is a writer, blogger, translator and activist, I am also convinced that the absence of any discourse on the occupation signals that, whoever comes out on top on april 9th, nothing positive will happen either domestically or in the realm of foreign policy. You can find Konrad’s piece


At times it even seems that the obsession to topple Netanyahu serves as a welcome excuse for not having to ponder the real, substantial questions which need answers so urgently. The burning desire to bring down the current leader is puzzling for another reason as well. True, Netanyahu is a cynic, a gifted manipulator and corrupt to the core, but, as far as his statesmanship is concerned, he has not been the terrible leader some of his opponents have made him out to be. During his tenure, Israel has not conducted particularly risky military operations, and there have been leaders of the country who have used Israel’s military machine much more frequently and have caused even more bloodshed and suffering than Netanyahu has done. After all, Netanyahu is a man of the status quo, risk averse and a product of Zionist, revisionist ideology. What I am trying to get at here is simply this: I do not share Netanyahu’s world-view, and I sincerely believe that he has been a disaster for Israel, but has he been more disastrous than previous israeli leaders? I don’t think so at all. Therefore, the question of who succeeds Netanyahu is only important if we were dealing with a leader who would be prepared to either dismantle or reform Zionism and re-define Israel’s position as a Jewish state in the Arab world and its place in it. Until this happens, the outcome of the election will matter little, and for me I readily confess it would be easier to stick with a man who at least doesn’t cause more harm than strictly necessary for maintaining Zionist domination over another people, namely the Palestinians. As long as the ideological foundation of the state and its structure of occupation, even though this is in my view another misleading term, will not be dismantled, Zionism and its liberating potential for a normalized Jewish existents cannot be rehabilitated. What do I mean when I say occupation is in my view a misleading term? To more accurately describe what has happened to the native Palestinian population over the last 5 decades, the term colonization is a much more suitable one, and one mustn’t forget that the crimes of Zionism go back to 1947/48. Once a movement emerges in Israel itself prepared to tackle these emotionally difficult questions, there is literally no point in talking about re-conciliation or peace. Given the way the election campaign is unfolding, no change should be expected at this stage; whether or not Netanyahu remains in office or Benny Gantz replaces him will not make one bit of difference.

If one insists calling Israel a democratic state, one thing may be of interest, however. The possible indictment of Netanyahu and the way in which the interplay between the judiciary branch of government and the executive could effect what is left of democratic Israel.

Yohanan Plesner, president of the

Israel Democracy Institute

explores these questions with

Dahlia Scheindlin

And Gilad Halpern in this


2 thoughts on “The israeli election re-visited

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