Interview with Prof. Nissim Mizrachi by Ari Libsker, Calcalist Weekend Magazine (Hebrew) December 28, 2023
Prof. Nissim Mizrachi observed with trepidation how the conflict between the liberals and the “rooted” over the judicial reform nearly demolished Israeli society. In a penetrating interview, he clarifies the connection between the sanctification of individual autonomy and the outbreak of antisemitism on October 7, explains why Mizrahi voters (Jews whose families originated in North African and Middle Eastern countries) refuse to abandon Benjamin Netanyahu, and expresses certainty that Benny Gantz’s skyrocketing poll numbers show that Israel can be healed only by a hard-nosed, uncompromising center.
“The autonomous individual” is Prof. Nissim Mizrachi’s reply to explain how the American academic community’s reaction to the events of October 7, a reaction that enraged so many, came to be. “The autonomy of the individual is sacred,” he says.
What does that mean and how does it explain, for example, the stance taken by the presidents of elite universities who appeared before a congressional committee and claimed that calling for genocide against Jews is not necessarily reprehensible but instead “depends on context”?
Sanctifying the autonomy of the individual means that any social connection that impinges upon that autonomy is considered offensive, reprehensible, and even disgusting. For example, if a Jewish student were to say in public that she has fallen in love with a Muslim guy but marrying him would be a problem because he isn’t Jewish, she would be suspected of racism. The reason is that every social boundary—religious, ethnic, or any other—is secondary to the autonomy of the individual. What limits the individual it is immediately suspect, repugnant, and even disgusting.
Individual autonomy means, for example, at any moment one’s sexual identity can be defined by oneself, and not by the religion or culture to which one belongs, as was the case in the past and is still so in certain cultures. That is an extreme expression of this principle, one that came to be sanctified in recent years, and it consciously calls into question community and the collective, which are perceived as a repressive force. The worldview of a progressive moral and political order is of a universal citizen who lives in a global world and a neutral country. And that already hints at the way in which Israel is portrayed a priori as a Jewish state.
Israel is perceived as a state that sanctifies Jewish superiority, and its rule over millions of Palestinians deprived of civil rights just strengthens that image.
I still don’t understand how that explains the support given by the progressive camp in the US to Hamas, or even to the citizens of Gaza who support that organization. Hamas, after all, is intolerant of the West, certainly as compared to Israel, and with harsh violence it rejects all attempts to promote liberal values.
That brings us back to a picture of a world founded on relationships of rule and force. The critical-progressive assumption in its most simplistic form perceives a clear and absolute division of the world between oppressors and oppressed—and in the spirit of the post-colonialist approach, a division between disenfranchisers and the disenfranchised. That’s the overall narrative structure, and on it rests a grand morality tale of good people and evil ones.
What that means is that ethical judgment is determined by the structure, and so Israelis are victimizers and not victims, oppressors and not oppressed. So even if you recognize that the Palestinians and Hamas acted immorally in a particular instance, in the big picture their struggle is moral and just, and you have to side with them.
But there are also those who deny that the horrific events in the Gaza-envelope communities too place.
Public denial of the very fact of the slaughter, assuming it doesn’t stem from a lie, is a product of absolute allegiance to the general structural and moral narrative. Assessment of reality is influenced by what is known in social psychology as “motivated reason,” meaning that we cling to a narrative that we hold dear, that shapes our understanding of the world. From that standpoint, one has to oppose any contradictory evidence that spoils the narrative.
Testimonies and evidence about the massacre that Hamas inflicted on Israeli citizens mess up the story, so there is strong motivation to undermine that evidence and to continue to defend the simplistic narrative. There is no room for nuances or a plot twist. Commitment to the narrative is more important than facts that mess it up. You don’t need evidence in order to support the narrative that you believe in, but rather the opposite: you arrange the evidence so that it comports well with your narrative.
What about someone who does not deny the massacre but wants to move on right away to the “context”?
Emotionally, moving on to context makes it possible to rapidly deflect any uncomfortable coming to grips with the horrors committed by the very ‘victims’—in the grand moral tale, those are the Palestinians—against the ‘victimizers,’ the Israelis. In general, you have to remember that empathy we show toward someone else’s suffering is influenced by our moral conception of the one who is suffering. For example, if we identify suffering when a man who raped a three-year-old girl is captured, we nonetheless won’t experience the same empathy towards his suffering as we will toward the girl, who is a pure victim.
