Have you ever heard of right-wing supporters threatening to leave the country, who hope that their children won’t live in it? That’s the prevailing tone among the center-left now. Following the victory of the right and the religious in the elections, many Israelis have reverted to threatening relocation.

Talk of emigration among the left is of course not new. After every needless war or electoral defeat the tune of the emigrants rises. Naturally, there is a gap between talk of emigration, as furious and desperate as it may be, and actually making the move. Only 750,000 Israelis have permanently left the country since its establishment. In 2020, for instance, deep under the rule of Benjamin Netanyahu, only some 10,000 people left the country. These are not numbers that dismantle a country. They don’t even change policy, as anti-occupation supporters around the world sometimes hope – that a protest migration will empty Israel, weaken it and bring about a change in its ways.

But it cannot be ignored that the threats of abandonment come from only one side of the political map. It’s true that the right has been victorious in recent years, so its supporters have no cause to leave the country. But even after its defeats – the evacuation of the Sinai Peninsula, the Oslo Accords and the Gaza disengagement – the right didn’t speak of leaving.

Gadi Taub’s theory about the mobile and the stationary is proven once again. It stems not just from the greater options at the disposal of the higher classes. The right-wing’s clinging to the country has ideological roots as well. Just as it clings to Judaism as defining its identity before anything else, and just as it is convinced in the exclusive Jewish claim to the country, based on a divine promise, so is abandoning the promised land that is all ours much harder for the right. This promises the right another important and crucial advantage in the fight.

The long-term victory of the secular and religious right is assured not just due to demographic figures, but also due to its sumud (Arabic for steadfastness). The left’s threats to migrate are understandable and justifiable – who wants to live under Bezalel Smotrich, or be educated by Miri Regev? That’s not how you win the fight for the soul of the country. That’s how you raise your hands in surrender. This is by no means a condemnation of migration from Israel, nor a fulmination against it. When the state, the nation and religion outweigh the personal life, you get fascism.

Attitudes toward those who emigrate from Israel has changed, and it’s a good thing it has – from “a shedding of weaklings,” as Yitzhak Rabin put it, and a source of great shame to an object of envy and a symbol of success. I remember a friend of my parents who lived most of his life in Maryland, but even in the ninth decade of his life there were whispers that he had just gone to study in America and will soon return. The term “yordim,” those who descend from Israel, has long since been excised from usage. It remains only to excise its twin, “olim,” those who ascend to Israel, in order to eliminate the false sense that Israel is a high, exalted place. It’s how we were taught.

The right’s electoral victory is more long-term than it may seem. We can endlessly debate what would have happened if Labor and Meretz had united, Balad had crossed the threshold and Yair Lapid had fostered unity in the ranks. The rightward drift is a deep process that didn’t begin with Yesh Atid, nor will it end with the next Netanyahu-less government. The vast majority of the people are right-wing. There is no deadlock, not even close. While the impending coalition has no trace of a left wing, the opposition has plenty of right wing. While the right doesn’t hesitate to present its positions, the left is mostly engaged in blurring them and running away from them. Israel has long since turned right: to religion, to nationalism and to racism. That’s what we have to live with.

Those who won’t give up, remain. The fight seems hopeless at the moment. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Israel becomes a liberal, egalitarian and secular country, a country of all its inhabitants. The choice to continue living here is of course personal, and all choices are legitimate. I’m staying.

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Relocation? Threats to Abandon Israel Only Come From One Side of the Political Map

8 13 24
15.11.2022

Have you ever heard of right-wing supporters threatening to leave the country, who hope that their children won’t live in it? That’s the prevailing tone among the center-left now. Following the victory of the right and the religious in the elections, many Israelis have reverted to threatening relocation.

Talk of emigration among the left is of course not new. After every needless war or electoral defeat the tune of the emigrants rises. Naturally, there is a gap between talk of emigration, as furious and desperate as it may be, and actually making the move. Only 750,000 Israelis have permanently left the country since its establishment. In 2020, for instance, deep under the rule of Benjamin Netanyahu, only some 10,000 people left the country. These are not numbers that dismantle a country. They don’t even change policy, as anti-occupation supporters around the world sometimes hope – that a protest migration will empty Israel, weaken it and bring about a change in its ways.

But it cannot be ignored that the threats of abandonment come from only one side of the........

© Haaretz


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