Although by this point it is difficult to believe such a thing is possible, recent months have seen a further worsening of Israeli politics and policies both within the country and vis-á-vis the Arab population. A proposal by the fascistoid Yisrael Beitenu to implement a ‘loyalty oath’ for Israel citizens was rejected by the Netanyahu cabinet as recently as May last year(1), but now has actually been approved as a new law for those seeking to be naturalized to Israeli citizenship. Although this affects only a small number of people each year, it shows how slowly, step by step, Israel further and further moves the Overton window of political possibility towards an outright warlike fascism.(2) Prime Minister Netanyahu himself explicitly supported the proposal, adding:
As the cabinet began its deliberations Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated his support for the amendment. “The State of Israel is the national state of the Jewish people and it is a democratic state for all its citizenship,” he said. “Jews and non-Jews enjoy equality and full rights.”
“Unfortunately, there are many today who tried to blur not only the unique connection of the Jewish people to its homeland, but also the connection of the Jewish people to its state,” Netanyahu added.
This indeed is the clue: the connection of the Jewish people to ‘its state’ and ‘its homeland’. As we have described before, it is in the nature of settler states, set up against the will of a hostile local population, to rally around ethnic-racial standards and to pursue a policy of aggression and ultimately so-called ‘ethnic cleansing’ against that original population, since these methods are the only ones which can ensure that the settler state can exist qua settler state. Israel calls itself the “only democracy in the Middle East”, a refrain endlessly repeated ad lib. by its politicians of the ‘left’ and right – but it is a democracy that refuses to extend its citizenship to the hundreds of thousands it has driven out out of their land since its creation and their descendants, none of whom are even allowed anywhere near its hallowed lands. The falsehood of the idea of a ‘Jewish connection to the land’ is revealed when Israeli law allows any Jew according to its regulations to settle freely anywhere within Israel and obtain its citizenship, regardless of whether they and their ancestors have lived in Australia or Germany or Canada for generations on end, yet the Palestinians who still have the keys to the houses they were driven out of are not allowed to approach the border.
What sort of democracy is this then, this settler democracy? Indeed its sine qua non is to be first and foremost an ethnic-racial state. This is also why despite its claims to the equality before the law, it systematically discriminates against its non-Jewish population, which are given paltry sums for housing, education and similar needs compared to the Jewish population, and whose ownership of land within Israel has been systematically expropriated. When they attempt to have representation within the Knesset of this fine democratic country, only legal procedures can prevent their colleague parliamentarians from outright banning their parties. When defenders of the interests of the Israeli Arabs so much as visit Syria or Lebanon, they are imprisoned for espionage for Hezbollah. But that is not all – even with such repression, the word fascism should not be used lightly. Fascism after all is the natural tendency of a settler state put under significant pressure, as we have described with reference to Nazi Germany, and which J. Sakai has described so well in the past with reference to the United States of America.
Fortunately, at least in the analytical sense, Israel’s recent policies and political shifts have made the real fascist content more and more clear. Its basis is ever more that of an ethnic-racial state seeking to subjugate other peoples on the basis of ethnic criteria, and to annex their lands to enhance its resource base and vouchsafe its ‘security’. Already, Israel is following a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing (‘transfer’) of Palestinians based on their ethnicity, mainly by pestering the inhabitants of villages inside its ‘security wall’ and making life impossible for them so that they are effectively forced to move.(4) For the most part Israel has remained just shy of forcibly deporting the remaining Palestinian population, but this is because this tactic is effective enough and garners them plausible deniability for those who are inclined to believe its benevolent motives; something which has served them well ever since the Naqba, which even now such ‘critics’ as Benny Morris claim was not an expulsion because although the violence forced the inhabitants out, it could not be proven to be a deliberate plan, even if all actions served that effect. In fact,
Morris is warming us up to the idea to the idea of transfer. Since it was a historical option, his essay suggests, it may make sense now. He speculates, “perhapstoday’s Middle East would be a healthier, less violent place” if Israel had dispossessed all of the Palestinians in 1947-48, as opposed to only the “700,000 of Palestine’s 1.25 million Arab inhabitants.”
Similarly, Netanyahu himself had argued as early as 1989:
“Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”
Moreover, the attitude of Israelis towards the non-Jews in their midst is ever more aggressive, and ever more creeps towards a ‘solution’ based on such ethnic cleansing. As the Middle East Monitor reminds us,
more statistical evidence came in a poll devoted to the views of Jewish youth, conducted by the Institute of Studies, Magar Mouhot (“treasury of brains”), which found that 50% of young Jews surveyed believe that Arabs should not have the same rights as Jews in Israel; 56% said that Arabs must be prevented from running for the Knesset and 48% reject any notion of evacuating the [illegal] settlements and outposts in the occupied West Bank. Such extremism is more prominent among young ultra-orthodox Jews, with 82% demanding that Arab citizens should not be granted equal rights and 82% opposing the election of Arabs to the Knesset; 56% say that their fellow citizens who are Arabs should not be allowed to vote in Israel’s national democratic elections.
While the Arab population is therefore poised to be systematically excluded, such ‘democrats’ as the MKs from the National Union produce the following:
MK Ben Ari went on to say that the radical right-wing groups have been going through two tough decades since Kahane’s murder. “We have suffered persecution, administrative detentions, everything we had was confiscated. They tried to wipe us out, but we are soldiers. I was lucky to be part of such a group that created a fist of loyalty. I was given twice the amount of time for my speech honoring Rabbi Kahane at the Knesset today, the same speech I wasn’t allowed to give a year ago.”