So, from the point of view of those that demand “context” the Israeli civilians are not pure victims. By the way, it is also important to understand that from the point of view of many Israelis, killing many Gazan civilians does not arouse much empathy, since they are not perceived as pure victims. We don’t deserve to be let off the hook: Israelis too have a ‘context’” [that allows us to ignore the suffering of Gazans].
“The Left Ignored the Human Need for Belonging”
Mizrachi, 61, is a professor of sociology and former head of the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University, and today a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, where he heads the unit on “The Challenge of Living Together,” in conjunction with the Shaharit Institute. In 2016 he served as a visiting professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. For more than a decade he has been conducting research on progressive liberalism, its roots and its motives, and his articles have appeared in influential journals around the world, earning him many international awards.
In his new book, Beyond Suspicion, to be released in the Spring, he deals with, in the words of the subtitle, The Moral Clash between Rootedness and Progressive Liberalism. Mizrachi argues in that book that the left concentrated its attention on freedom and equality but failed to pay attention to another profound human need, the need for belonging.
Contemporary critical social science focused on researching inequality and repression,” he says, “while the left in civil society and politics concentrated on achieving social justice according to those two hallowed principles. But that is also precisely the source of the left’s difficulty in gaining the support of the population on the periphery—in Israel and elsewhere.”
In Mizrachi’s view, there is a clash between the universal ethic of freedom and equality and the need felt by many communities for belonging. His research identifies a profound stance opposed to the position that consecrates individual autonomy, a stance he calls “rootedness.” He thinks that in Israel, among much of the population, people experience themselves as belonging to a “whole” that is greater than themselves. Jews of the various “tribes” (as it were) “regard themselves as belonging to a great Jewish collective, which existed in the past, exists in the present, and must be preserved in the future. This conception, of course, is not shared by Jews alone. Muslims and other minorities in Israel also understand themselves that way.”
But there is a significant portion of the left that puts less emphasis on the individual and more on class, or social standing.
When we look at what is known as the ‘left,’ we can identify two central trends: one emphasizes the principle of freedom and acts to strengthen the autonomy of the individual. This is the progressive–identity politics wing. The other places more emphasis on the principle of equality and distributive justice. That characterizes the Marxist left, which has taken an updated form as the democratic socialists. But even the division by class here is based on tampering with the principle of equality among individuals, which stems from perceiving the individual as being located at a particular place in the class structure. It is true that also on the liberal side that emphasizes liberty there is recognition of the need for community, but most liberal ‘communitarian’ approaches still sanctify the autonomy of the individual, including autonomy in choosing a community.
At the left end of the spectrum, there is a position I call “rootless,” a fairly small group that is opposed to any connection of the individual to a collective that limits the individual’s autonomy. In Israel that is a group characteristic of the radical post-Zionist left, and it is common in contemporary critical discourse in the academic world as well. A friend of mine at a leading American university put it this way: if you are a white liberal American academic and you choose to define your national identity as American, you may be considered a racist who promotes white supremacy and identifies with a repressive regime. And it doesn’t matter if you are a supporter of blacks.”
When Ben Gurion set up the state, he tried to blend two worlds: universalism and rootedness.
Right, Zionism is like that. The founding narrative of Zionism is a story of the birth of a people. It is not only a political story about the birth of the state, but an identity story as well: the birth of the New Jew—secular, modern, rational, made for liberal democracy and the free market. Rootedness of that sort characterizes the broad group that protested against the judicial reform a few months ago. Religious people, Haredim, and traditionalist (“mesorati”) Mizrahi Jews were perceived from the outset of the Zionist project as ‘inappropriate’ for it.
There are, of course, other kinds of rootedness that conflict with the civil Israeli rootedness that I have described. There are communities that are located more at the religious end of the spectrum of rootedness, and for them the mythic time of the Bible is the time of the birth of the Jewish collective. The division between those two perceptions of time is the source of the tension between the conceptions of the state as first and foremost Jewish or first and foremost civil, Israeli.
