Counter-demonstration demonstrates Right-wing’s lack of idea

Why did right-wing protesters try to drown out a leftist rally? Because acting like an ostrich is that’s left to it

Two days ago, a rally of rather moderate leftists was held in Tel Aviv, across from the building in which Declaration of Independence was read in May 1948. These rallies generally take place on Sundays, and as a rule draw no more than a few dozen participants – I’ve been to several. On Thursday, on the other hand, hundreds of people gathered: Some said there were five hundred people present, my own estimate is closer to three hundred. The occasion was a declaration of support of the expected independence of the Palestinians in September (I’m not going to enter this kettle of fish, but others did).

However, what drew most of the attention was not the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, but a group of 20 to 25 counter-demonstrators, who disrupted the event throughout. They screamed, howled, hooted, blew whistles and vuvuzelas, shouted via a megaphone, and generally did everything they could to disrupt peacefully assembling people, who merely came to hear a few moderate speeches and a declamation. Of particular note were members of Im Tirzu, that famously centrist movement who once used say it has no opinion on the question of the territories and that all that interests it is “Zionism”. This time they led the crowd in screams of “traitors”, “go to Gaza”, and, arithmetically, “Ertez Israel, Eretz Israel”.

Right-wingers generally bemoan the existence of a mythical beast, “de-legitimization”; well, they’d be happy to learn they did their bit to help that particular unicorn materialize. The New York Times reported, somewhat shocked, about the calls of “traitors” and “Jewish Nazis”; that last gem, tasteless even by the standards of the Jewish Volkist movement, was directed at Hanna Maron, a well-respected actor, known for having escaped Nazi Germany as a young girl.

One thing remains unclear: What were they doing there? Why was MK Danny Danon, at his most rabid, demanding that those signatories who also received the Israel Prize – Israel’s highest civil distinction, generally given for life’s work – return it? After all, there is nothing new or controversial in calling for the creation of a Palestinian state; hell, even Binyamin Netanyahu publicly said he supports the two states solution. And everyone understands the meaning of denying the TSS is inviting the creation of a bi-national state.

So what was all the noise about? Why was Danny Danon protesting Hanna Maron when he should have demanded Netanyahu quit the leadership of the Likud? For two reasons. One: The Israeli right knows that when its representatives speak of the two state solution, they are lying. Their goal, as Netanyahu was caught saying in a private conversation (Hebrew), is not reaching a peace agreement; the goal is torpedoing it. They want to put as many settlers as they can in the West Bank, so that their evacuation would be impossible. And there’s a very good chance they managed it, and that the TSS is dead.

The other reason is that right-wingers simply won’t hear what others have to say, since it causes them a cognitive dissonance. So their solution, as part of sticking their fingers in their own ears, is silencing the speakers. If there is enough noise, enough whistles and trumpet-calls, perhaps no one will hear them, and that would somehow invalidate their arguments. So make a racket, boys; call anyone who thinks otherwise a traitor; maybe, like an ostrich, if we won’t speak about it won’t happen.

Forty-four years into the occupation, most right-wingers still can’t answer a simple question: “So what’s your solution?”. The decent ones, like Knesset Speaker Rubi Rivlin and former minister Moshe Arens, speak openly of a bi-national state; others still hallucinate they can keep maintaining an apartheid regime forever. They will keep doing so, until the world has finally washed its hands of Israel = and then, of course, they’ll blame those who mouths they’ve tried to shut.

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