Racism and Fascism in Israel 04.07.02 Search

A Jew Sees the Israeli government as the greatest enemy of the spiritual integrity and physical security of the Jewish people

Andrew Silver

for the Panel on the Middle East
at the 3rd Annual Social Justice conference,
Charlotte, NC

When I left Israel in 1980, I saw the Israeli government, in its pursuit of colonial policies, as the greatest enemy of the spiritual integrity and of the physical security of the Jewish people.  Its policies logically can lead only to catastrophe after catastrophe.  But it continues these policies because it is assured of US support, and that US support is assured by the blind, ignorant support of Israel right or wrong that most American Jews insist on.  This support for a Fascist state is a catastrophe to all Jewish people as great as the holocaust.  The latter wreaked the near physical destruction of the Jewish people.  The support of Jews for Israel is wreaking the total moral and spiritual destruction of the Jewish people.

I am a Jew.  I am an Israeli, and for most of my life I have been a Zionist.  I believe that the Jews are entitled - by history, by tradition, even our own myths - to a Jewish state.  To desire one's own state is not racist per se.   I think that the Kurds, the Ibo and Ogoni tribespeople of Nigeria, the Mayan Indians of Chiapas and Guatemala, the Indians of the Amazon rainforest, and the Montagnards of the central highlands of Vietnam ought to have their own states, or at least autonomy and guarantees against incursions from alien peoples.  They have had autonomy and freedom in the recent past, and it ought never to have been taken away from them.  So with Israel, I thought . . .when I emigrated there in 1966 with a little encouragement from my draft board in Nashville, Tennessee.

During 14 years in Israel, however, I became persuaded that Israel is, indeed, a racist state, that the racism of Jews toward Arabs is psychologically much the same as the racism of whites toward blacks amid which I grew up in Tennessee.  The model for Israel is not that of a just democratic state not bothering and not being bothered by its neighbors.  Rather Israel has chosen the South African Model of Apartheid - imposing its domination on millions of indigenous non-Jewish people.

When Israel suddenly gained possession of the remaining 22% of Palestinian lands in 1967, it seemed to me that the obvious deal, land for peace, would be made within months.  The Palestinians, oppressed and embittered during 20 years of domination by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, could now have their own state.  Israel, being technologically and economically so far advanced over neighboring countries could help a new Palestinian state get established with a mini-Marshall plan, helping the Palestinians to enjoy a con-dominium of progress mutual cultural enrichment, and prosperity, while maintaining their own national identity and the Jews theirs.  Thus, I believed, a just peaceful and democratic Jewish state could exist, sharing resources and national aspirations, with a neighborly Palestinian state - proving to be a better friend to the Palestinians than the backward Arab states.

But movements suddenly arose in Israel with ideas and goals which seemed totally alien to me as a Jew.  Masses of people followed the calls of primitive religious fanatics, claiming that God had given the whole land of Israel to the Jews, and that they must keep it forever.  There was always a debate about needing to keep the territories for security - but it was always nonsense, and not the real reason.  The real reason why the majority of the Jewish people insisted on keeping the West Bank and Gaza was their primitive messianic Chauvinism, as barbaric as the Nazis' dream of a thirty year Reich with Deutschland uber alles, and their visceral racist contempt for the Palestinian people.

In fact the situation that Israel has put itself in over the past 35 years has a striking parallel with the subjective situation that Nazi Germany was in.  (Any of you who heard my previous talk may think that I am obsessed with Naziism - well, I am).  Forty years ago I wrote an undergraduate thesis on the psychology of totalitarianism, and in most of the history I have lived through since then, I have seen the same themes of irrational collective desire to dominate and destroy other people played out over and over again.  "Never again," is a grand lie - the truth is "Ever again."

The Nazis had a problem - they wanted to have a reborn and expanded German nation - but large numbers of non-German people were living in their lands.  They needed to get rid of the Jews, Gypsies, and other inferior races, and they did.  they found a logical solution.  The Israelis wish to have a reborn and expanded Jewish nation.  But 5 million Jews are living in the territory with 4 million others,  mostly Palestinians.  Issrael, Sharon in particular, wishes to keep the land but not have the Palestinians there.  What are they to do?  For 35  years they have tried to make life unbearable, at least for the 3 1/2 million Palestinians in the territories.  In recent years in particular, they have denied the Palestinians the most elemental human rights.

Our American founding fathers led a fight against British tyranny. But that tyranny was far less severe than the Israeli tyranny in Palestine. The American colonists at least could build houses without having them torn down by the king's soldiers. They were free to exploit the land and its resources. The king's agents did not systematically assassinate rebel colonists. The Palestinians are deprived of most of the meager resources of their land, most now are acutely impoverished because of Israeli closures and oppression, and dozens have been murdered by Israeli state terrorism.

Given the logic of the situation created by Israel, it  now must either find a final solution with the kind of unrelenting logic that impelled the Nazis, or it must live in constant conflict with the people it is oppressing.  Following the latter course Israel can never find security, as an oppressed people can not be expected to cease fighting for its freedom.  The situation in Israel/Palestine now resembles a classic colonial war of liberation, with unspeakable atrocities on both sides, as occurred during the French-Algerian war and the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.  Restoration of colonial peace and order is inconceivable.  The struggle can only continue until Israel abandons its colonial dreams, or is vanquished.

When I left Israel in 1980, I saw the Israeli government, in its pursuit of colonial policies, as the greatest enemy of the spiritual integrity and of the physical security of the Jewish people.  Its policies logically can lead only to catastrophe after catastrophe.  But it continues these policies because it is assured of US support, and that US support is assured by the blind, ignorant support of Israel right or wrong that most American Jews insist on.  This support for a Fascist state is a catastrophe to all Jewish people as great as the holocaust.  The latter wreaked the near physical destruction of the Jewish people.  The support of Jews for Israel is wreaking the total moral and spiritual destruction of the Jewish people.

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