“What the Left Regards as Morality, the ‘Rooted’ Camp Regards as Traitorous Behavior”
Mizrachi was born to two blind parents. He grew up in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of Jerusalem, and thanks to his mother’s insistent refusal to allow him to be sent to a vocational school, he graduated from an academically-oriented high school. He completed an M.A., summa cum laude, at the Hebrew University, won a Fulbright scholarship for doctoral studies in the United States, and studied at the University of Michigan and at Harvard.
Back in 2011, with his article “Beyond the Garden and the Jungle,” which aroused innumerable discussions and was the subject of dozens of columns and articles, Mizrachi explained the failure of human rights discourse to gain the support of groups in Israel’s social and geographical periphery, among them right-wing Mizrahi Jews. In contrast to the claims that that failure is rooted in false consciousness on the part of people in the periphery or a failure to impart the message, Mizrachi argues that the problem is in the message of human rights itself. To his way of thinking, the individualist and universalist assumption that underlies the discourse of rights, which sees the individual as a carrier of rights that take precedence over community and state, is the source of the problem and not the key to its solution.
That position, he notes, “makes any religious or national boundary superfluous, to the benefit of abstract individuals in Haifa and Beirut and it is perceived as a serious threat to identity of the “rooted” groups—Jewish, Muslim, and others. What human rights activists regard as exalted universal morality, weakened populations see as traitorous behavior of the most vile sort.
In your article, “Beyond the Garden and the Jungle,” you used a metaphor of “garden” and “jungle” to describe the way in which human rights activists in Israel see their own camp as “an illuminated liberal garden” linked to the enlightened West, as opposed to the religious-nationalist environment in which they are active, the “jungle.”
I described their experience as that of people living on ‘an island of sanity,’ an illuminated garden surrounded by a jungle threatening to encroach upon it and destroy it. In their view, beyond the threatening jungle there is a large garden of the liberal West, which constitutes for the small Israeli garden a source of authority and justification, and perhaps also a hope that from it, in the end, a life preserver will be tossed to the smaller garden and to the entire region.
And then on October 7, human rights activists and left-wing Israeli organizations were surprised to discover that the progressive left around the world turned its back on them.
Indeed, on October 7, the big garden said to the little garden, “You are not a garden. You are a jungle.”
How do you explain that?
That happened because the operating system that the small garden used against the jungle was turned on it. When the thinking is that the world is made up of ‘victims and victimizers,’ it is very difficult to relate to the moral stance of the rulers, even when they themselves become the victim.
In my research and that of my graduate students, we have more than once encountered the inability of the progressives and the human rights advocates to recognize the moral stance of Jews in Israel, who are identified, as far as they are concerned, with the jungle. On October 7, the people of the largest garden in the world placed the left-wing camp, and even the victims of the massacre who were on the left, in a generic, simplistic structure of ‘exploiters’ versus ‘exploited.’ This time the Israeli left was on the wrong side of the story.
“Mizrahim Do Not Perceive Themselves as an Oppressed Group”
Let’s go back to the need to belong and the concept of “rootedness” that you develop in your new book. In Israeli Jewish society, especially in this period of war, there is a clear majority of the “rooted.” On the other hand, until just a bit more than two months ago, we were in a profound crisis surrounding the country’s identity. Is “rootedness” able to explain the divisions and connections within Israeli society?
Rootedness reflects a need for a sense of belonging. But the experience of being connected to that whole that came into being in the past, and into which we are molded in the present, and that we want to keep in existence for future generations, is not the same for everyone. That experience is based on various principals that define the whole.
In the modern world, it can be ‘citizenship,’ which defines belonging to the state and membership in a political community through my citizenship: I am Belgian; he is French. A different principle is the primordial principle: blood ties, kindship, connection to the earth and to a chain of generations that exists over time. This sounds at times like a basis for racism, and rightfully so, but in the moderate versions of this principle, family ties too are primordial. The third principle is the sources of authority through which the boundaries of the whole are established: God or human reason? And on top of all this there are the types of rooted time. In the Jewish-Israeli context, are we talking about Zionist time or mythic-Biblical time.
How does that explain the battle over the judicial reform/revolution?
If we take a look at the dramatic constitutional crisis that we went through until October 7, one can try to locate the different camps in the rootedness space that I have described. The deep fault line ran between the democratic-liberal camp on one side and the government and the supporters of the reform from the Haredi and right-wing religious Zionist camp on the other.
