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In yet another sign of fascism, Lieberman likens Mahmoud Darwish to . . . Hitler


Important news from the new Israel, whose former reputation as a democracy is giving way to that of an authoritarian bunker. Israeli army radio did a program on the late leading poet of Palestine, Mahmoud Darwish, earlier this week, and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the broadcast should not have happened. He likened Darwish to Hitler, and his writing to Mein Kampf.

The New York Times headlines the story: “Israeli Defense Minister Compares Beloved Palestinian Poet to Hitler.” James Glanz leads:

Israel’s ultranationalist defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, managed to offend both Palestinians and free-speech advocates on Thursday, comparing the Palestinians’ national poet to Adolf Hitler and threatening the independence of Israel’s Army Radio station.

The JTA report in the Forward says Lieberman made the comparison in a meeting with the head of the army radio:

“By that logic, the complete legacy of the Mufti al-Husseini or the literary merits of ‘Mein Kampf’ could also have been included,” the defense chief said.

Al-Monitor’s report rightly focuses on on the repressive Israeli political environment:

Zionist Camp Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich . . . slammed Liberman’s reaction on Facebook, calling it “a step that can only be defined as characterizing fascist regimes.”

The rightwingers inside the Netanyahu coalition found it outrageous that Darwish would ever be on Army radio.

The Darwish storm broke following a Facebook post by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev. Regev wrote that she was shocked that Army Radio had featured the work of the Palestinian national poet. “The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] radio station has gone off the rails,” she said, and quoted a section of “Identity Card,” which was featured on the program. In his famous poem, written in 1964, Darwish wrote, “I do not hate people. I steal from no one. However, if I am hungry I will eat the flesh of my usurper. Beware, beware of my hunger and of my anger . . .”

The outrage over Darwish’s poem joins the ongoing perversion of anything rejected by the worldview of the right-wing regime in Israel, including educational and cultural issues and basic historical concepts.

There are many examples of this erosion, from the rewriting of the civics textbook for Israeli pupils by Naftali Bennett’s Education Ministry, to Regev’s brutal assaults on cultural and artistic institutions and her demand that these establishments declare their loyalty to Israel or face budgetary cutbacks and culminating in attacks by right-wing ministers on Israeli media outlets and their “encouragement” to adopt the Israeli narrative and work to strengthen Israel’s Jewish heritage.

That’s the context. But the New York Times doesn’t delve into these fascistic trends; although it does report Netanyahu’s greatest incitement, saying that Hitler got the idea for the Final Solution from a Palestinian leader, and does note that the Israeli attorney general phoned Lieberman “to remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio’s programming,” according to Haaretz.

The backstory here is a battle over tolerance inside the Israeli establishment. Lieberman’s predecessor Moshe Ya’alon quit the Defense Ministry job, saying fascism was on the rise in Israel. He did so after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked him to walk back the comments by the deputy chief of staff of the army that Israeli political culture is getting to be reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The deputy chief of staff made those comments in the wake of an Israeli cabinet meeting in which Israeli leaders including Netanyahu embraced a medic who had murdered an incapacitated Palestinian on the street inside the occupation — an action supported by Israeli Jews in polls. Israeli army radio is clearly taking a role in that battle over Israel’s future, by highlighting a great Palestinian’s work in a gesture of tolerance; but the Times doesn’t want to cover this crisis.

As author Lillian Rosengarten observes, an ideology of Zionism is fostering fascism, “and the silence is deafening.”

The incoming Jerusalem bureau chief for the Times, Peter Baker, tripped up in tweeting his colleague Glanz’s story.

That led one of us to challenge Baker.  Where’s the “debate?” North asked.

Baker amended his statement. Good for him.

