A news item posted on Facebook from an Israeli TV station is keeping me awake this Christmas night. I have just shared a posting from the activist Jeff Halper about the Christian town of Bethlehem. I thought that his appeal for the international community to interfere to stop the madness of Israel’s occupation is strengthened by the addition of my formally Moslem voice to his formally Jewish one. I have a Hindu friend who will be happy to add his as well. Perhaps this will snowball into something meaningful.
But my feeble attempt is rendered totally insignificant by the news item causing my insomnia. The report is about real madness; vicious, murderous and ultimately state-sponsored collective insanity. And it has echoes of madness that no one denies in retrospect. And yet the Channel 10 TV reported psychosis at a settlers’ wedding party in the OPTs is, at the end, tolerated, financed and even sponsored by the very same world forces that have made pogroms an evil thing of the past and the blood libel that underlay it such an evil accusation that even thinking of it makes me shudder in shame. I will be labeled anti-Semitic and a terrorist for bringing the subject up in the new context of the crimes of the settlers and the occupation.
Yes, the thought is incoherent even to me. So let me see if I can ferret its basic elements for myself and perhaps for the reader: First here is the blood libel that watching the TV report brought to mind: European Christians in those dark times and savage locales accused the Jews in their Shtetles of abducting and murdering Christian children to use their blood in preparing the Matzoth for their holiday celebrations. Somehow the murders were believed to gladden the evil Jews in their vile celebrations. It was taken for granted that ‘their religion requires it.’ So far all of that is in the past and we all have recovered from the madness of such invented evil rumors.
Fast forward to the present with a new set of beliefs, started, fueled and maintained in the very same Western culture with daily reminders in the form of news reports: Moslems in general, Arabs among them in particular and especially Palestinian Arab Moslems, cannot go about their daily lives without murderous terror acts against the civilized world. The context in which they commit their terror is that of their daily lives but particularly to celebrate special occasions and prepare their children and youth for ascension to heaven as Shaheeds. After all, ‘their religion requires it.’ And whom can such aggressors commit their violence against but the truest representatives of Western culture in the region, Israel! Two birds with the same stone: practicing modern anti-Semitism while making up for the West’s past anti-Semitism. How else can the West pay up for its Holocaust crime against the Jews? German material compensations are not enough. It needs to pay up with sociocultural and political favors as well.
But the picture is still incomplete and incoherent. How does the video at the base of my muddled thoughts fit with all of this? Yes, that is it; it doesn’t. That is the problem. I want to say something that is so disturbing to Western ears that I have to find someone else to say it for me. The late prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz said it by coining the term Zio-Nazism but he was too civilized to use the expletives that come to mind. Thank God for Google! Yes, my friend Gideon Levy has said it for me. Here it is:
Religious ultranationalism, which hides behind the worn-out name “religious Zionism,” … [w]ith negligible contributions to society, the economy, culture, science, literature and art; with a common denominator based mostly on messianic, religious, racist beliefs and a hatred of the other, especially the Arab; with a fictitious love of the land, isolation from the world and a folkloric religion, all wrapped in gooey kitsch; without practical vision; with a hollow spiritual leadership that bases its power on incitement to hatred and approval of bloodshed; at the focal points of violence and breeding grounds of corruption, and with insufferable arrogance this movement has exploited the vacuum, the horrible apathy that has spread in secular society, and climbed its way up to the high reaches of power.
Yes, Gideon says what I am thinking. He is sounding out the right alarm. The extremists are taking over the country. But I am still unsatisfied with the sign-off; I still search for the exact closing note that keeps ringing in my ear from within.
I keep searching and find this:
Judaism Israel-style has taken on the trappings of the Nazis Blut und Boden (“Blood and Soil”). But not just blood as the Nazis conceived it, that is, a form of ethnic purity and bloodlines, but actual blood. … What does this video show if not Jews seething for blood? The blood of Palestinians? What will we expect to see next? Snuff videos of Eshbal and his fellow terrorists actually stabbing Palestinian babies to death? Perhaps drinking their blood? Where does it end?
Yes, in that last line Richard Silverstein said what was on my mind. Thanks, Richard, for the clarity. Yes, they will drink blood. We have seen it all before. We saw the same religious fanatics eat the liver of their enemies. Yes, ISIS and these guys are one and the same and ‘their religion requires it.’ And, yes, the West started it all way back with the anti-Semitic pogroms. Even now it funds and arms both.
Yes I am damn upset!