When tribalism trumps democracy, January 10, 2014
Herbert L. Calhoun
In the Middle East, another war of biblical proportions is taking place. It is the war between Judaism and democracy. This book tells us that the most famous outcome in the bible, the tale of David slaying Goliath, is now being reversed. This time around, David (Israeli democracy), loses, and loses badly to the Middle East’s new conservative run, nuclear-armed Goliath of Israeli neocolonialism, tribalism and racism.
Whatever else this book does, it forces us to face straight up, one of our worse hidden fears about that besieged little middle eastern nation: Right before our eyes, little brother Israel, has become the 21st Century’s first full-bred racist and fascist state. But how is it that in our life time, the collective guilt and heart-felt dreams for a Jewish homeland come true — one free of the evils of the kind of racism and anti-Semitism imposed on European Jewry by Adolph Hitler, has now been turned completely on its head?
This author tells us that it is happening because Israeli’s demographic and racist fears about neighboring Arabs has metastasized into wanton crimes and embarrassing politically motivated violence against the Palestinians and other Arabs under Israel’s occupation. The Israeli predilection for violence, coupled with justifications rooted in visceral racial fears, is systematically turning Israel into a modern-day race-based dystopia.
To his credit, the author allows the facts to speak for themselves, and they do so loudly and clearly. But even so, this book still begs the overriding question laid bare in its subtext: Could the reality on the ground, that turns the dreams of a free and democratic Israel into the only living ghost of Hitler really be as stark and as morally contradictory as they are portrayed in this book? I believe his answer and the answer given by any reasonable reader will be yes they are. And further, I believe that the reader will also conclude that Israel’s moral flip-flop from “defending democracy” to “defending Jewish racial purity,” is truly one of biblical proportions, and one that portends only bad things in the future for Israel and for the International Community.
In ten groups of themes that make up “73-on the ground vignettes,” this author, applies his considerable skills as a reporter to tell us vignette-by-vignette how Israel, with a hefty amount of U.S. political, PR and financial support, has turned itself from a nation that redeemed itself through its own self-creation, literally rising from the ashes of the horrors of Hitler’s gas chambers, into today’s embarrassing, living-modern-day proxy for Nazism itself: Israel has become a nuclear-armed international bully and outlaw that is growing dangerously close to repeating some of the worse atrocities committed against the Jewish people during Hitler’s reign?
These are not scripts that anyone could make up, nor are they facts that an historian could have predicted, nor can they be dismissed out of hand as just more anti-Israeli propaganda. Sadly, they have an unmistakable coherence and ring of truth that all point in the same direction. So much so that after reading this book, a reasonable reader will surely agree that the 73 vignettes presented here represent a scary but objective snatch of the reality existing on the ground in Israel today. It is a reality that portends a very dark future for Israel, one that, if the U.S. is not careful, could also rub off on it.
Just look at the way Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has silenced all progressive voices in Israel and has led a vanguard of proto-fascist thugs into the Knesset, and how he has been bent on goading Obama into another ill-fated war on Israel’s behalf, by attacking Iran?
Rather than rehearse the book’s vignettes, all full of unbelievably gory details, I will end by summarizing the logic of Benjamin Netanyahu’s (who refers to himself as “King Bibi”) neo-Colonialism: Netanyahu’s vision for Israel is as a regional neocolonial power forever maintaining itself in a steady-state of unending low-intensity warfare with its enemies, all non-Jewish Arabs. He has called on Israeli Jewish citizens to “steel” themselves for the long-haul, for this unending battle for the purity of Jewish blood, a long period of “one-way peace” in which Israel alone continues to enjoy relative peace, prosperity and tranquility, while Palestinian urban centers are systematically, bombed, uprooted and decimated. It is a combination of “in place” “Judaification” and “ethnic cleansing” — clearly a 21st Century variant of Hitler’s own lebenstraum.
When the author’s 73 vignettes are laid end-to-end they form an unmistakable pattern, a recognizable arc that is not unfamiliar to history or to contemporary international relations. It is the same arc that animated Hitler and that was used as justification for the genocide in Rwanda:When “manufactured” images of racial fears are coupled with myths of racial purity, invariably they will begin to clash with national ideals of democracy, liberty and justice. When this happens, a cheap kind of visceral nationalism rooted in a collective subconscious based on racial imperatives is created and nurtured. These race-based imperatives that constantly animate the society are always insatiable. As a result, the national cause reduces to a kind of cheap, simple-minded “We-versus-Them” mindset, a collective paranoia, the main feature of which is that the national consciousness is thereafter shrouded in a haze of moral blindness. It is the kind of haze behind which any and all national sins can be rationalized, justified and hidden — all in the name of, and in defense of, a mythical racial purity.
In Netanyahu’s newly created immoral universe, Israeli citizenship demands “as a given” and as a precondition, that moral norms be sacrificed on the altar of Jewish racial purity. Patriotism itself (reflected in the often heard Israeli cry “no loyalty no Citizenship”) is made a hostage to, and subordinate to, racist ideals — the same as was the case in Nazi Germany. There is one thing that this book makes clear and it is that there is no such thing as being an Israeli citizen without being a Jew?
During Hitler’s reign, the same twisted racist morality was placed in the service of dreams of a “Juden-free Germany,” ruled by a pure Ayran race. Today in Israel it is placed in service of a dream of an Arab-free ethnically-cleansed, pure Jew run, Israel.
The Netanyahu government thus has used the old Hitler canard of whipping up racial fears to animate public sentiment in order to justify his new-colonial policies, their bloated military budgets and “planned” destructive frenzies to be continuously perpetrated against “the Palestinian Other” — mostly with U.S. purchased weapons. At the same time, he continues to skillfully use AIPAC and CNN as his American PR mouthpieces. All the better to keep hidden from outsiders, the racial realities on the ground in Israel.
The problem with Netanyahu’s devious plan is that instead of being survival-extending for Israel, in the end it is just as likely to be survival-ending, and ending in a maximally self-destructive way.
The fact that many American politicians know what is going on in Israel, and yet will not tell the American people, nor will they discontinue their support of or denounce Netanyahu’s self-destructive racist policies, is almost as shameful as what Israel is doing to itself and to those under its occupation. This book will end once and for all any speculation about Israeli intentions about peace in the Middle East.
John Kerry, you can come home now? Israel will self-destruct on its own accord, time-table and in exactly the same way that Hitler did: pursuing an unattainable racist dream.