A week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told Likud officials that “occupation is nonsense”. This is a continuation of a right-wing spinning of history that says that Israel is not an occupying power.
Then Netanyahu went further, to speak with clear fascist eliminationist undertones:
“Occupation is nonsense. Empires have conquered and replaced entire populations and no one is talking about it”.
This line was reported by the Israeli Yediot Aharonot, yet didn’t make too many headlines otherwise. One might have thought that Israel apologists would ignore this line as too overtly fascist, but here is the Israel apologia site United with Israel openly quoting it.
Middle East Monitor rightly observed that “[t]he comments appear to support the claim made repeatedly by Israel’s critics who insist that Israel’s policies in Palestine have more in common with the past when settler colonialism and empire building was the norm and racist attitudes towards native population was used to justify the denial of their basic human rights.”
MEMO also reminded us of another chilling statement by Netanyahu from 2-1/2 months ago, which echoed Hitler:
“The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end, peace is made with the strong.”
While those Hitleresque statements were made in the context of his September visit to Dimona and the nuclear center, the recent ones were made in the general context of relations with Arab countries:
“Power is key. Power changes everything in our policy with Arab countries,” he said. “Aligning [Arab] interests with Israel, based on Israel being a technological superpower must lead the way”.
This view of power politics is consistent with Israel’s intensifying campaign to create a strong alliance with Arab countries aligned with Saudi Arabia. Last week Netanyahu spoke openly about how the Saudi Prince should get a pass for the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in order that Saudi Arabia relations remain strong:
“What happened in the Istanbul consulate was horrendous and it should be duly dealt with. Yet at the same time I say it, it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable”.
Netanyahu is basically mainstreaming a fascistic rhetoric, the maintenance of a supposed ‘necessary evil’ against the supposed ultimate evil, Iran.
But it is important to note that this kind of fascist thinking is actually quite compatible with Zionism to begin with. And this pertains not only to Netanyahu, or Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, it comes also from the left when it is being honest about its intentions. Thus the self-declared ‘leftist’ Israeli historian Benny Morris, who says that “there are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing”, also celebrates the American genocide (which supposedly made America great):
“Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians.”
It is important to cite these supposed ‘liberals’ so to avoid being lured to think that this is just Netanyahu, that this is just the extreme Israeli right etc. Zionism did indeed grow from a colonialist anachronism, carrying it into our age at a time when colonialism was in global decline. But just because you oppose someone who is considered evil and racist doesn’t mean you aren’t such a person yourself.
One stark example of this is Winston Churchill, who somehow managed to write himself into history as a great liberal. “For my part, I consider that it will be found much better by all Parties to leave the past to history, especially as I propose to write that history”, he said. And he did so, when he told the Palestine Royal Commission in 1937:
“I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
These words very similar to those of Netanyahu and Morris. It is not considered very politically correct these days to utter such overtly racist, colonialist, fascist words. They tend to shock the liberals – and they should.
“I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types”,
Benny Morris said to Ari Shavit, just after saying that
“If [Ben-Gurion] was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job”.
(That interview in Haaretz, from 2004, is titled ‘Survival of the Fittest’).
But with the increasing rise of right-wing and fascist leaders in what is generally considered the West and beyond, these expressions seem to survive with little condemnation, and the fascists even rejoice in their rejection of ‘political correctness’, and in the belief that now one may be more honest about one’s racism and genocidal policies.
This explains very well the bromance between Netanyahu and ultra-nationalists such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (who has engaged in Jew-baiting and praise of Nazi collaborators), Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (who compared himself to Hitler), or the newly elected Brasilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has his own indigenous people, about whom he says:
“Minorities have to bend down to the majority … The minorities [should] either adapt or simply vanish”.
All of this is a kind of Darwinist-racist “survival of the fittest”, which is more precisely “survival of the fascists”. Opposition to such ideologies is always discouraged and dismissed by these people; they see themselves as “respected” because they are “strong”, as Netanyahu says; and anyone who opposes their chauvinism is destined to “crumble, [be] slaughtered and [be] erased from history.” Because the “strong” are the only ones worthy of survival.
This, together with Netanyahu’s “forever live by the sword“, is the Spartan nature of Zionism. “Leftist” Ehud Barak calls the country a “villa in the jungle”. But who cares how they choose to characterize colonialism? If they want to channel Churchill and write up their history as a “light unto the nations” and “survival of the higher-grade race”, let them do so. I’m not buying. I’ve already seen the Zionist light, with all its darkness.
H/t Mick Napier