Some and perhaps many will regard my headline question as offensive but I make no apology for asking it; and I take comfort from the fact that my decision to pose it is fully supported by one of my very dear Jewish friends – Nazi holocaust survivor Dr. Hajo Meyer.
Before I ran my proposed headline past him, I was well aware that he believes, and has said in public, that Zionism is seeking to dehumanize the Palestinians in the same way the Nazis sought to dehumanize him in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
When I asked him if he thought my proposed headline question should be asked, he said “Yes, absolutely.” He added: “Zionism is to modern enlightened Judaism what Nazism was to Germany’s traditional ethical values.” (One of Hajo’s most important books is titled An Ethical Tradition Betrayed, The End of Judaism).
The headline was provoked in my mind at the end of October by the announcement that with the approach of next January’s election, Israel’s ruling Likud party led by Prime Minister Netanyahu is joining forces with Yisrael Beiteinu, the ultra-nationalist group led by Avigdor Lieberman, the extreme-right foreign minister in the present coalition government.
As noted by Larry Derfner (who was fired from The Jerusalem Post for telling some truths on his web site), “Lieberman has a thoroughly deserved international reputation as an Arab-hating, war-loving, neo-fascist”. (Derfner also noted that the label “neo-fascist” was pinned on Lieberman by Martin Peretz, “the stridently pro-Israel, ex-publisher of The New Republic.”)
Fascism is one of those concept words with meaning that depends to some extent on what is happening at a particular moment in history. Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini and Spain under Franco were fascist states. The hallmarks of this fascism were governments dominated by dictators with magnetic personalities, who rallied their followers with messages which appealed to strident nationalism and promoted suspicion or hatred of both foreigners and “impure” people within their own nations (mainly Jews in Hitler’s case).
Today the term fascist is generally used to describe governments or individual leaders (as well as military dictatorships) which practice racism even if they do not preach it, and act in an arbitrary, self-righteous way in defiance of international law.
In October 2010, Uri Avnery wrote a warning piece with the headline Weimar In Jerusalem: The Rise of fascism in Israel. He concluded that Israel was not yet the “goose-stepping” Germany of Hitler’s days but could become something very like it unless Israeli society mobilized the democratic forces within itself. He added: ”But for that to happen, it must awake from the coma, understand what is happening and where it is leading to, protest and struggle by all available means – as long as that is still possible – in order to arrest the fascist wave that is threatening to engulf us.”
Two years on Netanyahu’s deal with Lieberman is surely an indication that the wave is gathering strength.
One of the most chilling reactions to their decision to make common cause for election purposes was that of Azriel Livnat. Who is he? A former senior member of Lehi, the Zionist terrorist organization also known as the Stern Gang (which offered to join forces with Hitler’s Nazis), and the father of Likud’s Limor Livnat, the current Minister of Culture & Sport. In an interview on 30 October with Israel’s Channel 7, the settlers’ main media outlet, Azriel Livnat said this:
“Maybe now the Likud will return to its roots. I hope that the two unified parties will guard the settlements and the entire Land of Israel, and that the vision of a Jewish State on both banks of the Jordan River will be fulfilled.”
Under the sub-heading of Israel’s place in the international club of fascists, Avnery offered an observation which I think is spot on.
“This (the wave of fascism) is not a uniquely Israeli phenomenon. All over Europe and America, overt fascists are raising their heads. The purveyors of hate, who until now have been spreading their poison at the margins of the political system, are now arriving at the centre. In almost every country there are demagogues who build their careers on incitement against the weak and helpless, who advocate the expulsion of ‘foreigners’ and the persecution of minorities. In the past they were easy to dismiss, as was Hitler at the beginning of his career. Now they must be taken seriously.”
In Netanyahu’s case there is scope for wondering how seriously we should take him. Yes, he is most definitely committed to a Greater Israel and denying the Palestinians a state on any terms (land and other) they can accept; but on other matters is he the master of bluff? Does he really believe, for example, that an Iran armed with a few nuclear bombs could and would pose an existential threat to the Zionist state (if he does, he’s mad); or did he decide to play the Iran threat card to get Palestine off the agenda, in order to allow Israel to continue its colonization and slow ethnic cleansing of the occupied West Bank without fear of sanction by the major powers?
There is, however, every reason to take Lieberman seriously, and the key to understanding why is in his party’s description of itself – “a national movement with the clear vision to follow in the brave path of Zev Jabotinsky.”
In the first and still existing Western draft of the history of the making of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, Jabotinsky is described as being not only the founding father of the Haganah and thus the Israeli army but also the founder of “Revisionist Zionism”.
As I explain at length in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, “Revisionist Zionism” is actually HONEST Zionism. Those who in 1897 proclaimed the coming into existence of Zionism (sometimes described as “practical Zionism” and/or “socialist Labour Zionism”) were DISHONEST.