Hundreds of thousands of people from the secular middle class coalesced into a united camp to defend the civil, secular, and democratic character of the state, which they perceived as being threatened. That was a crisis of identity and a crisis of trust. The sanctified civil code that, in their view, preserved and defended Israeli identity as a secular national identity and Israel’s identity as a ‘normal’ Western country had become subject to threat. The republican camp woke up. That’s the explanation for the scenes of hundreds of thousands of regular folks who had discovered that they are a group and waved the flag of Israel.
They went out to defend the secular democratic order and the institution considered the Holy of Holies of that order—the Supreme Court. The meaning of preserving the Supreme Court was defending the possible world in which they can live. The threat was perceived as existential. Maybe we have managed to forget a little bit since October 7, but many people from that camp could barely sleep, in their tremendous fear. It was existential angst.
The secular republican camp, whose rootedness is in Zionist time, was joined, tentatively, by groups on the post-Zionist radical-progressive left, who waved Palestinian flags. Despite the rifts between segments of that side, which became evident over the course of the crisis, the basis for coming together was what both camps experienced as an attempt to put an end to the secular democratic state. For the secular-liberal republican camp, Israeliness defines Jewish identity, and it is more meaningful than the Jewish identity of Judaism and its laws. For that camp, for example, an Israeli education and military service make it possible for non-Jews too to gain full entry into the Jewish-Israeli collective. All that is not true, of course, of the religious components within the governing coalition.
You mean the Haredim?
Among the Haredim, especially the Ashkenazi Haredim, the civil realm is really not sanctified. It is an administrative realm copied from the world of the goyim. Religious-halakhic Jewish identity is what defines the collective in which they function, and the Torah of the Jews is the Holy of Holies. As far as they are concerned, the Jewish collective is connected to mythic time, and Zionist time is a historical mishap. They are connected to religious sources of justification, so the courts are certainly not a sanctified source of authority. The significance of this is that the threat experienced by the people of the democratic camp had a basis in reality.
And what about the other two groups, the religious Zionists and the Likudniks?
Those two groups operate in the interstices between Zionist time and mythic time, and between the civil codes and the religious and primordial codes. Through the connection that religious Zionism makes between mythic time and Zionist time, it strives to redefine the political center in Israel. Even though its electoral strength is not great, somewhere around 7 or 8 Knesset seats, the rootedness of religious Zionism is utopian. It is guided by an ideological vision of ge’ulah—redemption—for the people Israel, which links the two times and moves between the religious and civil sources of authority, and between religiosity and modernity.
And the Likudniks?
They also make a connection between modernity and religion. They believe in the democratic game, and they have been through immense changes, such as the election to the Likud Central Committee of Amir Ohana, a homosexual, by a large margin. At the same time, that group [i.e., the Likudniks] also has deep sentiments regarding the religious-rootedness side. They live, organically, in between two worlds: totally integrated in the democratic political game, the market economy, and all spheres of life—but making the pilgrimage to Mt. Meron too. The big difference between them and the religious Zionists is that they have no aspiration to define the political center and they do not have an ideological vision according to which they would like to shape the entire society. I call their rootedness “pragmatic rootedness.”
And how do you explain their support for Benjamin Netanyahu before the war? We’re talking about a person who is the opposite of them in many ways—a privileged Ashkenazi from [the tony Jerusalem neighborhood of] Rehavia.
Here we return to the blind spot in the academic and public discussion in understanding the connection between inequality and a political position, especially when it comes to Mizrahi Jews from the social periphery. According to all the studies we have, Mizrahim from the social periphery do not perceive themselves as an oppressed minority group but rather as part of the Jewish collective.
Because internal Jewish ethnic discrimination is a thing of the past?
To remove any doubt: ethnic discrimination has receded to a notable degree, but it still exists. Even so, it has minimal, if any, influence on the voting patterns of Mizrahim. What underlies their voting patterns is their self-perception as part of the Jewish majority, that is, as people whose identity is part and parcel of the Jewish-Israeli collective. Remember, demographically the Mizrahim are also the majority among Israeli Jews.
