Former IDF General, Would-Be Leader of “Zionist Left,” Complains “Leftist” is Equivalent to N-Word Astonishing racist comment from MK who seeks to lead Israel's "Left Zionist" Party
After former IDF Gen. Yair Golan failed to be named army chief of staff, he decided to enter politics, as almost all generals and spy chiefs do in Israel. A natonal security state raises all these figures on a gold pedestal. They tend to see their heroes as defenders of the state. The more Arabs they kill, the more heroic they are. And naturally, more desirable as political candidates.
Before he retired, Golan delivered an astonishing (for an active-duty general) speech in which he warned that Israeli racism and extremism reminded him of Nazi Germany. By then, Golan surely knew he would not be promoted to the top job. Otherwise, he certainly would not have given a speech like this. Thus, he felt emboldened to speak out.
Not to mention, his attempt to ingratiate himself with the Left electorate, which he planned to lead after leaving army service. Left-wing Israelis were pleasantly shocked at his candor. His fellow generals and the Israeli far-right considered him a traitor to the nation.
But after joining Meretz, Israel’s “Zionist left” party, Golan has backtracked significantly. He runs from the term “leftist.” He seeks to make Meretz into a soft-left alternative to the Labor Party, which itself is in danger of vanishing in the next November election. Or perhaps he’s aiming to peel off the few “leftist” voters who support the center-right parties, notably Blue and White, who formed the current coalition government. At any rate, he has in effect returned to his military roots which offer a security-based approach to political issues.
Golan and the N-Word
Whatever his thinking, he gave an interview to the Times of Israel Hebrew edition, Zman, in which he offered a scandalous comparison between the Hebrew word for leftist (שמאלן)and the N-word. Except, he didn’t use that pejorative American term. He actually used the full word itself. I’m obviously not going to use it here. But you can see it in the accompanying screenshots of both the Hebrew passage and the English translation published in Mondoweiss. Inexplicably, that ostensibly progressive website also used the unexpurgaged term.
In the interview, Golan complained that the Israeli right uses the word “leftist” as a curse word. He argued that Likud hooligans spit out the word in the same way that American racists shout the N-word. He declared that he was going to end the shame progressive Israelis feel when they hear the word shouted at them.
His use of the term and the analogy itself is not only offensive and racist, but preposterous. The N-word for African Americans (and all decent Americans) is a word redolent of racism, slavery, lynching, etc. It represents the worst of America; the true nadir of human brutality. How can Golan possibly compare the degrading term to the word “leftist?”
The American pejorative term symbolizes pure unadulterated hatred. Further, an African American cannot change his/her race. The word attempts to destroy their identity and humanity. While smolan is a nasty word when uttered by the foul mouths of louts like Yair Netanyahu, it has nothing like the horrifying impact of the N-word. Not only does Golan not understand the history of American racism; he offers a simplistic comparison that insults African-Americans.
Any American will tell you the N-word is verboten. The only people who use it are white supremacists and ignorant Ameicans raised on racism and hate (of whom there are entirely too many). No one, certainly not a “white” member of the Israeli Ashkenazi elite, has any right to utter it.
The Rudderless Israeli Left
Golan’s cluelessness bespeaks the rudderless state of what was once called the “Israeli left” (or perhaps more aptly, the “patriotic left”). One might argue that it once had its day decades ago. But since then, it has wandered aimlessly in the poltical desert. It doesn’t know what it is. Has no clue what it wants to be. Has no concept of how to win anything, let alone an election.
Of one thing you can be sure: Meretz and the Labor Party, sometimes called the “Zionist left” have never met an Israeli war they didn’t like. The scenario goes something like this: Israel invades Lebanon or Gaza to the full-throated support of Meretz’s party leadership. Given that 95% of Israelis will always support “the boys” in their campaign to rid Israel of its Arab enemies, Meretz goes along in lock step. Not a peep about war crimes, mass murder or senseless wars.
But a few weeks in, when the war becomes a grinding mess and people start wondering what went wrong and why Israel seems stuck in a quagmire, then all of a sudden Meretz wakes from its slumber and grows a spine. That’s when you’ll hear the Party start to murmur that maybe this war wasn’t such a good idea after all.
So it is astonishing that a leading candidate to lead this aimless Party is none other than a former general who buys into racist language, like it’s going out of style. What does it say about a supposedly progressive Party that it’s being asked to name Golan, racist insults dripping from his mouth, to lead it?
