Although I am sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and hardly a friend of Israel, I must admit to being shocked at the analogy made by many in the anti-Israel camp between the Jewish state and the Thousand Year Reich. I remember seeing photos of a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the US that had swastikas scrawled all over the picket signs and slogans equating Sharon with Hitler. It seemed, at the time, a little over-the-top, and even offensive: after all, there is something distinctly icky about likening the victims of the Holocaust to the perpetrators. Now that the Israeli government is not only seizing Palestinian land but building public sector “Jews only” housing on it, however, the analogy between Zionism and Nazism is obscenely undeniable.
The Nazi-Zionist equation is still overblown, of course, since Ariel Sharon has a looong way to go before the number of his victims even distantly approaches the six-million mark. But an important principle has been established, that of exclusivism as an official Israeli policy. Just as the Nazis declared that Europe would one day be “Judenrein” (without Jews), so the leaders of the Jewish state are now announcing their intent to create a Palestinian-free nation. Unless they are stopped, the radical Zionists will be forced to utilize the same methods as Hitler’s stormtrooopers: massacre, deportation, and genocide.
In America, the ceaseless refrain of Israel’s amen corner boils down to one essential argument: that Israel is a “democracy,” a member in good standing of the West, and even (incredibly) a “free market” economy compared to the “closed” economies of the Arab world. It was my old friend, the pseudonymous “Emmanuel Goldstein,” formerly our British correspondent and now writing his own excellent blog, Airstrip One, who first raised the interesting question as to whether Israeli political culture is, in reality, a Western phenomenon. Goldstein asserts that the waves of immigration to Israel from Arab countries, coupled with the growing Russian influence, consitutute a radically de-Westernizing influence:
“So what are the cultural implications of this? Well it is orientalising Israel. Whereas the predominantly Ashkenasi Zionist movement was heavily influenced by the ideas sweeping around Western Europe because of the years spent in or near Western Europe what is the likely outcome of a longer immersion in Arab culture for the Sephardic Jews?”
The egalitarian socialist ideals the Labor Zionist founders of the kibbutz movement brought with them from Europe and planted in Israeli soil have been transmuted, in the Middle Eastern climate, into a malevolent hybrid that now openly pursues a policy of ethnic cleansing. The wall idea, the increasingly popular mass deportation option, the announcement that the IDF is in the West Bank “indefinitely,”and now ethno-religious exclusivism, all point to the dead-on accuracy of Goldstein’s trenchant analysis, which he sums up succinctly:
“Maybe what we are seeing is that Israel is becoming a foreign country to us. So our high standards should not be applied to Israel so rigorously.”
Every time the Los Angeles Times reports a news story that puts Israel in a bad light, they are flooded with emails vehemently protesting the coverage, and a boycott has been launched. On the East Coast, the other Times is under a similar assault. Major newspapers across the country have been boycotted, pestered, and bitterly denounced as the modern-day equivalent of Der Stuermer if they so much as look at Ariel Sharon cross-eyed and they have been amazingly (I would say frighteningly) effective. Now, just think if all those angry emailers channeled their energies toward stopping this immoral and counter-productive “Jews only” policy from taking effect. How long would it take before the policy was changed? Of course, this time they aren’t up against some mushy liberal editor, but the Iron Minister, the Israeli Bismarck, who is unlikely to be swayed quite as easily. But perhaps the argument that blatant exclusivism will alienate potential allies in the US the source, after all, of Israel’s main support and the key to its continued survival will persuade some of the more reasonable elements within Israeli ruling circles, assuming that any are left.
That’s a big assumption, considering the troubling direction that Israeli society seems to be taking. You may blame this on the suicide bombers, but the growth of Israeli fundamentalism as a religious-political movement has reached new heights. I discussed this phenomenon in a column on the “red heifer,” the birth of which is supposed to signal some theologically-ordained Armageddon in the Middle East according to both Jewish and Christian fundamentalists. Now it has reached a new pitch of nuttiness with the news that the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple, otherwise knowing as the Wailing Wall, is itself shedding tears and the nutballs, naturally, are in a perfect lather .
It’s all because of “a small damp patch that has appeared on one of the giant stone slabs,” as the BBC dryly puts it. Ultra-orthodox Jews believe this may be a portent of the Messiah, and already two men tried to climb the wall in an attempt to discover the source of the leak; they were escorted away by police.
This is the spot where the holiest of holies of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism stand practically on top of one another: the site of the original Jewish temple, the Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque, and the site of many Christian shrines and it is a tinderbox waiting to explode. The visions of apocalypse shared by most fundamentalist strains intersect here, at the crossroads of the world’s major religions the flashpoint of a new world war.
The War Party often compares the “war on terrorism” to World War II, but who are the real Nazis here? We hear much about “Islamofascism” from the likes of neoconservative lefties like Christopher Hitchens and neoconservative rightists like Andrew Sullivan, but of its close cousin, Judeo-fascism, we hear nary a word. Now, why is that? It isn’t just the many cruelties of Sharon’s blitzkrieg, what Israel’s apologists skillfully explain away as as necessary cruelties, but its blatant destructiveness, clearly meant to tear down an entire nation and build another on the rubble, that recall the Hitlerian style:
“Armed Israeli police, with the help of a locksmith and a moving van, stormed into the administrative offices of the preeminent Palestinian university in Jerusalem today, closing the building and accusing officials there of working for Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority. Witnesses said police sealed the offices of the university president, Sari Nusseibeh, the senior Palestinian representative in Jerusalem and internationally one of the most recognized voices of moderation among Palestinians.”
This Washington Post report then quotes the aptly named Israeli Public Security Minister, Uzi Landau, describing the university as “the long arm of the Palestinian Authority, operating against the law.” So this is now the “law” a lawless attack not on terrorist targets, but on every manifestation of Palestinian culture and presence. When the Nazis invaded German universities, burning books and purging Jews, the face of German national socialism was revealed for all the world to see. Now the masks have come off in Israel, and we are witnessing the birth of a phenomenon straight out of Bizarro World, a grotesque inversion that couldn’t just couldn’t be real: Jewish Nazism.
Aggressive, expansionist, exclusivist, belligerent even in cyberspace Israel increasingly fits the Nazi-fascist profile:
“During the first half of 2002, Israel ranked first in the world in the number of hacker attacks relative to its number of Web users, according to a study published by the American security firm Riptech. The study found that for every 10,000 Israeli Web surfers, there are an average of 33.1 hacker attacks generated against Internet sites throughout the world.”
Israel uber alles this is the program of the proto-fascist movement now incubating in Israel, and it has its share of American supporters. Perhaps, however, this “Jews only” housing policy is too blatant even for them, and they’ll put pressure on Tel Aviv to back down. I await the gently scolding screeds in National Review and the Weekly Standard, prefaced by all sorts of exculpatory phrases and equivocations, advising the Israelis to cool it. Either that, or else an endorsement of exclusivism accompanied, naturally enough, by a suggestion that AIPAC change its name from the Israel-American Public Affairs Committee to the Israeli-American Bund.