P.S. This controversy highlights another issue for the incoming bureau chief. James Glanz quotes Yossi Klein Halevi as some kind of dispassionate observer of the Israeli scene, slamming Darwish as intolerant and merely faulting Lieberman for being out of step with the latest lingo. “Indulging in Holocaust rhetoric belongs to an earlier era of Israeli political discourse and reveals an anachronistic way of thinking that’s out of step with contemporary Israeli discourse.” Quoting Halevi as a balanced guru is a Times tradition. Peter Baker’s predecessor, Jodi Rudoren, extolled Halevi as the guide to the psyche of Israel, recommending his book on the heroes of the Six Day War to readers at NY’s Jewish Community Center and to her in-laws. Halevi should not be a touchstone for liberals. He is an ardent Zionist and an occupier; he lives in a settlement in East Jerusalem; he describes Hamas as an “existential threat” to Jewish Israel; he justified Israel’s massacres in Gaza; and he has called for French Jews to come “home” to Israel.


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15 Responses

  1. Talkback
    Talkback on July 22, 2016, 11:31 pm

    Lieberman of all people. Just another Zionist whose plank in his eye got to his brain.

  2. Marnie
    Marnie on July 23, 2016, 1:04 am

    The GoI has every spectrum of psychiatric disease among its ranks. This brown-shirt eastern european thug, with his boss and underlings, needs to be behind bars. .

  3. WH
    WH on July 23, 2016, 5:05 am

    Lieberman’s crass fascist response is hardly surprising, but what baffles me is how Darwish made it onto IDF radio in the first place.

    • jon s
      jon s on July 25, 2016, 7:29 am

      The discussion of Mahmoud Darwish was part of a series devoted to “formative texts” of Israeli society.
      It may seem ironic, but IDF radio has usually been considered relatively liberal, which is why ministers Lieberman and Regev have taken aim at it.

      This is the famous poem , which was at the center of the discussion:

      ID Card
      Mahmoud Darwish

      Write it down! I’m an Arab
      My card number is 50000
      My children number eight
      And after this summer, a ninth on his way.
      Does this make you rage?
      I am an Arab.
      With my quarry comrades I labor hard
      My children number eight
      I tug their bread, their clothes
      And their notebooks
      From within the rock
      I don’t beg at your door
      I don’t cower on your threshold
      So does this make you rage?
      Write it down!
      I am an Arab.
      I am a name with no honorific.
      Patient in a land
      Where everything lives in bursting rage
      My roots were planted before time was born
      Before history began
      Before the cypress and the olive trees
      Before grass sprouted
      My father is from the plough clan
      Not from the noble class
      My grandfather was a peasant farmer
      Had no pedigree
      Taught me the pride of the sun
      Before teaching me to read
      A shack to guard groves is my home,
      Made of branches and reeds
      Are you pleased with my status?
      I am a name with no honorific.
      Write it down!
      I am an Arab.
      Hair color: charcoal
      Eye color:  brown
      A cord around the quffiyeh on my head
      My hand as hard as rock
      That scratches if you touch it
      My address:
      I am from a forgotten abandoned village
      Its streets nameless
      All its men in the fields and quarries
      Does this make you rage?
      Write it down!
      I am an Arab.
      You have stolen my ancestors’ groves
      And the land we cultivated
      I and all my children
      Leaving nothing for us and all my grandchildren
      Except these rocks
      Will your government take them
      Like people say?
      Write down on the top of the first page:
      I do not hate people
      And I do not steal from anyone
      But if I starve
      I will eat my oppressor’s flesh
      Beware, beware of my starving
      And my rage.

      1964. Translated from Arabic by Salman Masalha and Vivian Eden

      • Mooser
        Mooser on July 25, 2016, 12:30 pm

        Gee, “Jon s”, when you reproduce that poem, it nearly makes up for the Nakba.

        Why do you think your utter hypocrisy is not evident?

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus on July 25, 2016, 12:32 pm

        Who gives a rodent’s behind if John S likes Lieberman or Yahoo etc., or not? As long as his a$$ continues to be illegally on Palestinian land. Drawing a salary for expressly indoctrinating impressionable kids with genocidal, racial supremacist pirate ideology.

