Op-ed: The wall of separation that differentiated the sane, Zionist left from the zany anti-Israel camp has fallen down. That leads some leftists, such as author Amos Oz and journalist Nahum Barnea, into a tragic state, as they can’t seem to tell the difference anymore.

It began in 2001. A UN conference convened in Durban, South Africa. It had representatives of states, as well as representatives from “rights organizations.” It was supposed to be an “anti-racism conference.” It became a racist and frightening festival of hatred and incitement against the State of Israel. It’s not as if there weren’t expressions of hatred before that. There were more than enough. But the conference became a turning point.

The picture became more and more worrisome. The BDS campaign, which began in 2005, made the problem worse still. Academics, activists and journalists took part in an increasingly powerful campaign of lies against Israel. Not criticism: Lies. What was once the peace camp in Israel withered, and was replaced by more and more “rights organizations.” The fight for peace was cast aside. The Durban/BDS syndrome became a global phenomenon.

Amos Oz. Some of his fellow B'Tselem members support the right of return. (Photo: Haim Zach)
Amos Oz. Some of his fellow B’Tselem members support the right of return. (Photo: Haim Zach)


The Zionist leftists, heirs of those who realized the Zionist dream, were supposed to preserve the wall of separation that differentiates justified – even if harsh – criticism, which every democratic society needs, from demonization, whose central point is denying Israel’s right to exist. But that wall has slowly been broken down. The language of Durban and the BDS movement gradually took over the dialogue regarding rights.

“The Israeli Left,” wrote Dr. Tzvia Greenfield, “has in large part become a party that explicitly or implicitly no longer believes in the legitimate right of the Jewish state to exist.” Dr. Greenfield is not a right-winger. She was a Knesset member from the Meretz party, and is a member of the B’Tselem board of directors.

Amos Oz is among the most influential leftist intellectuals in Israel. He represents the Zionist left’s righteous ambition: Ending Israeli rule over the Palestinians in order to prevent the disaster of a bi-national state. Just a few weeks ago I wrote that in two lectures he gave last year, “Oz represented what the Zionist left could have been: Sober, fair, Zionist. But most of all, an alternative to the path leading us toward a single state, which would not be a bi-national state, as Oz says, but an Arab one.”

The BDS movement. The sprout of a seed planted at the 2001 UN conference in Durban, South Africa.
The BDS movement. The sprout of a seed planted at the 2001 UN conference in Durban, South Africa.


And that’s what’s tragic here. Oz, that same sober, Zionist thinker, is a member of the public council of B’Tselem, an organization with several leaders supporting the “right of return.” One of Oz’s fellow council members thinks Israel is a Nazi monster which needs to be squashed. Oz himself boycotts Israeli outposts abroad. What is that if not a backing of BDS? It’s a tragedy, since Oz’s pointed words become pointless when he, even he, participates in tearing down the wall that has to separate the sane left from Durban syndrome.

Journalist Nahum Barnea published an article on this very website (and in the daily paper Yedioth Ahronoth), in which he expressed his anger over the campaign I am running, two days ago. He’s accusing me of “shaming” and “McCarthyism.” It sounds familiar. I’ve heard plenty of such hollow statements coming from the radical left in the past few years. Every exposé becomes “persecution.” I’m used to it. Barnea insists on proving my claim right: Part of the left that was supposed to be sane is adopting the language of the zany left. It’s not just Oz, but Barnea as well.

Nahum Barnea. Accusations of "shaming." (Photo: Dana Kopel)
Nahum Barnea. Accusations of “shaming.” (Photo: Dana Kopel)


Not all leftists are that way. Amnon Rubinstein, Ruth Gavison, Elhanan Yakira, Aharon Megged, Shlomo Avineri, Alexander Yakobson, Gadi Taub, and others have been and still are expressing criticism of the deterioration of parts of the left. Their way is also my own.

Barnea’s criticism also brings up other quandaries. According to his logic, exposing the ties Breaking the Silence has with the BDS movement is pillaging through filth. He doesn’t want exposés, he wants silencing. For his information, I won’t be deterred by mean nicknames. I have no intention of shutting up.

As reported by Ynetnews