Beitenu is a socialist party and the difference between racism and the right

Liam quoting Neve Gordon quoting Menachem Begin. Both followed the “oh, what a surprise that the former doyenne of the Israeli right was using rhetoric that you think is left wing compared with the Israeli right now” kind of shtick:

Who said that Zionist quote? (You’ll never guess) – Liam Getreu.

“We do not accept the semi-official view … wherein the state grants rights and is entitled to rescind them. We believe that there are human rights that precede the human form of life called a state.”

“We have learned that an elected parliamentary majority can be an instrument in the hands of a group of rulers and act as camouflage for their tyranny. Therefore, the nation must, if it chooses freedom, determine its rights also with regard to the House of Representatives in order that the majority thereof, that serves the regime more than it oversees it, should not negate these rights.”

Here’s the thing: this does not show how the Israeli right has moved further right. For all the moralising against Begin for being some kind of proto-fascist, he was the one who gave away the entire Sinai peninsular in exchange for peace with Egypt. He was right wing in the classical tradition and he followed Jabotinsky’s strong secular, liberal tradition. As evidenced by these quotes, this was not just a nationalist movement, it was a fervently democratic one. In fact, Jabotinsky was the first Zionist leader to recognise Palestinian nationalism and the first to call for Arab residents to play a role in Israeli society.

The classical Revisionist doctrine has not been entirely lost, it can still be seen in the old generation of Likud — the likes of Bibi, Reuvlin et al. The anti-liberal activity that Liam/Gordon are railing about come from the left of politics — parties like Yisrael Beitenu, who are pretty much a group of racist socialists. Bibi is blocking Lieberman’s antidemocratic reforms as Lieberman blocks Bibi’s free-market reforms. Lieberman is demanding more public housing and social welfare while he busies himself with depriving Israeli Arabs and curtailing the judiciary.

In any country that didn’t define “left” and “right” according to how willing a party is to trust Palestinians, most of Likud’s “right wing coalition” would be firmly on the left. I am completely opposed to this characterisation of Beitenu as “right wing”. They are possibly the most socialist, interventionist, big-government party in Israeli politics today. Being racist does not make someone right wing, as anyone who has seen the bile that the far left spout about Jews and Israel will know, the left is not exactly lacking in racists.

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