In a SPIEGEL interview, former Knesset president Avraham Burg discusses the right-wing surge in elections, the “monopoly of the Holocaust” on Israelis’ everyday lives and opportunities missed by the Palestinians and Israel.
Avraham Burg on the election of the right-wing parties and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s imminent return as prime minister: “The Israeli society has been kidnapped by the settler movement.” (AP)
SPIEGEL: Mr. Burg, a majority of Israelis voted for right-wing parties, and now Benjamin Netanyahu is prime-minister designate. As someone who supports the Israeli left, are you feeling a bit lonely these days?
Burg: I feel I am losing my political, ideological and spiritual home. My political home today, the Meretz party, shrank to only three seats in the Knesset. As an Israeli I feel lost because so many of my fellow countrymen are in love with war — as the solution for everything. But the most existential loss is spiritual: For me, being a Jew is being a universalist, a humanist. I can’t understand any Jew who votes right-wing. I can’t understand how a Jew can speak a language of xenophobia. And yet so many of them just did.
SPIEGEL: You’re referring primarily to the ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman, whose Israel Beytenu Party became the third-strongest in Israel’s parliament.
Burg: If you had told me 20 years ago that a day would come when this racist ideology would be represented with 15 seats in the Knesset, I would have said that was impossible. Now it’s as if the crossing of this red line were natural. Lieberman doesn’t talk about the West Bank and the borders of 1967. He brings us back to 1948, when tens of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes. Now Lieberman wants the remaining Israeli-Arabs to leave the Jewish state.
SPIEGEL: How could an election result like this have happened?