Renana Raz, an Israeli dancer and choreographer, recently appeared in a Meretz ad titled "Renana Raz is Searching for her 'tendencies'" (h/t Amit Gevaryahu). This one-minute video nicely sums up the identity problem of the Israeli left I articulated earlier. It equates someone who decides to tell the world they're voting Meretz with someone who decides to tell the world they're gay. In other words, it makes being left an act of identity-expression.
The ad has Renana, a common (and pretty) face in Israeli commercials, apparently talking about how and why she's a lesbian (she's not). The clip begins with the line: "I have someone. And I want to tell you about her because she's really something special to me."
Without introduction, the viewer would be confused. Isn't this supposed to be a Meretz ad? Raz continues:
She knows how to touch… on just the things that are truly important. She's smart. And she's honest. And she… she knows what’s good and what's right, and she's there for me. Mostly, I'm really sick of these people who only come to me when they need something. I need someone to pay attention to me, that will be interested in what I need, what I want, what I feel. I need something like that. Equality, human rights, a political settlement [to the conflict], and freedom of religion. That's the reason I decided to come out of the closet.
And then her kicker: "I'm with Zahava Gal-On. I'm with Meretz."
I spoke with Zahava Gal-On, the head of the Meretz Party, last week at the ACRI March for Human Rights. I asked her what we could do with all of the power of the organizations that were present at the march. She told me that they should all centralize under the one banner of the one party that is dedicated to human rights—her party, Meretz.
And she might be right. Meretz could (perhaps should) be the party for leftist issues across the board. But advertising that coming out as a leftist is just like coming out as being homosexual compounds the left’s already-powerful self-perception as marginal and persecuted. Making lefties feel like a cultural minority is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and if Meretz is serious about holding political power it might consider a different tack. Until then, Meretz can only hope for the 3-5 Knesset seats it’s held since 2003. Good luck, Israeli left.