In my new book I show how even when they are confronted with data that indicate ethnic discrimination, they do not regard it as a sin that has to be considered a dreadful horror or something that can arouse among Mizrahim a consciousness of being a minority suffering discrimination. For that reason, every attempt by the left to think that they [i.e., Likud voters] are motivated only by feelings of disenfranchisement and strive for ethnic representation is mistaken and fails, time after time. The Labor Party, when it was headed by Amir Peretz, Orly Levy, and Itzik Shmuli—three Mizrahim held in high regard and untainted by corruption who were treated to favorable coverage by the media—didn’t get a single Likudnik to budge and switch back to the Labor Party. Mizrahim in the periphery do not want to be thought of as a weak group, or one weakened by the system, but as part of ‘am Yisrael, the Jewish people. The ones who stir up opposition from them are not the Ashkenazim. Two of the great icons for them, Begin and Netanyahu, were Ashkenazim. What’s important is who leads the Jewish people, who protects the Jewish collective and the State of Israel.
They can absolutely identify injustices and sometimes rise up to oppose them, but situations of discrimination do not arouse antagonism toward the entire state and do not cause them to ally themselves with non-Jewish minority groups such as the Palestinians and the foreign workers. That is a fantasy untethered to reality, one that is based on the worldview I described at the outset here, of a neutral civil realm with universal citizens who feel discriminated against because of their ethnic origins and join together in a struggle alongside other minority groups.
You argue that the ethnic gap in Israel is less significant to Likud voters, but in the electoral crises of the last few years and in the constitutional struggle we saw [Likud ministers] Miri Regev and Dudi Amsalem going all out with attacks on Ashkenazim, and right-wing activists demonstrating outside the “Ashekenazi” kibbutzim.
There is a gap between what social activists and politicians say about Mizrahim as a ‘group’ and the experience of the Mizrahim themselves. In the case of Mizrahim in Israel, the degree to which they form a ‘group’—that is, their consciousness of being a separate minority group—is especially weak. For that reason, expressions of suppression, subordination, and exclusion at the hands of the old elite are generally translated into the struggle within the Jewish collective between left and right, and not between Mizrahim and Ashkenazim—and politicians hitch a ride on that.
The politicians of the Likud who do that paint the Ashkenazim as leftists, and by the way, the political gain from that is short-lived. Politicians’ overuse of the discourse of unfair treatment of Mizrahim brings them into disrepute among the broad Mizrahi public. For example, Moshe Kahlon and others have understood this and refrained from such discourse. The right-wing Mizrahi public supports those who, in its view, protect the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Ethnicity itself is not an organizing principle of right-wing Mizrahi political sentiment.
Even when Mizrahim were at the bottom rung of the economic and employment ladder and competed, so it seemed, with the Arabs, their place on that ladder still did not define their political loyalty. So of course, then, today Mizrahim have a justified sense of strong upward mobility. They are integrated into the cultural mainstream, and they play a central role in shaping it.
So why, then, were Mizrahi Likud voters among the supporters of the revolution in governance, if the system works to their benefit?
First of all, you’ve got to remember that plenty of people, in both camps, do not understand what that is about from a legal perspective. Many people on both sides have no idea regarding the criterion of reasonability and its broad legal and political significance. In other words, it is clear that the issue isn’t a debate about purely legal issues. The people with the flags took to the street because they sense a serious, existential threat to their identity. They went through a crisis of trust in the people leading them, who have always represented Haredi, messianic, and traditional rootedness, which clashes with the secular-democratic vision of an ethical and political order. And as soon as you have strong reactions from a particular camp, that causes strong reactions in the other camp. It is important to remember that concerns voiced by the supporters of the reform were not divorced from substantiated thinking. Prof. Menachem Mautner of the Tel Aviv University law faculty, for example, has been writing and speaking for years about the unrestrained power than the Supreme Court arrogated to itself under the leadership of Aharon Barak in the wake of the old elite’s defeat in the political arena. Without getting into the juridical polemics about this issue, the lack of trust in the court demonstrated for years by the camp that supported the reform is an indication of how deep the rift is. And the situation in which the court does not have public support that cuts across camps is dangerous for democracy, no matter which side shows a lack of faith in the court. We were at the brink of a profound constitutional crisis and a civil war.
So maybe there was an upside to October 7, which put a stop to the internal warfare?
I have no doubt that the war meant we were faced with a greater existential threat to all of the Jews, and that threat brought all the camps together. The existential threat that the war brought upon all of us eclipsed the earlier threat, which paled by comparison. But I’m sorry to say that the deep rifts that split society in Israel in the previous chapter of our lives are coming to the surface again.
