Some may argue that the Nakba is an ongoing process, or rather, that it never really ended. Yet, bearing in mind the frightening political processes that are unfolding within Israel, one should wonder whether we are heading towards another catastrophe. So let us ask: how likely is is it for an ethnic cleansing of Palestinians to occur once again, similar to (or worse than) 1948?
Surprisingly, I find that the Israeli Left never seriously raises this as a possibility. The Left doesn’t seem to consider it, or even just casually wonder about it, as if Israel or Western societies acquired an immunity to this kind of mass violence. As if it’s a relic of the past. The Israeli Left can perfectly understand the dangerous political ‘processes’ that are bubbling from within, and it often admits that ‘the country is in shambles’. And, they are right. Don’t get me wrong: the Left’s worries about Israel’s future are genuine. But that’s as far as it will go. Perhaps by extrapolating one step further, the Left will understand the true gravity of the situation in Israel today.
Just try to imagine a worst case scenario, and you’ll quickly realize it is not that hard to do, and that this worst case scenario is actually not so unlikely. Not unlikely enough. Imagine a frustrated Palestinian, fed up with it all, planning some terrible attack against Israeli civilians. Perhaps it is a coordinated attack; perhaps an organization takes responsibility. What matters is this: It doesn’t take much. Just one, big, stupid mistake. And now, imagine the Israeli response to this attack. Be creative, I don’t necessarily mean the military: I mean people. Every year, on “Jerusalem Day”, an ever-growing angry mob goes down the streets of the Muslim Quarter spewing racist slogans anyway, don’t they? So what’s stopping them from setting it ablaze along the way?
One more, small, incremental step is all it would take.
At this point, a columnist would spend some time listing examples of the blind, thoughtless hate we got used to hearing on the street, in the comment sections, at work, and around the dinner table. The “good Arabs are dead Arabs” kinds of remarks; the “just nuke Gaza” kinds of comments; the ones that rejoiced when a bomb was accidentally dropped on 4 innocent children on the Gazan beach. But you’re all aware of this. My point is: that’s not the scary part. What’s really scary is a new brand of rationalized hate. A kind that slips under the radar. Real smart people – otherwise great people – explaining to you thoroughly and eloquently why last week’s peaceful protest against fascism was an act of terror; how the Right is being persecuted by the police; how Abbas is an antisemitic holocaust denier and how the Palestinian Authority is sponsoring terrorists in order to battle unemployment. Wait, what? When hatred is rationalized, the angry mob is justified.
I’m sure you’ve noticed this, and I imagine you’ve also gotten an eerie, strange feeling trying to argue against someone like that. A smart idiot. So, please, I beg you to bear with me when I take it one small step further, and imagine: were the Nazis idiots? Were they driven by a blind lust for blood? By pure evil hatred? Or were they following a carefully constructed, ‘rational’ ideology? So please, do make the comparison. Srebrenica doesn’t feel so exotic anymore, does it? It can happen. It has happened again and again in the most developed countries and there is nothing special about this one. I am scared that the Israeli Left – our (Palestinians) most important allies – is just waiting it out, just learning to get used to the giant elephant in the room, waiting for it to leave.
And where is the Left, anyway? Does it even exist? The ones I know – dear, dear friends and comrades – are certainly frustrated. They’re aware. But to they understand? Are they afraid yet? Maybe they should be. And please do not be confused – I am not talking about the so-called center-left here. I am not talking about Herzog or Lapid or Livni or Kachlon. I am certainly not talking about Roni Daniel’s whiny speech on Channel 2 News. I never had faith in them or their kind. I am talking about real, hard working leftists that I love and respect; the ones that dare to compare; the ones that are worried we are going down a bottomless fascist well; the ones that aren’t afraid to make the occasional comparison between 2016 Israel and 1938 Germany. But I don’t think they mean it when they compare.
“Yes”, they would say, wearing a worried frown. “The situation is so bad. Every year we say it can’t get any worse and here it is, getting worse”. “I think I might have to move to Berlin,” they say. And who can blame them? Bennet is educating their kids and Shaked is running their courts and Lieberman has his finger on the red button and Elkin is in charge of Jerusalem and Regev decides what is culture and Netanyahu is the minister of foreign affairs and communications and economics who’s also in charge of the Mossad and Shin Bet, running the whole damn country. They get that, and they are certainly worried about that, as they should. But they don’t get it, do they? They don’t get that it already happened; that, in a very real sense, we’re already living in a fascistic nightmare. They don’t get that a bloody catastrophe is possible – just a matter of time, actually – unless we do something meaningful, quickly.
I ask the Israeli Left: are you not afraid for yourselves? Have years of relative stability and comfort numbed you down? Put your imaginations to sleep? The kind of nightmare scenario I am talking about doesn’t come unexpectedly, but I believe we now have every reason to expect it. 2016 Israel is a scary place, despite its pleasant appearances. I want to ask of you, even if you don’t carry signs at demonstrations, to start internalizing what is at stake here. I don’t think you really mean it when you make the comparison with the Nazis or when you talk about worrisome ‘processes’. I think you’re just trying to prove a point. I think you’re worried about the slope but don’t realize we’re already slipping, fast. I ask you to think about where all of this racism and hate is leading and realize there’s a fair chance that this country will have its very own crystal nights and killing fields and mass graves.