Archive for the ‘Israeli Right Wing Nuts’ Category


Israel is in the midst of a culture war

The right has been in power for a long time now, and now, in its 35th year in government, in the 64th year of the state, it has turned to the task of reshaping the country’s character and faces almost no opposition.

By Gideon LevyTags: KnessetIsraeli ArabsHaredimJerusalem

Anyone who says this is a matter of a few inconsequential laws is leading others astray; anyone who claims a reversible procedure is being deceptive; anyone who states reassuringly that this is a passing phase is trying to put one over. Even the person who thinks it’s just an attempt at regime change is under a delusion. What we are witnessing is w-a-r.

This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state. Our way of life is about to change, from cradle to grave. For this reason, it could be the most pivotal battle in the country’s history since the War of Independence.

We always knew that a few years without an external threat could strain the delicate seams: When the guns go silent, the demons roar. But no one predicted such an outburst of demons of every kind, all at once. The assault on the existing order is an all-out war, on every front; a political tsunami, a cultural flood and a social and religious earthquake, all still in their infancy. Those who call this an exaggeration are trying to lull you to sleep. The defeats and the victories up to now will determine the course of events: In the end, we will have a different country. The pretension of being an enlightened Western democracy is giving way, with terrifying speed, to a different reality – that of a benighted, racist, religious, ultranationalist, fundamentalist Middle Eastern country. That is not the kind of integration into the region we had hoped for.

The ferocious combined assault is highly effective. It targets women, Arabs, leftists, foreigners, the press, the judicial system, human rights organizations and anyone standing in the way of the cultural revolution. From the music we listen to, to the television we watch, from the buses we ride to the funerals we attend , everything is about to change. The army is changing, the courts are in turmoil, the status of women is being pelted with rocks, the Arabs are being shoved behind a fence and the labor migrants are being forced into concentration camps. Israel is barricading itself behind more and more walls and barbed-wire fences as if to say, to hell with the world.

There is no single guiding hand mixing this boiling, poisonous potion; many hands stir the revolution, but they all have something in common: the aspiration to a different Israel, one that is not Western, not open, not free and not secular. The extreme nationalist hand passes the antidemocratic, neofascist laws; the Haredi hand undermines gender equality and personal freedoms; the racist hand acts against the non-Jews; the settler hand intensifies the hold not only on the occupied territories but also deep into Israel; and another hand interferes in education, culture and the arts.

You can’t see the forest for the trees, and the forest is dark and deep. Take, for example, Friday’s paper. The news pages of Haaretz reported on a few such rotten trees: the managers of dozens of businesses in Sderot have begun requiring their workers to dress modestly; in Mea She’arim, the polling places are gender-segregated; nonobservant Jews in Jerusalem have been asked to wear a kippa at work; Carmiel’s Palmach School has been turned into a religious school; discrimination against Sephardic girls at schools in Jerusalem, Modi’in Ilit, Betar Ilit and Bnei Brak; withdrawal from a physicians’ training program for Palestinians as a condition for tax relief; the government’s new plan to fight illegal immigration. And one final touch: The foreign minister gave his imprimatur to the Putinist election in Russia. All in a single day, one ordinary day.

In 1948 the state was established, and in 2011 a war is being waged for its never-crystallized character. In between these two years, the state has been rocked by waves of immigration, by different governments and by contradictory trends, and throughout loomed the threat of war and other external dangers. Various islands formed, some of them beautiful, and sometimes it seemed as if an open, enlightened country was taking root. Now that belief is on the verge of being shattered. The right has been in power for a long time now, but it lacked the self-confidence to launch this crucial assault. But now, in its 35th year in government, in the 64th year of the state, it has turned to the task of reshaping the country’s character and faces almost no opposition.

We’ll meet again in a few years, in that other Israel, that will be different and distorted beyond recognition.