Radical right-wing activist Baruch Marzel mentioned implicitly the assemblies held for late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in his speech. “Fifteen years ago memorials began for this one man. The state wasted millions on his legacy’s immortalization. There are almost no cities without a street or a hospital named after him. But after all of this, less and less people participate in his memorial services, because the truth gets clearer and clearer as years go by,” he said.
How’s that for a democratic trend?
Of course, at the same time as this is happening, Israel is also showing its expansionist tendencies, precisely as the theory of settlerist fascism would predict. Under the cover of peace talks, it ever expands further and further its settlements, despite the fact that even its closest ally, the United States, considers these to be illegal. While pretending to negotiate about a future two-state solution, in reality it ever more expands the ‘facts on the ground’ in favor of Israeli land at the expense of Palestinian territory, consciously making a potential future Palestinian state less and less viable. Even if such a state were to come to existence in the future, Israel has made sure that this future Palestine’s economic dependence on Israel itself will be almost total – only a bizarre archipelago of towns and farmland is what remains now of actual Palestinian territory, something which could never on its own be a viable state. This is all the more true since any exports to Europe and elsewhere would have to be undertaken by transport through Israeli territory, which will give Israel a virtually unrestrained ability to extort and sabotage a Palestinian economy. The result would be a permanent thuisland, economically unlivable and totally dependent, for the Palestinians, and an endless supply of Palestinian cheap labor for Israeli production, labor which besides would be able to claim virtually no rights because they are of a different ethnicity than the citizens of the ‘Jewish state’. A permanent labor apartheid state? Sound familiar? That’s because it is.
Israel violates its own laws, ignoring its own court system when it rules in favor of Palestinian or Israeli Arab claimants(9); it ignores internationally recognized borders, even when those borders are already widely in its favor and based on prior annexationism, as the 1967 borders are; it imprisons and kills foreigners who come to aid the Palestinians, even if they come in peace and offer nothing but goodwill or supplies for Palestinian people(10); it censors and imprisons its own citizens when they reveal its warmongering policies, such as its illegal nuclear weapons programs(11); it actively pursues the annexation of more and more land belonging to its neighbours, many of which it has invaded multiple times; it considers diplomacy to be relevant only insofar as it suits its own national interests(12); it imprisons its enemy people in a ghetto and then bombards the ghetto with chemical weapons(13); it refuses the international press to scrutinize any of its secret war operations(14); and so on and so forth. It should be clear to everyone involved that this accumulation of ‘incidents’ has gone beyond the stage of mere contingency, and has now come to form a clear and definite pattern: a pattern aiming towards the inevitable result of Israel’s ethnic foundation and its militarism, a fascist state.
This is why Reza Aslan is completely right to say that the ‘two state solution’ is dead.(15) Israel will never allow there to be two equally viable states in mandate Palestine, and any independent Palestinian state that exists will only serve either to provide Israel with subjugated labor or to be a permanent cause for further militarism in the name of ‘security’. And after that, who else might Israel not see fit to expand into in the name of its ‘security’? After all, if it weren’t for the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people, it may well have occupied southern Lebanon in perpetuity, and it still claims the Shebaa Valley and the Golan Heights. In fact, on the slightest provocation, whether real or imaginary, it occupied the entirety of the Sinai and it still costs the United States billions in bribes to Israel and its Egyptian vassal government to prevent a repetitition of these moves. Once Israel goes down this path, there is no end in sight. The only possibility is to have one state, a secular, democratic, nonracial and peaceful Palestine for Jew and Arab, Judaic (to distinguish the religion), Christian and Muslim alike, on the basis of the equality that only socialism can bring. When that happens through the actions of Israeli citizens, all the better – they will truly have earned the right to call themselves the true democracy of the Middle East. But given the current fascist turn in that country, none of us will be holding our breath.
1) “Israeli government rejects oath of loyalty”. BBC News (May 31, 2009).
2) Jonathan Lis, “Cabinet approves loyalty oath, but only for non-Jewish new citizens”. Haaretz (October 10, 2010).
3) Lis, op. cit.
4) See e.g. Amira Hass, “The IDF calls it security considerations, the inhabitants call it transfer”. Haaretz (July 21, 2003).
5) Will Youmans, “Preempting Transfer”. CounterPunch (Oct. 09, 2002). http://www.counterpunch.org/youmans1009.html
6) Youmans, op. cit.
7) Sawsan Ramahi, “Israel’s discrimination against its Arab citizens”. Middle East Monitor briefing paper, (June 29, 2010). http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/resources/briefing-papers/1230-israels-discrimination-against-its-arab-citizens
8) “Kahane supporters: We’ll destroy ‘Ishmael state'”. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3975518,00.html
9) Uri Blau, “IDF ignoring High Court on West Bank assassinations”. Haaretz (November 26, 2008).
10) E.g., Christie-Miller et al., “Mavi Marmara British activists describe moment when ship was attacked”. The Times (June 04, 2010); “IDF soldier involved in Rachel Corrie’s death testifies in public for first time”, Haaretz (June 21, 2010).
11) E.g. Batsheva Sobelman, “Censorship in Israel: ‘A unique model'”. Los Angeles Times (May 03, 2010); http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-04-03/israels-free-press-crackdown
13) Lahav Harkov, “IDF to limit white phosphorus use”. Jerusalem Post (July 21, 2010).
14) “Foreign reporters dub Israel ‘military dictatorship'”. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3653154,00.html