They agreed not to go public with their real goal – a Jewish state in all of Arab Palestine. Instead they talked and wrote for public consumption about the need for Jewish settlement, by obvious implication something far short of statehood; and they pretended they could come to an agreeable accommodation with the Arabs. Simply stated, they didn’t want the world and their fellow Jews especially to even think about the probability that the creation of a Jewish state would require some and perhaps many Palestinians to be dispossessed of their land, their homes and their rights.
It was to anaesthetize the Jewish conscience that Zionism’s pre-Jabotinsky leaders came up with the monstrous, wicked propaganda lie that Palestine was “a land without people for a people without land.”
Enter Jabotinsky. His book The Iron Wall: We and the Arabs was published in 1923. Its main thrust was that Zionism had to take Palestine from its Arab owners by force or not at all. (Two years later Adolf Hitler published Volume One of Mein Kampf).
Jabotinsky’s book became the main inspirational text for most Jewish nationalists who became Israelis. (In my view The Iron Wall was to Zionism what Mein Kampf was to Nazism).
To understand Jabotinsky’s mindset is to understand how and why Israel became the arrogant, aggressive, oppressive, rascist state it is today and, also, why Lieberman is what he is. For that reason I am now going to quote (as I do in my book) nine paragraphs fromThe Iron Wall (with my emphasis added).
There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between the Arabs, not now and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority.
Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be the complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.
They have the precise psychology that we have. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervour that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie. Each people will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of colonization and conquest is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.
It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now.
Even an agreement with non-Palestinians (other Arabs) represents the same kind of fantasy. In order for Arab nationalists of Baghdad and Mecca and Damascus to agree to pay so serious a price they would have to refuse to maintain the Arab character of Palestine.
We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.
Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country conditions of rule and defence through which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization, administratively or physically. Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.
If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for that land, or find some rich man or benefactor who will provide a garrison on your behalf. Or else? Or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible – not difficult, not dangerous but IMPOSSIBLE! Zionism is a colonizing adventure and therefore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonization.
To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer -absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this (the Palestinians) is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.
That, a decade before the Nazis came to power in Germany, was the ideology of what was called Revisionist Zionism. Its Big Idea was the application of brute force in order to give the Arabs, when they had been dispossessed of their land, no hope of getting it back. There was to be no consideration of what was morally or legally right or wrong. Compromise was entirely ruled out. It was a “them or us” strategy.
With that attitude prevailing as Israel heads further and faster down the road to Nazi-like fascism, there can be no hope for an initiative from within for peace on any terms the Palestinians could accept.
Does that mean there’s no hope at all?
If the answer is “No”, I think the future is predictable. As I have indicated in previous articles, there will at some point be a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and that might well convert the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism into classical anti-Semitism, bringing on Holocaust II, shorthand for another great turning against Jews, starting quite possibly in America. (My friend Hajo thinks that is what Zionism wants because it believes that it’s only a matter of when not if the monster of anti-Semitism goes on the rampage again, and that when it does very many American and European Jews will flee to Israel for refuge and permanent settlement. If that is really what Zionism’s in-Israel leaders want, I said to Hajo, they might be disappointed because there’s another possible scenario. To best protect themselves by playing their necessary part in preventing anti-Israelism being transformed into classical anti-Semitism, American and European Jews might distance themselves from the Zionist monster, say goodbye to it. This they would hope, as I do, would demonstrate that they are not complicit in the Zionist state’s crimes. Hajo agreed this was a possibility).
Larry Derfner refuses to give up on hope. Under the headline The Bibi-Lieberman deal: A wake-up call to the would about Israel, he wrote that by unifying himself and the country’s ruling party with “an internationally despised neo-fascist”, Netanyahu has brought Israel “a sizeable step closer to the limits of Western tolerance.“. And he, Derfner, expanded that thought with these words:
“Ultimately that’s good news. The only way Israel is ever going to give up the occupation and its habit of military aggression is by going too far – by becoming such a Goliath that the Western world finally tells it to clean up its act or find some new allies.”
In my view there is merit in Derfner’s argument to the extent that it’s not impossible the limits of Western tolerance of Israel’s defiance of international law and constant sabotaging of efforts for peace will be reached and passed, and that a day could come, possibly in the last year of President Obama’s second term, when Israel will be told “Enough is enough”, and that it will be totally isolated and subjected to the full range of sanctions if it does not comply with international law. But…
Even if that was to happen, it’s by no means impossible that Israel’s nuclear-armed leaders would tell the whole non-Jewish world to go to hell.
In my book I wonder aloud if future historians will conclude that catastrophe for all was inevitable from the moment Britain gave Zionism a spurious degree of legitimacy with the Balfour Declaration.