Where do you see them?
Those rifts, for example, create tension and conflict among the families of the hostages. They are expressed in the tension between the two aims of the war—bringing the hostages home and defeating Hamas—and bring us back at times to the previous period of conflict between left and right, between those for and against Netanyahu, between opponents of the judicial reform and its supporters.
Do you think that a dialogue could be forged here between the two groups after what took place here between them?
During the previous crisis, people talked about the future of the judicial system and the relationships between branches of government, mostly through legislation. How to reinforce the judiciary and maintain the institutional standing of the court. But they didn’t talk about democracy as a culture, as a realm in which one can manage disagreement. As John Dewey, the American pragmatist philosopher, taught, you are not running a democracy if you aren’t tolerant of people who are profoundly different from you. Democracy is precisely the place in which you shape the public sphere through dialogue and through making space for others. If one side has concerns and hesitations regarding where the court went under Barak’s leadership, and on the other side there are other concerns, that can be worked out in a profound and serious manner without getting into a struggle that’s perceived as a war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness.
“The Center is Broad Enough; It Doesn’t Need Extreme Fringe Groups?
Mizrachi believes that the proper solution, after the war, to the internal crisis is “a radical center”. This move to the center found expression in the move in Benny Gantz’s direction:
I’m not saying that Gantz is necessarily the right person, but there we find an expression of who I envision as a radical center. The people in that place are not motivated by utopian visions or absolute ideologies, but rather by a carefully considered position that negates utopias on the left and on the right.
A radical center?
It sounds like a contradiction, because the connotation is of the camp composed of opportunistic compromisers, empty political hacks. But just as pragmatism does not look for the “truth” up on Mt. Olympus but in proximity to life itself, pragmatist political truth is based on a shared life together with people who are sometimes profoundly different from us, on the basis of fairness and solidarity. If we have displayed solidarity in war, we need to learn to create solidarity in less tense times, in a shared democratic framework. It’s impossible to defend democracy only through legislation or building fortifications around institutions.
During the demonstrations, many grassroots dialogue groups sprung up, and not by accident. It was an organic process that reflected people’s desire to understand the other side, in a spirit of mutual responsibility: ‘Your concern for the state’s Jewish identity is not exactly my concern, but it’s my concern because it is your concern,’ and vice-versa. That is a necessary step for developing a democratic culture of shared living in a deeply varied reality.
Doesn’t that itself sound utopian?
Maybe, but it’s not a position that is cut off from reality. What did we have in the previous government? [Right-of-center MK] Avigdor Lieberman, who said ‘without loyalty, no citizenship,’ sat together with [left-of-center MK] Tamar Zandberg. And [Jewish religious Zionist MK] Naftali Bennett sat with [Muslim Arab MK] Mansour Abbas. Why? Because they said, ‘Let’s work together for the country’s benefit.’
This coalition was not very successful, among other things because it did not include the central group in the center of the Likud voters, the Mizrahim, but that was the language. And in that space, there were people who reported that they underwent a change due to the very fact that they cooperated with people from a different background and a different worldview. That kind of politics make it possible to work with people and create realms of shared meaning.
That too has its limits. [Far-right MK] Itamar Ben Gvir cannot sit with Zandberg.
The center in Israel is broad enough; it does not need extreme fringe groups.”
It might be that you’ve forgotten that what drew the whole government together and motivated it was revulsion toward one man—Netanyahu.
Yes, but that’s another thing that people don’t understand, whether they like him or not: Netanyahu is a public figure behind whom stood two million supporters. You have to keep them in view when you act against him. Otherwise, that action can have the opposite effect.
The polls show that lots of people in the camp that supported him in the past no longer support him today.
Among his base, Netanyahu has not declined because of his opponents but because of his screw-ups. It happened on its own. People from his electorate understand things on their own, think for themselves, and they came to that conclusion on their own. But precisely because the other side continues to oppose him, that creates anger among his former supporters. They feel that when people attack him, they are attacking them as well, and they ignore them.
After the Netanyahu era, it’ll be a different ballgame, more or less. We have to hope that we will be wise enough to identify opportunities to create a different politics. In the face of the existential threat since October 7, a different politics is not just an option, it is what has to happen.