The other night at dinner in Manhattan, a realist friend said to me, “Things are changing. When I tell people we’ve handed over our foreign policy to a fascist foreign country, they don’t look at me like a lunatic, they consider the idea and even agree somewhat.”
The next day in Brooklyn, I asked an anti-Zionist friend whether it is possible to rebrand Israel as a fascist country. He considered the idea and nodded.
“Right now in New York you get overwhelming majorities of people in polls saying that they disapprove of the stop-and-frisk tactics [which target minority youth]. A lot of what goes on in the Occupied Territories is worse than that police conduct. So I think, potentially, Yes.”
I told him that the day before my mother sent me this MoveOn.org petition to sign, to “block the racist Florida voter purge.”
This year, Florida Governor Rick Scott has challenged more than 180,000 voters–more than half of whom are Latino–by accusing them of not being citizens. … Attorney General Eric Holder… has the authority to sue the state and block the purge program because of how it harms Latino voters.
By the same standard, I could argue that Israel is enacting racist and apartheid policies not just in Palestine but all over Israel.
On the train home from the city, I met an old friend, a hardboiled capitalist, and asked him about rebranding Israel as fascist.
He said, “Well I do wonder about the disappearance of the Israeli left from the political sphere. If you vote in Israel now, there’s just one party. They’ve solidified. You don’t have a choice. And wasn’t that the criticism we always had of dictatorships? There was no choice. So in my view, Israel is just another middle eastern authoritarian state.”
When I got home, I asked my old friend and political guru James North the question. He said, “The answer is yes, and you should reread the post I did on this subject two years ago.”
I did. It was a review of Robert O. Paxton’s book, The Anatomy of Fascism. North wrote:
Toward the end of the book, Paxton looks at the possibility of fascism in “Other Times, Other Places” outside its peak in Europe between the two World Wars. Among several examples, he says that “. . . one must address the potential – supreme irony – for fascism in Israel.”
“The suicide bombings of the second intifada after 2001 radicalized even many Israeli democrats to the right. By 2002, it was possibly to hear language within the right wing of the Likud Party and some of the small religious parties that comes close to a functional equivalent to fascism. The chosen people begins to sound like a Master Race that claims a unique ‘mission in the world,’ demands its ‘vital space,’ demonizes an enemy that obstructs the realization of the people’s destiny, and accepts the necessity of force to obtain these ends.”
The Western mainstream devotes a great deal of time and energy to every Islamic extremist statement, and the word “Islamofascism” has even been used by an American president. But their Israeli extremist equivalents, who have only gotten louder and more powerful since Paxton’s book appeared, hardly ever appear in U.S. news reports. The unstated assumption is that the “Israelo-fascists” like Avigdor Lieberman are only crazy uncles hidden up in the attic, not worth paying attention to.
That was two years ago. The picture hasn’t gotten any prettier since.