Israel/Palestine Jonathan Ofir on September 11, 2017
Mussolini, Italy's fascist leader, in 1934
Yesterday, Haaretz columnist Rogel Alpher published a piece titled “Israeli Minister Shaked Takes After Mussolini”. In it he opined that Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was literally, not just metaphorically, a fascist. Alpher was referring to that speech where Shaked said: “Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.”
The minister’s announcement of a “moral and political revolution” aimed at strengthening national principles at the expense of universal individual rights was comparable to Mussolini’s “doctrine of fascism,” the columnist said. He cited Mussolini’s “revolutionary negation” of individualism and liberalism, wherein the nation “was a superior, super-personal reality … a moral law, a tradition, a mission binding together generations past, present and future, and all the individuals”(quoting from Jacob Talmon’s “The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution”).
Alpher’s column came after Gideon Levy’s column, which was also based on the speech Shaked gave, on that same critical sentence about Zionism and individual rights. But Levy actually thanked Shaked for “telling the truth” and for “speaking honestly.” And that truth was, as Levy put it: “Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps racist movement.”
But now we need to step back a bit, and combine these two angles into a kind of intellectual 3D picture:
If Alpher is calling Shaked an actual fascist, based upon what she said, and if Levy is concluding that those words are a true and honest representation of Zionism itself, then the combined logic must be, that Zionism is itself a form of fascism.
That actually makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t have to mean Zionism is a carbon copy of Italian fascism, just like the crime of Apartheid doesn’t require identical features to Apartheid South Africa (and as I have recently opined, Zionism is Apartheid, and worse). Racist, ultra-nationalist endeavors tend to flock together in alliance, just like the Mussolini-Hitler alliance, or more recently the Netanyahu-Orban alliance (wherein Netanyahu threw Jewish philanthropist George Soros under the anti-Semitic Hungarian bus). There has of course also been the actual alliance between the Zionist Revisionists of Zeev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky and the Italian Fascists. Jabotnisky’s ideology, which informed the Jewish terrorist Irgun and Stern Gang factions in Palestine, was the informer of Menachem Begin’s Herut, which morphed into Likud.
When Jabotinsky’s fighters were training in the 1930’s, a leading Italian naval publication stated:
“In agreement of all the relevant authorities it has been confirmed that the views and the political and social inclinations of the Revisionists are known and that they are absolutely in accordance with the fascist doctrine. Therefore, as our students they will bring the Italian and fascist culture to Palestine.” (Noted in Eric Kaplan, The Jewish Radical Right: Revisionist Zionism and Its Ideological Legacy, 2005, see p. 149-171).
Alright, alright, some will say – that’s the right-wing Zionism, but what about the left wing?
Well, I believe that Ben-Gurion’s famous words from 1938, where he said that
”If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel”
are an epitome of that essentially fascist ‘revolutionary negation of individualism and liberalism, wherein the nation was a superior, super-personal reality, a moral law’. It is that will to sacrifice individuals – aye, even children – for the supposed ‘greater national good’. Note that Ben-Gurion was not speaking about soldiers fighting in a war. He was speaking about children, who weren’t even citizens of any “Jewish state” and never signed up for it. Under this all-encompassing Jewish ‘national’ notion, every Jew is considered a part. This comes full circle with Netanyahu speaking on the supposed behalf of Jews all over the world, saying to them “Israel is your home” in the wake of terror attacks on Jewish targets.
All Zionists understand this, even if it is at an instinctive level. The will to sacrifice Palestinian rights (as well as other rights) for the ‘national Jewish home’ is a core tenet of Zionism. There are no real moral qualms in Zionism about ethnic cleansing of Palestinians; any such qualms are quelled by the claim that it’s ‘complicated’. When a Zionist like the self-proclaimed ‘leftist’ Israeli historian Benny Morris finally concedes the fairness of the term ‘ethnic cleansing’, it comes with the supposedly-exonerating caveat–
“There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing.”
Morris echoes Ben-Gurion’s words: “I support compulsory transfer. I don’t see anything immoral in it” (as quoted in Morris’s own book Righteous Victims). Yet Morris opines that Ben-Gurion should have gone further in his ‘transfer’: “If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job.”
So these are the more ‘honest’ voices of Zionism. The voices that forgot to keep the mask of political correctness. They come from both right and left, but the right seems more prone to drop the mask.
Incidentally, Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair recently posted a virulently anti-Semitic meme, where George Soros is depicted as a global manipulator, controlling a reptilian, a caricature ‘Illuminati’ Jew, and a train of other figures who are supposedly the ‘food chain’ feeding off the Netanyahu family, all (except the reptilian) holding their hands in the “happy merchant” fashion. The meme, congratulated by the Nazi Daily Stormer as “awesome,” caused quite some outrage in Israel, especially in the left. But Communication Minister Ayoub Kara, who is Netanyahu’s ‘Arab puppet’, asserted that Yair Netanyahu was “just a kid playing on Facebook.“
Yair Netanyahu’s meme is an example of how Zionism brings anti-Semitism full circle (as I wrote last year). And when it does that, many distance themselves, temporarily, because it looks bad.
But what if it’s not temporary? What if Zionism is, indeed the embodiment of fascist ultra-nationalism, and is racist at its very core? This would mean that it is also, inherently, anti-Semitic, because it would turn against Jews for being Jews – if they do not toe the ultra-nationalist line. These would be “the wrong kind of Jews”, as Zionist leader (and later Israeli President) Chaim Weizmann said to Lord Balfour. The same Chaim Weizmann who met with Mussolini four times between 1923 and 1934.
Understanding that Israel is enacting Apartheid is not a very complicated conclusion nowadays. To understand that this Apartheid is part and parcel of the basic Zionist ideology informing it can be a bit harder, but it’s a logical step to make. Again, Israel does not have to copy South African Apartheid for the crime of Apartheid to be enacted, as was cogently and meticulously documented in this year’s UN commissioned report on Israeli Apartheid by professors Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley.
Likewise, Israel doesn’t have to copy Italian Fascism precisely for Zionism to be regarded as a fascist ideology. Alpher’s appraisal of Shaked’s words are actually an appraisal of Zionism, with its revolutionary, ultra-nationalist notions. And Levy says that Shaked is actually telling the truth about Zionism.
So the plot thickens, the net tightens. And for those who follow the logic of this, the question is really reduced to: Do you want to support a fascist ideology?