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Right and left in Israel



The Knesset: 61 years of parliamentary democracy, and counting, in Israel. But do its members properly love their country? Or does the dysfunctional way Members are chosen, with their election rules that do not conform to Jewish law, lead to a pointless scramble for patronage? A new Manifesto calls for radically reforming the way Israel picks Members of this body. Furthermore, terms like right and left, as in other parliaments, mean little when no one will articulate first principles.

The terms Right and Left have been bandied about ever since the French Revolution. Right and Left have taken the place of the traditional distinction between “good” and “bad” in public discourse.

“Leftist” and “Rightist” shibboleths are often used to discredit an individual or group to avoid dealing with the merits of an issue. Their use is deeply ingrained in the abbreviated mentality of the democratic world. Short-circuited thinking essential in the hurried and harried world of Internet

In Israel, however, the use of these shibboleths can be dangerously misleading because Israel is the only country in the world whose very survival can be undermined by the misuse of these mind-numbing labels. Let me explain.

Differences between – and within – right and left parties

In Israel, political parties are labeled right-wing or left-wing regardless of crucial differences within such parties – differences that obscure fundamental regime issues or ideological orientations.

What I propose to do is to identify the fundamental issue confronting Israel and classify Israeli parties Right or Left in terms of how they stand in relation to this issue. I will therefore disregard other issues even though they may be important in themselves and may even affect the fundamental issue in question.

The foundation and three cornerstones

The fundamental issue in Israel is none other than Israel’s raison d’être as a Jewish state, which I will also designate as Israel’s paramount principle. Therein is the ultimate criterion as to whether a party should be designated Right or Left. Accordingly, I shall examine the positions of various political parties on three issues which directly affect Israel’s character as a Jewish state.


Since left-wing parties such as Labor, Meretz and Yesh Atid do not take their bearings on the Torah or Jewish Law, they do not unequivocally affirm “family values.” The Left’s permissive attitude toward homosexuality, gay marriage, and pornography is notorious. This may also be said of the anti-religious Yesh Atid Party headed by Yair Lapid. Yesh Atid must therefore be included in the Left since its position on the subject of morality is contrary to Israel’s raison d’etre as a Jewish state. Moreover, since morality is a matter of education, and since it requires the support of law, no left-wing (or secular) party will uphold morality over the permissive and leveling tendencies of democracy.

The Land of Israel

Israel’s retreat from Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Jewish civilization – which retreat is advocated by left-wing parties such as Labor and Meretz – cannot but emasculate Jewish national consciousness, a precondition of Israel’s survival as a Jewish state. Does this malady apply to the Likud? Since Likud leader Netanyahu has endorsed a Palestinian state, the Likud may be classified as a closet leftwing party. It deceives voters by campaigning on the “Right” to win right-wing votes; but once in office it shifts to the “Left”!

Religion and State

Labor, Meretz, and Yesh Atid, well as Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, advocate separation of religion and state. Thus, given Israel’s raison d’etre as a Jewish state, even Israel’s reputedly right-wing parties fall into the category of the Left! Truth be told, there is no genuine Right in Israel!

No one proclaims the Jewish State!

No party boldly proclaims that Israel’s raison d’être as a Jewish State must be the State’s paramount principle, to which all other principles are subordinated, including those of democracy. And no party offers a Constitution that embodies this paramount principle.

Insofar as the “Right-Left” jargon has taken the place of the traditional distinction between good and bad, things are pretty bad in the State of Israel.

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