Strange bedfellows: new nexus between Israel and far Right

My fol­low­ing essay ap­pears in today’s Crikey:

Amid the acres of com­men­tary on the ex­change of IDF sol­dier Gilad Shalit and more than a thou­sand Pales­tin­ian pris­on­ers, one com­ment stands out: “Let the WORLD know about Is­rael’s hu­man­ity and the ter­ror­ists’ in­hu­man­ity — SHARE this one with EVERY­ONE you know, friends!” What makes it note­wor­thy is that it fea­tured on the “Geert Wilders In­ter­na­tional Free­dom Al­li­nace” Face­book page, where sup­port­ers of the far-Right Dutch politi­cian gather, one of many mes­sages of fa­nat­i­cal pro-Is­raeli com­men­tary.

The grow­ing ap­peal of Is­rael to the world’s right-wing com­mu­nity has been de­vel­op­ing for some years. Nev­er­the­less, some ex­am­ples are eye-pop­ping. In July 2011, a Russ­ian neo-Nazi del­e­ga­tion trav­elled to Is­rael, after an in­vi­ta­tion by far Right Is­raeli politi­cians and an ed­i­tor of a pro-set­tler news ser­vice. The Holo­caust de­niers vis­ited Is­rael’s Holo­caust cen­tre, Yad Vashem, de­spite being pho­tographed pre­vi­ously giv­ing Nazi salutes and pub­lish­ing songs cel­e­brat­ing Adolf Hitler on their web­site.

The pair was in­ter­viewed on Is­raeli TV. One said that the idea of the Jew­ish state “ex­cites me” be­cause it in­volves “an an­cient peo­ple who took upon it­self a pi­o­neer pro­ject to re­vive a mod­ern state and na­tion”. The TV jour­nal­ist then asked how a neo-Nazi could now em­brace Zion­ism. The other Russ­ian quickly re­sponded by ex­plain­ing the com­mon enemy they both faced: “We’re talk­ing about rad­i­cal Islam which is the enemy of hu­man­ity, enemy of democ­racy, enemy of progress and of any sane so­ci­ety.” In De­cem­ber 2010 a much larger del­e­ga­tion of Eu­ro­pean far Right politi­cians, in­clud­ing a Bel­gian politi­cian with clear ties to SS vet­er­ans and a Swedish politi­cian with con­nec­tions to the coun­try’s fas­cist past, also paid their re­spects at Yad Vashem. They were wel­comed by some mem­bers of the Is­raeli Knes­set and agreed to sign a “Jerusalem De­c­la­ra­tion”, guar­an­tee­ing Is­rael’s right to de­fend it­self against ter­ror. “We stand at the van­guard in the fight for the West­ern, de­mo­c­ra­tic com­mu­nity” against the “to­tal­i­tar­ian threat” of “fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam”, read the doc­u­ment.

The sig­na­to­ries were some of Eu­rope’s most suc­cess­ful anti-im­mi­gra­tion politi­cians who long ago re­alised that back­ing Is­rael was a clever way to guar­an­tee re­spectabil­ity for a cause that risked being framed as ex­trem­ist or racist. One Is­raeli politi­cian who met the del­e­ga­tion, Nis­sim Zeev, a mem­ber of ul­tra-Or­tho­dox, right-wing party Shas, em­braced the group: “At the end of the day, what’s im­por­tant is their at­ti­tude, the fact they re­ally love Is­rael.”

Yes­ter­day’s anti-Semi­tes have re­formed them­selves as today’s cru­sad­ing he­roes against an un­stop­pable Mus­lim birth-rate on a con­ti­nent that now sees Islam as an in­tol­er­ant and ghet­toised re­li­gion. These in­creas­ingly main­stream at­ti­tudes have mar­i­nated across Eu­rope for at least a decade — most starkly ex­pressed in the writ­ings of the Nor­way killer An­ders Breivik, who slaugh­tered nearly 70 young left-wingers on Utøya is­land in late July this year.

