Who is ‘right-wing’ these days?

When it comes to Benjamin Netanyahu, “right-wing” pundits only recall the tiny details and forget all of his strategic achievements, while blatantly ignoring the historical context in which he operated at the time.

 By  Dr. Limor Samimian-Darash, ISRAEL HAYOM

Another election is coming and along with it calls from a host of “right-wing” pundits seeking to remind the public that Benjamin Netanyahu isn’t exactly right-wing. Those who endorsed the boycott of a right-wing government by Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar, and Ayelet Shaked, and who accepted with equanimity a government consisting of left-wing parties and the anti-Zionist Ra’am party, cannot let Netanyahu live down the fact that in 2009, for example, he failed to form a right-wing government. Because when it comes to Netanyahu, they only recall the tiny details and forget all of his strategic achievements, while blatantly ignoring the historical context in which he operated at the time.

On the strategic level, Netanyahu – who fought an all-out war against Iran’s nuclear program and was a catalyst for the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, the re-imposition of sanctions, and the inclusion of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the US list of terrorist organizations – is not right-wing enough for them. The person who took Israel’s tiny, centralized, and socialist economy and spearheaded capitalistic-free market policies, alongside advancing its natural gas project against all of its opponents, turning  Israel into an economic power – is not right-wing enough.

The person who pioneered a series of new alliances in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and above all else four new peace agreements that completely altered the pre-existing pro-Palestinian paradigm in the Middle East – is not right-wing enough. Indeed, the very same Netanyahu, under whose leadership the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria doubled over the past decade without conceding an inch of land – is not right-wing enough. Despite all of these mega-achievements, those same “right-wing” pundits kept protesting: “But he didn’t evacuate Khan al-Ahmar.”

Moreover, in addition to the exaggerated weight assigned to minor issues, they also endeavored to obfuscate the historical context in which he operated. After all, it’s impossible to understand the Hebron Agreement, for instance, without understanding the entire Oslo period. Netanyahu’s inclusion of the reciprocity clause at the time of the agreement’s ratification, which essentially prevented the Oslo Accords and the entire diplomatic process from progressing, was a dramatic initiative.

In appreciating this context, we must also revisit his 2009 Bar-Ilan speech. These were not the heady Donald Trump years, and Israel was not as strong or influential as it is today. These were the post-Olmert government days and the ink from its plan to evacuate all of Judea and Samaria and divide Jerusalem was still wet. Barack Obama had entered the White House, ushering in doomsday prophecies of a diplomatic tsunami against Israel. In this context, Netanyahu spoke about the historical right of the Jewish people to their land and Israel’s security needs, and in indirect terms also discussed the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state under strict conditions, in order to avoid diplomatic concessions.

Similarly, we can discuss the judicial reforms that never came to fruition. Even in the full right-wing government established in 2015, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party had 10 Knesset members, who acted as veto agents against such changes. They received a degree of support from Shaked, Sa’ar, and Benny Begin. Not to mention the fact that the public mood at the time was relatively indifferent to such issues. Few people, if any, understood the gravity of the matter at the time and its ramifications in terms of the country’s Jewish and democratic character, as many have come to understand it today.

We can continue debunking all the various grievances that try in vain to weaken Netanyahu’s right-wing credentials. But perhaps the time has come to ask those who can’t appreciate the tectonic changes he instituted here – preferring instead to support a government with Ra’am, Meretz, Labor, and Yesh Atid – about their own right-wing credentials? It would also be interesting to see when they finally shed the false prophecies of “right-wingers” such as Bennett, Sa’ar, and Shaked. Are they waiting for a government with Balad to wake up? And how is it possible that these same “right-wingers” haven’t aimed one iota of the criticism unleashed against Netanyahu throughout the years at the current government and the dangerous initiatives it has pursued?

June 29, 2022 | 1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. Very nicely described. Historic context is a necessary component of any political analysis, and it has been this component which has too often been ignored while supporting the selective use of lawfare abuses aimed directly at an accomplished head of state. The farcical claim that these rogue elements, formerly of the Right wing block, have supported this period of interregnum based on any form of principle is as falsely based as it is short sighted.

    These political divides among the Right have been used to damage the state, holding Zionist policies in a state of paralysis due to the preference of Saar/Gantz/Lieberman to specifically partner with the Left and the Brotherhood over the largest Zionist party and her allies. The consequence of this purportedly self-emulating act of self-denial by these once claimed members of the Right has seen Zionist policies, which should have easily been passed, to not be given any serious consideration.

    Hence, it should once and for all be unfortunately realized that those who have chosen to ally against Bibi to hold down the Right, raise up the Left while bribing the Brotherhood with land and cash, did so based on a personal animus and a political ideology that was too great and too fickle, respectively. These players are either too vain or too false or simply too inconsistent to be counted to support an agenda that they have held at pause for far too long, going back several years to when Lieberman presented the first unavoidable impasse for the Right, seemingly by the Right, albeit the faux Right.

    The reality of these facts will hopefully provide an historic context for the Israeli electorate to consider in the coming months when at last these members might be faced with an accounting for their ongoing obstructions and their preference to support Cash for Brotherhood over the pressing matters of sovereignty in Judea, exploiting gas explorations, and blocking any support of the TSS, by vocal or more substantive means.