Whatever happened to the Israeli left?

Ian Buruma has a wide-ranging piece in the Guardian today:
In the 80s, after the invasion of Lebanon, many leftwing activists became positively hostile to the army, further alienating the very institution they had dominated before. This is regarded by many people, including some members of Peace Now, as a disastrous mistake. Israel is at war. To be against the army, upon which Israelis depend for their safety, is tantamount to being against Israel. And this makes no political sense.

What is left of the left, then, is something a little like Victorian charity, applied to the Palestinians, not in the form of soup kitchens, but as a desperate kind of solidarity, which is not always reciprocated. Secular liberals organise committees to monitor the roadblocks in the occupied territories. Organisations, such as B’tselem, concentrate on human rights abuses. But none of this translates into political power.

The paradox in Israel today is that the left has actually won some of the ideological battles, as far as the Palestinian problem is concerned. Most Israelis, including Ariel Sharon, agree that Palestinians should have their own state, even if they disagree on its ultimate form. Only a minority believe that Israel should occupy the Palestinian territories for ever. Most people are in favour of compromise. And yet, as Yair Tzaban put it, “only a rightwing government can carry it out”.