The function of a parliamentary opposition is to critique and oppose the government’s policies and behavior, and where called for to offer constructive alternatives to the government’s decisions. In this respect many of Knesset Opposition chief Isaac Herzog’s recent political stances are disappointing and disturbing.
Why has Herzog, leader of the Labor Party, not joined Israeli security experts in more accurately diagnosing the causes of the present violence as the result of frustration, rage, and despair, instead of abetting the right’s characterization of Palestinian attacks as simply the result of “incitement,” or as the latest expression of allegedly perennial, anti-Semitic savagery?
Among others, Major General Nitzan Alon, chief of the General Staff Operations Directorate and former commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, and Brigadier General Guy Goldstein, deputy chief of Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, have publicly stated that Palestinian rage and despair over the occupation and settler violence are primary causes of the current unrest. Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot says that, ultimately, force is not the answer but, rather, diplomacy. The experts also insist that Mahmoud Abbas is not fomenting the violence. But Herzog’s contribution to the discourse is to criticize Netanyahu for his ineffective use of force.
Israelis should hear the Opposition Leader talking persuasively about the need for a real peace process, based on genuine willingness to compromise, to bring about two states for the two peoples in what was British Mandate Palestine. This is, after all, the official policy of the Labor Party. We need to hear Mr. Herzog calling for an end to the settlement enterprise instead of telling the British ambassador that the EU’s plan to label settlement products is a “prize for terror.” Partners for Progressive Israel and many Israelis support a settlement boycott not as a prize for anyone but as a just, reasonable and necessary step to discourage illegal and damaging settlement activity.
Out of love and deep concern for our brothers and sisters in Israel in these frightening times and genuine concern for innocent Palestinians, we respectfully call upon the Labor Party to join with Meretz and others in speaking truth to extremism, distortion and denial. Labor needs to be a true opposition party and to lead, educate, and inspire the people to take the road of peacemaking and co-existence. Endlessly “managing” the conflict and relying on force to solve all problems are not the way to provide a viable future for Israel and Palestine.