The Brilliant and Short-Sighted Strategy of the Israeli Right

Ever since 1948, Israeli governments have undermined popular support for a fully socialist society by playing the national security card, forcing people to choose between a civil struggle against fellow Jews who benefit from economic inequalities and an outward-looking struggle against Arab enemies and Palestinians seeking to return to their place of birth. That choice became even more intense in 1977 when Likud and its Thatcherite, Milton Friedman-esque worship of the free market took over. This worship shaped government policies, slowly undermined the public sector, allowed the kibbutzim to collapse under the weight of escalating and unaffordable interest on bank loans, and fostered the economic power of elite billionaires and millionaires whose media and political influence seemed overwhelming. So when a mass uprising began in the summer of 2011, with tent encampments rising in many Israeli cities and engaging hundreds of thousands of people in massive demonstrations, it wasn’t surprising that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government promoted the fantasy that the Palestinian Authority’s attempt to get recognition at the United Nations would launch a September intifada against which Israelis had to mobilize and hence not pay more attention to the allegedly solidarity-splitting demands for economic fairness. ...

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Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun, co-chair with Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He is the author of eleven books, including two national bestsellers—The Left Hand of God and Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. His most recent book, Embracing Israel/Palestine, is available on Kindle from and in hard copy from He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership comes with a subscription to Tikkun magazine). You can contact him at

Source Citation

Lerner, Michael. 2012. The Brilliant and Shortsighted Strategy of the Israeli Right. Tikkun 27(1): 9.

tags: Editorial, Israel/Palestine, Politics & Society   
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