Sefi Rachlevsky
Haaretz (Opinion)
April 22, 2011 - 12:00am

Let us imagine Meretz founder Shulamit Aloni as prime minister of Israel. An impish fantasy for some of us. In that case, would it be reasonable to imagine Shas launching a campaign under the slogan "Only the daring will win," calling upon Aloni to gather her courage and transform Israel into a theocracy under rabbinical law? Not really.

And is it possible that in their "Zurich initiative," the leaders of the settlers would submit to Aloni a practical and detailed plan for building 500,000 apartments in the Israeli colony in the territories, with the aim of perpetuating it? This too is not really likely. And not only in Israel. Is it possible to imagine the American right in a campaign advising President Barack Obama to gather his courage and revoke medical insurance legislation or submitting a detailed plan to him for a sweeping prohibition on abortions in the United States? Did the left in the U.S. ever suggest to President George W. Bush a plan for making the country a welfare state and did it bother to urge Nixon to embrace the peace organizations during the Vietnam War?

Even as rhetorical questions, these things look imaginary. And this, strangely and exceptionally, is exactly how the non-right in Israel has been operating for years now. In all the established democracies there is the simple awareness that the role of the alternative is to be an alternative. It has to challenge the regime and its values. Not give advice to the ruler but instead display determination to replace him. The alternative's role is to delegitimize the regime, its ways and its values, and to try to obtain a majority for a different set of values.

Only in non-democratic countries does the head of state derive his power from being perceived as impossible to replace and it seem possible only to advise him. This is the way things have looked in the Arab countries until recently. These simple things are clear to everyone in democratic systems. To everyone, that is, except the non-right in Israel. Only these people - from within what they perceive as good intentions and "responsibility" - look like eunuchs scurrying in an attempt to give advice "from within" to a regime that has chosen the opposite path.

It is not possible to understand the messianic, racist and anti-democratic right's move from the margins to dominance in the government without considering the flaccidity of the non-right in Israel and its choice of political conduct, for which there is no parallel. This strange stance has built up the power of the right in many dimensions. First of all, this depicts it as a "regime," for which there is no substitute, and all that remains is for the advisors/eunuchs to fight for closeness to its ear. Secondly, this enables the extreme rightist ruler to move towards the "center" in the public's perception. This is how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's success came about. He is the leader of a radical and multi-faceted rightist outlook, from the incitement demonstrations before the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to the intentional damage inflicted on the Oslo agreements and democracy - an outlook that should be locating him in a place similar to that of a politician from the fringes of the American right, beyond Sarah Palin. His image, however, has become that of someone located close to the center. Someone who will soon decide between advice from National Union MK Michael Ben Ari and advice from the 'Geneva Peace Initiative'.

There is nothing that distances the public more from the alternative than arrogance. The politically mistaken path also radiates tremendous arrogance. As though there were an "objectively" correct path, which the right and its voters in their stupidity are not managing to understand. If only we explain it well - to the appropriate person - and market a precise plan that is worthwhile to everyone, then those who are having difficulty will understand.

But having Israel return to its Declaration of Independence and establish a democratic and egalitarian state within the 1967 borders is not good for everyone. The racist and messianic world is not going to enjoy this change. Its values are the opposite.

Avoidance of the battle over values at this time is tantamount to an existential scandal. The Palestinians are getting close to a declaration of independence. Israel, with its Declaration of Independence, should be the first to support this.

It is not by mistake that Netanyahu is leading the country to the lepers' corner where South Africa used to be. For precisely the same racist values, the Declaration of Independence is being trampled in the Knesset. It's not advice whispered into the prime minister's ear that Israel needs - but rather a clear alternative that will supplant him for the sake of a democratic Israel


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