Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Israel: the defeat of the second best

I had hopes that Herzog might win the election in Israel. After a long decline of the Labour Party, in the last weeks polls suggested that he might become prime minister. I wanted to compare the Labour Party in Israel to the resurrection of the federalist liberals in Quebec some months ago. Although Labour obtained a good result, it will not be enough to oust Netanyahu from office. And that is even though the Labour Party mutated into a candidacy with nationalist resonances supporting a two state solution, which in my view is far from the first best: a one state solution, as it was supported in the past by intellectuals of the calibre of Tony Judt. But in the last decade it has become conventional wisdom that the best that can be achieved is the peaceful coexistence of two small neighbouring states, one mostly for the Arabs and one mostly for the Jews. The failure of civilization that this ethnic split implies has not stopped many civilized people from supporting it as the least bad solution for a land dominated by nationalism and violence. The decline of the Labour Party, which was a key element in the formation and the egalitarian dreams of the initial Israel state, has coincided in the recent past with an incredible increase of inequality, hand in hand with a radicalization of the nationalist right, leaded by Netanyahu. Similarly to Ireland, independence and nationalism have downsized the left and the centre left to a very tiny movement. I guess any attempt to overcome the current situation will have to use second best politics. But this time at least, not even that.

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