The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, needed three days to react to the Charlottesville murder – more than Trump needed. His response was tepid. His son’s, however, was anything but. Yair Netanyahu, writing under his mother’s maiden name, is often referred to as the crown prince – and he thinks Black Lives Matter are a more serious danger than bleeding Nazis, marching under the Swastika and practicing their sturmabteilung moves.
נחשו מי הצטרף להשוואות pic.twitter.com/Vit0hDnHv1
— אוֹרי קוֹל חוקר בקבוצת Deep Knowledge Group (@orikol) August 16, 2017
It would be tempting, but wrong, to write Netanyahu junior off as a too-pampered, bloviating douchebag. He certainly is. However, he is anything but alone in his support of neo-Nazis and Trump. This vibe has been coming from all of the hard-core right wing recently. Nor is it new. If you look at Mida, an Israeli site claiming to be the “intellectual right” website, you’ll find it had a long love affair with the European hard right. This devolved into a farce when Mida’s special correspondent on European ultra-nationalists, Wilhelm Rott, who did everything possible to legitimize some pretty awful parties and claimed to be an Austrian aristocrat, turned out to be an Israeli, Moshe Tal-Heurti.
Farce aside, Mida – Israel’s equivalent of Breitbert and Milo Yiannopoulos – is no joke. Its first editor, Ran Baratz, later became a senior Netanuyahu aide, despite being singled out by Vice President Biden for claiming President Obama was an anti-semite. Like Baratz, Netanyahu junior is an important aide to his father, and can often be seen as his father’s mouthpiece, telling Netanyahu’s base what the prime minister himself is unwilling to say.
Netanyahu himself recently met with Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, despite the latter’s anti-semitic campaign against George Soros. The Israeli ambassador to Hungary sharply criticized the campaign – and then was silenced by the Foreign Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
So, again, how come the right wing of the “Never forget” country became a supporter of the extreme right?
There are several reasons. To start with, Israelis mostly don’t accept the humanistic moral of the Holocaust: when people say “Never again” and mean “Never again should a human being suffer this way”, most Israelis would say “Never again should a Jew suffer anything like this.”
Secondly, Zionism was a bit late to the power game: just as Israel was created, the bastard changed the rules and aggressive warfare and rule by right of conquest became a thing of the past. Many Israelis find this infuriating: how can those Europeans preach to us about human rights given their all too recent past? How can the US sermonize about civil rights, given the way it treated its native nations? Or, in short, why the hell did the party end just as we joined it? Which is why a common Israeli refrain is “If the US cares so much about the Palestinians, why won’t it give the Indians [most Israelis won’t use “Native Americans” or “first nations”] their land back?”
And, behind it all, lie the two Nakbas: the one that was and the one that is yet to be.
Israel was created in an explosion of ethnic cleansing. Historians can argue to what degree it was planned; as I see it, no plan was needed, no order required. When Ben-Gurion was asked by his officers what is to be done with the conquered population, he threw his arm widely. No word was spoken; none was needed. The unspoken order was clear. In fact, it was already implemented, at the brigade level, before this meeting.
And then came the great silence. The Biluim have a soul-piercing song about it:
“Sleep, my child, sleep;
Questions are dangerous.
They were away from the town,
It’s a bit complicated to explain,
Hold on to that:
We tried very hard,
We removed all the ruins,
Changed the names of the streets,
We tried very hard,
We silenced the rumors.”
Palestine was wiped off the map. Towns and villages disappeared. Their very names vanished. Palestinians who tried to return home were mowed down. But none of this was to be spoken of.
Palestine disappeared, but the Palestinians had the chutzpah not to.
They remain and they remind Israelis that their homeland is built on a graveyard. And as the Palestinians refused to disappear, there are three options to end the unceasing crisis. One is that old zombie, the two state solution. Impossible to implement. Two many settlers, not enough troops to remove them – even assuming the IDF won’t mutiny. The Disengagement required 50,000 soldiers to remove 8,000 settlers. There are 400,000 settlers in the West Bank. Do the math.
The second option is the one state solution. This will likely require a huge lake of blood. Israelis won’t give up their privileges without a deadly fight.
Which leads to the third option: the Second Nakba. Finishing the work of 1948.
This idea is quite common among the hard right. The polemicist Avishai Ivri coined the phrase “Nakba Now” a few years ago. The right wing has no other plans for solving the Palestinian crisis. It’s clear the Palestinians will not settle for anything less than either statehood or equal rights. Many right-wingers speak about giving Palestinians residency rights – I.e., keeping the military dictatorship in place and allowing Palestinians the right to vote in municipal elections. Most of them realize this is a pipe dream. So they’re left with “Nakba Now.”
And when that is your muttered policy, the one you rarely dare to speak about loudly, when you realize you may have to carry out another ethnic cleansing, it’s silly to moan about Nazis somewhere else. After all, you’re holding a very similar policy, and they’re likely to be your only allies.
Neither is this position unprecedented. In recent years, reverence for the leader of the leader of the LEHI underground movement (commonly refereed to in English as the Stern Gang), Avraham Stern, has been growing. LEHI is notorious for attempting an alliance with the Nazis in the early 1940s. The German ambassador in Turkey, the old fool von Pappen, was very enthusiastic; Himmler and Hitler did not deign to answer. But the call for alliance was based upon what the LEHI saw as equivalent ideas of two sister fascist movements. Given that a main theme of the current Nazi movement is Islamophobia – the idea of the collapse of the West due to an invasion from the east changing, mutatis mutandis, from Mongol hordes to Islamic ones – who says that this time, we won’t see such an alliance?
Both sides will legitimize the other. Israel will give the Nazis the political respectability they crave and a kosher stamp saying they’re not Nazis, just nationalists; and Israel’s occupation and envisioned ethnic cleansing will gain legitimacy by the new elites.
And if this isn’t the station where world Jewry goes off the Zionist train, I don’t what is.