8 thoughts on “Former IDF General, Would-Be Leader of “Zionist Left,” Complains “Leftist” is Equivalent to N-Word – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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“The only people who use it are white supremacists and ignorant Ameicans(sic) raised on racism and hate (of whom there are entirely too many)”.
African Americans use the term freely, as a descriptive term and as a pejorative.
And, BTW, African Americans are often as bigoted as Whites in their treatment of minorities.
“No one, certainly not a “white” member of the Israeli Ashkenazi elite, has any right to utter it”
While many Israeli Jews hold Muslim Arabs in contempt, that animus is not based on any notion of racial superiority (as is likely the case in America), and most Israelis embrace Ethiopian Jews and treat Black African migrants civilly.
Although Richard will disagree with nearly everything I’ve said here, I’ve lived in Israel long enough to speak from experience.
@ Judah: Please, don’t give me lectures on American language and usage. I assure you I know far more on the subject than you ever will. Especially on this particular subject. You clearly did not understand that there are two entirely different usages of the N-word. The one that is most common and most notorious is the one I described. Some African Americans use the same term in street colloquial. This usage is based on emotional trauma and oppression. The speaker is bsically saying: You can call me the worst word you can think of and I’m going to throw it back in your face and use it in the opposite sense you intend it. This is a way of turning suffering on its head and turn it into something that is more positive. Though many African Americans avoid the term in this colloquial usage for obvious reasons.
I don’t think we need a white Ashkenazi Jew telling us about African American bigotry. BUt any time you want to tell us about Israeli bigotry toward “minorities,” we’re all ears.
I almost spit in my coffee cup at that one. Zionism has, from its inception been nothing but an expression of racial superiority. This may have been thanks to the oppression and suffering Jews experienced in Europe, which they brought with them to Eretz Yisrael. An oppressed people or minority almost always needs an even more oppressed minority to lord it over. American immigrant history is full of such exmaples.
Your’e either an outright liar and one of the most ignorant hasbarists this side of Tel Aviv. Anyone who reas any Israeli newspaper knows what you’re claiming is nonsense. Riots, beatings, murders, by Israeli Jews against both Ethiopian Jews and African refugees (do not use the term “migrant” here–it is racist and not permitted).
Some of the most ignorant ill-informed Israelis are ones who’ve lived there as you have. Some of the best-informed, sharpest analytical minds on Israel do not live there. As I always say, you can study virtually any field and be deeply immersed and well-informed without living there. This is the 21st century, not the 19th.
Do astronomers need to live on stars to study them?
No more comments here.
[comment deleted: this is not the rooting section for Team Israel. Your next comment like this will be your last.]
[comment deleted: WAY off topic.]
[comment deleted: I don’t permit scurrilous, deceitful attacks on the Left. Yours were smears with no basis in fact. I have no patience or tolerance for garbage like yours. Your comment wasn’t even worth rebuttal. We deal in facts here. And opinnions like yours mean nothing with credible support, which you neglected to offer.]
As an English <> Hebrew translator, I have to say that your judgement and liguistic sensibility here is off the mark. He doesn’t say that being called “leftist” is like being called n-word, but that in both cases the choice of word is meant to humiliate. There are ימנים, but not שמאליים or אנשי שמאל, but rather the deragatory שמאלנים (or worse variations, as mentioned above).
@jonathan: yours is a distinction without a difference. He linked both words together in the same sentence. You can parse it any way you wish. BUt anyone who knows or speaks Hebrew (apart from you) will understand what he meant and that how I analyzed it is sound.
in the wake of the recent Israeli strikes on Gaza, on Aug. 05 2022, how likely is it that the main reason are the Israel’s internal politics? The conjecture I have seen on other social media platforms assume that, given the looming elections, the ruling party wants to appear strong and war-capable to their constituents.
The official reason that is given, about PIJ threats could have been used as a reason at any time, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense unless there are some other justifications that I missed. It would seem a real sickness if the governments would sacrifice innocent people from both sides, especially Palestinians who take the brunt of these strikes, for the sake of politics and elections. With the last year’s May escalations and these now, it seems like the different parties are trying to out-murder each other for the sake of appealing to the overblown insecurities of Israeli population, and with it further increasing them.
The elections-escalations conjecture was mentioned on different platforms but I wish for your article on the topic or a similar voice to give it some weight if it holds merit.