Breivik’s in­ter­est in Is­rael wasn’t an ac­ci­den­tal quirk of his Google search terms. It was re­flec­tive of years of in­doc­tri­na­tion from that fate­ful Sep­tem­ber day in 2001 on­wards. None of Breivik’s right-wing he­roes openly praised his killings — po­lit­i­cally speak­ing, half-hearted con­dem­na­tions were the order of the day — be­cause their vi­sion of open war with Islam was ar­guably even more clin­i­cal. They cheered as Amer­ica and Is­rael used the vast power of the state to at­tack, bomb, drone, kid­nap, tor­ture and mur­der lit­er­ally count­less Mus­lim vic­tims in the past decade in Pak­istan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pales­tine, So­ma­lia and be­yond.

Breivik’s ad­mired this Is­raeli “can-do” at­ti­tude but equally dis­missed left-wing Jews who sup­ported Pales­tin­ian rights. “Were the ma­jor­ity of the Ger­man and Eu­ro­pean Jews [in ’30s Eu­rope] dis­loyal?” he asked in his “2083” man­i­festo. He went on:

“Yes, at least the so-called lib­eral Jews, sim­i­lar to the lib­eral Jews today that op­poses na­tion­al­ism/Zion­ism and sup­ports mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism. Jews that sup­port mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism today are as much of a threat to Is­rael and Zion­ism (Is­raeli na­tion­al­ism) as they are to us. So let us fight to­gether with Is­rael, with our Zion­ist broth­ers against all anti-Zion­ists, against all cul­tural Marx­ists/mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ists. Con­ser­v­a­tive Jews were loyal to Eu­rope and should have been re­warded. In­stead, [Hitler] just tar­geted them all.” (p 1167)

Breivik mir­rored the fa­mil­iar sep­a­ra­tion of “good Jews” and “bad Jews” that ap­pear in West­ern di­a­logue over the Is­rael/Pales­tine con­flict. The na­tion­al­is­tic, Arab-hat­ing Jew who be­lieves in the never-end­ing oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tin­ian land is praise-wor­thy but the ques­tion­ing, anti-Zion­ist Jew is a threat that must be elim­i­nated. The com­men­ta­tors, jour­nal­ists and politi­cians who re­ceive main­stream ac­cep­tance and ap­pear reg­u­larly in our media such as Daniel Pipes, who calls for the bomb­ing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, are wel­comed into the club of pop­u­lar Is­lam­o­phobes be­cause they speak the lan­guage of dom­i­na­tion and vi­o­lence re­flected in our media and po­lit­i­cal dis­course on a daily basis.

My enemy’s enemy is my friend

Breivik’s con­vic­tion that he was a friend of Zion­ism cre­ated a moral chal­lenge for many of those he had quoted in his man­i­festo. It was not a chal­lenge many faced well. One of the more no­to­ri­ous, Amer­i­can blog­ger Pamela Geller, con­demned the killings as “hor­rific” but not so sub­tly in the same post re­minded read­ers that the young stu­dents who at­tended sum­mer camp at Utøya were ac­tu­ally wit­ness­ing an “anti-Se­mitic in­doc­tri­na­tion train­ing cen­tre”. How? Nor­way’s For­eign Min­is­ter Jonas Gahr Store had vis­ited the camp and called for an end to the Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion of Pales­tin­ian land, ap­par­ently mak­ing him an anti-Semite by de­f­i­n­i­tion. Reg­u­lar Jerusalem Post colum­nist Barry Rubin sim­ply called the youth camp, “a pro-ter­ror­ist pro­gram”.

Geller was fur­ther in­censed that he even called “Pales­tini­ans” Pales­tin­ian, be­cause for her and her fel­low trav­ellers the Pales­tini­ans aren’t a real peo­ple de­serv­ing rights or a home­land. “Utøya camp was not Is­lamist,” Geller as­sures us, “but it was some­thing not much more whole­some.” Thus Is­lam­o­pho­bia seam­lessly mor­phed into blind and racist Zion­ism.

