Compass points

15 January 2013

Locating the inner voter

I have been called a fascist, a bigot and a racist (and that’s only by family). Also extremely rude. OK I’ll own up to that one. But look at the chart based on my opinions. I am represented by the red dot. I’m just about as centrist as possible to be! Where do YOU fit on the Israeli Political Compass?

Israel political compass

Click this text link to do the test yourself
Glick graphic for a larger view?

Domestic or imported (politics), Sir?

When Five Minutes for Israelwas created it was decided to avoid Israeli and domestic politics elsewhere. That was an acknowledgment that Israel advocates come from all over the political spectrum. It was not our intention to alienate any potential supporter. That surprises many outsiders convinced that supporting Israel transforms one into a right-winger.

As Nicky Larkin noted in a piece coincidentally titled My political compass:

So therefore in “coming out” as a Zionist, I have automatically been labeled as a raving right-wing nut job. This confuses me greatly. Do the people holding those political compasses not realize that Israel’s very foundation was as a socialist state? Interestingly, the only place I’ve found it generally acceptable to have the words “leftwing” and “Zionist” in the same sentence is in Israel itself. Everywhere else, being a Zionist is automatically equivalent to being a right-wing lunatic and a Fox News fan. 

One doesn’t have to visit the Emerald Isle to experience this. I have met many olim who have told me that back in America/Britain/Australia they were active supporters of the Democrats/Labour Party/Australian Labor Party. Then without moving their opinions as much as one centimetre rightward they land at Ben Gurion to discover they are now not only right-wingers but extreme right wingers! This is one reason I try to avoid labeling any position on the Israel-Palestine-Arab-Muslim conflict as left, right or even the most abused term of all – centrist. (Please read Israel vs. everybody, the Pyramid model: A multidimensional model for locating the elephants in the room† for more about graphically positioning this conflict on an international rather than domestic scale). This is also my reason for supporting the Political Compass’s attempt to provide descriptive analysis that steps beyond the totally misleading left/right labels. If the Israeli model corresponds to the general political compassset-up the further you are to the top of the chart the more authoritarian you are. Conversely the closer to the bottom the more libertarian. Left and Right remain the same.

Mao Zedung - Dalai Lama composite

Two left-wing faces of the same coin?
I don’t think so.

Left right out of the picture

I like to explain the concept like this. By general consensus Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung) and the 14th Dalai Lama are both left-wingers. Does that tell us anything we can use to predict behaviour? I don’t think so. But when you realise that Mao is very high (off the chart?) on the Authoritarian scale while the Lama is strongly on the Libertarian scale that a truer picture emerges. Just think about that when someone tells you that Prime Minister Netanyahu is an extreme right-winger but doesn’t think Mahmud Abbas has any wings, all.Or when some self described left-winger fails, heaven forbid, to describe Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as a Fascist.

Action items:

Do the test yourself. The 2013 Election Compass, The Israel Democracy Institute

Further reading:

† Originally titled Always look for the elephant. For some strange WordPress reason I can’t save that title and it always comes out as Auto Draft. Search engines do locate it under the original title. Help?

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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