      • gamal
        gamal on July 25, 2016, 12:35 pm

        “Darwish told Dalia Karpel in Haaretz in 2007: “I have no home. I have moved and changed homes so often that I have no home in the deep sense of the word. Home is where I sleep and read and write, and that can be anywhere. I have lived in more than 20 homes already, and I always left behind medicines and books and clothes. I flee.”

        more to the point

        From “Dear Darwish,” Blaze VOX, 2014.

        Morani Kornberg-Weiss
        From the sequence “Nakba Museum”

        If we are given access beyond the walls
        have we entered a museum.
        If we live in settlements
        are we residing in a museum.
        If we live in refugee camps
        are we part of a museum.
        If we drive on those roads
        do we easily access a museum.
        If we cross checkpoints and barriers
        have we made our way to a museum.
        If we are granted permits
        can we enter a museum.
        If there are no curfews
can we leave a museum.
        If the Nakba is still in progress
        can we visit a museum.

  4. RoHa
    RoHa on July 23, 2016, 6:02 am

    1. All anti-Semites are like Hitler.
    2. All nonJews (and some Jews) are anti-Semites.
    3 (IC) All nonJews are like Hitler.
    4. Darwish is a nonJew.
    5. Darwish is like Hitler.

    I think that is a valid argument, and I call on MHughes to test and affirm the validity.

    • DaBakr
      DaBakr on July 23, 2016, 11:26 pm


      So invalid its pathetic.

      1. R.Wagner was nothing like Adoph Hitler
      2. Google Ryan Bellerose or Chloe Valdary. (it matters not what you think of them, they are still non-jews)

      4. is the only statement thats valid- facetiousness aside.

      try harder. we know where your headed. you could surely do better proving that zionist and/or israeli jews are paranoid, , melodramatic victim vampires and suspect everybody of being anti-semetic

      • RoHa
        RoHa on July 24, 2016, 9:36 am

        The argument takes the form

        All A are B
        All C are A
        Therefore all C are B
        All D are C
        Therefore all D are B

        How is that not valid?

        Of course, I am not claiming that it is sound.
        I am making fun of the way Zionists say that we are all anti-Semites, but you have to know a bit about logic to see that.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976 on July 24, 2016, 12:05 pm

        Of course it’s a valid argument. Logic depends on separating the question of the validity of the argument, whether one point follows from another, from the question of the truth of the points made. That is why logic, like algebra, is often symbolic, discusses statements like ‘all As are B’ without saying what descriptive terms ‘A’ and ‘B’ stand for. It’s important to test statements about the world that may be false by seeing what further statements they validly imply. That is often how error in understanding the world is detected. This point, very simple in itself, is famously used as an element in the rather grand (and questionable, but extremely influential) theories of science and history developed by Sir Karl Popper.
        My idea of Lieberman’s argument would be:
        1. Everyone who is on the same moral plane should be treated alike when it comes to their literary products
        2. If that moral plane is very bad, the treatment should be based entirely on ignoring or disparaging
        3. Hitler and Darwish (and Wagner, quite likely) were on the same moral plane
        4. It was a bad moral plane, being anti-Semitic
        3. They should be treated alike: ignored or disparaged.
        This is a valid argument, though all premises are questionable.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on July 24, 2016, 1:53 pm

        “zionist and/or israeli jews are paranoid, , melodramatic victim vampires and suspect everybody of being anti-semetic”

        Gee, I can’t think of anybody posting here who answers that description.

      • annie
        annie on July 24, 2016, 2:19 pm

        lol — me neither mooser!

      • RoHa
        RoHa on July 25, 2016, 1:20 am

        Yours looks valid to me, MHughes.

        Might not be sound, though. Whiff of dodginess coming from one or two of the premises.

  5. Mooser
    Mooser on July 24, 2016, 3:01 pm

    “lol — me neither mooser!”

    And it sure is nice. I thought Mondo would be plagued with them.

    Probably the more reasonable Zionists keep those hysterical types (I mean, hey, there’s gonna be a few, people are people) under wraps, so as not to impede progress towards a solution. That’s the power of tribal unity.

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