In Aus­tralia like­wise, the Is­rael lobby skirted around this un­com­fort­able re­al­ity, both pub­licly re­pulsed by the mur­ders but they re­main on the record as ar­gu­ing for bound­aries on Mid­dle East de­bate. Oth­ers sim­ply de­nied that Breivik’s sym­pa­thises for right-wing Zion­ism was ir­rel­e­vant to un­der­stand­ing his crimes.

Of course this was ab­surd. Ex­ag­ger­at­ing a clash of civil­i­sa­tions has be­come the bread and but­ter of count­less key­board war­riors in the past decade, with ever-more bru­tal Is­rael placed at the fore­front of this strug­gle. De­mon­is­ing Mus­lims and call­ing for their death on a reg­u­lar basis has con­se­quences. Mus­lims re­plac­ing Jews as the sup­posed enemy aim­ing for world dom­i­na­tion will come with a price.

Is­raelophilia in the ser­vice of Is­lam­o­pho­bia

The mes­sage em­a­nat­ing from the Zion­ist crowd was at times con­flicted yet clear; Breivik could be for­given for think­ing that Is­rael was striv­ing for racial per­fec­tion. The Jerusalem Post pro­vided clar­i­fi­ca­tion after the at­tack in a star­tling ed­i­to­r­ial. It claimed mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism had failed in Eu­rope, Mus­lims were a threat to so­ci­etal har­mony and clearly im­plied that an eth­noc­racy, such as Is­rael, was the ideal global model:

“While there is ab­solutely no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the sort of heinous act per­pe­trated this week­end in Nor­way, dis­con­tent with mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism’s fail­ure must not be dele­git­i­ma­tised or mis­tak­enly por­trayed as an opin­ion held by only the most ex­trem­ist el­e­ments of the Right.”

The Post seemed to de­fend the mind­set, if not the ac­tions, ex­pressed by Breivik, as a com­mon and un­der­stand­able at­ti­tude of sim­ply want­ing to “pro­tect unique Eu­ro­pean cul­ture and val­ues”. These val­ues did not in­clude Islam or being proud of a racially di­verse land. (A week later, the paper is­sued an apol­ogy ed­i­to­r­ial after a mas­sive back­lash against its po­si­tion. Be­lat­edly, the ed­i­to­r­ial noted that “Jews, Mus­lims and Chris­tians in Is­rael and around the world should be stand­ing to­gether against such hate crimes”.)

An­ders Breivik’s real mo­ti­va­tions may never be fully un­der­stood but his love for Is­rael didn’t ap­pear out of the blue. It was be­cause Zion­ism and its clos­est fol­low­ers have cul­ti­vated an image of a coun­try that can only sur­vive with­out in­te­gra­tion, peace with its Arab neigh­bours or an end to the oc­cu­pa­tion. Racial dom­i­na­tion is the dream. Breivik took this call to a dev­as­tat­ing con­clu­sion and his man­i­festo makes clear that his sup­port for Is­rael is couched in the lan­guage of sur­vival against an un­for­giv­ing, in­tol­er­ant and high Mus­lim birth-rate world.

You can hear these views on any day of the week on Face­book, on Twit­ter — and in the Is­raeli Knes­set.

*This is an ex­tract from an essay in On Utøya: An­ders Breivik, right ter­ror, racism and Eu­rope, edited by Eliz­a­beth Humphrys, Guy Run­dle and Tad Ti­etze, an ebook to be pub­lished on Oc­to­ber 26. The book will be launched by Sen­a­tor Lee Rhi­an­non and Antony Loewen­stein , 6.30pm Wednes­day, Oc­to­ber 26 at the Nor­folk Hotel, Cleve­land Street in Surry Hills, Syd­ney.

via Strange bedfellows: new nexus between Israel and far Right — Antony Loewenstein.