Last month, the recently formed Netanyahu-led ultranationalist government in Israel took office. Unlike the ambitions of other populist governments that have a craving for violence but still lack the structural means of attaining them, the crypto-fascists that currently smear any sanctity left in a holy land inherit decades of administrative experience of deprivation, legislative dispossession, and military intimidation. Being victims of past atrocities, most representatives of the Jewish state are still hesitant to be associated with the ideological boot that once stomped them. That’s why Israel is not just shaping itself to be like Hungary or Poland, but is taking its cues from militarily involved countries such as Turkey. When newly-elected members of a Jewish supremacist political party call to expand the scope of institutional coercion to include other marginalized groups such as women or homosexuals, (1) they are basing their political intentions on a longstanding, and perfected, professionalism of debasing Palestinians. This is not a new phenomenon. When the pragmatic moderates led by Yair Lapid composed the previous Israeli government, over seven thousand Palestinians were arrested. Despite the vast evidence of settlers and soldiers who continue to injure activists, not a single one was cuffed or put behind bars after assaulting an elderly woman battered in an olive harvest, or abusing international activists who were escorting Palestinian shepherds. (2)
It is painful as it is clear that Israelis protesting against a complete disintegration of the political system are essentially terrified to be treated as Palestinians under Israeli custody always have been.
Many Israelis now exert their peaceful right to protest against Netanyahu’s government, as they should in a democracy. But as much as current protests taking place in Israel are crucial for the formation of a hypothetical civic society, it is painful as it is clear that Israelis protesting against a complete disintegration of the political system are essentially terrified to be treated as Palestinians under Israeli custody always have been.
Gut-wrenching ultranationalist tacticians include the representative Zvika Fogel of the Jewish Might (Otzma Yehudit) party, which has vowed to “make a thousand Palestinian mothers cry.” (3) Another noteworthy orator is Itamar Ben-Gvir’s chief of staff at the National Security Ministry, Chanamel Dorfman, who went on the record after attending a rally against African migrants to say that “the only problem with the Nazis is that I was on the losing side.” (4) Another like-minded jackass is Yonatan Yosef, an elected Jerusalem councilman who toured a local Palestinian neighborhood with settlers, touting their wish for a Nakba. (5) In doing so, the councilman accidentally revealed a key component of neofascism; Israel continues to deny any structural involvement in the great displacement of Palestinians known as the Nakba. Yet that doesn’t stop some of its staunchest supporters to crave another one. Why is that? Well, fascists regard violence as the sole prime mover to propel “civilization” forward, but still contest any violence that happens under their watch. That’s because all fascist movements rely on a fictional, pastoral past. In this case, an empty land of milk and honey. Fascists are compelled to publicly deny historical acts of violence that they would intuitively take pride in. If they don’t, the jig will be up and the myth of paradise lost will be revealed. That’s why the past is used as a reference point of violence for the future, but not as an event to admit in order to sympathize with the other.
Speaking up against anything that makes us speechless is a demanding affair. But that does not absolve public figures who remain silent on the matter. Ursula von der Leyen has congratulated Netanyahu on his sixth term, writing that she is looking forward to working on strengthening their ongoing geopolitical partnership and promoting peace. (6) Olaf Scholz joined accordingly, (7) congratulating the man who formed a coalition with celebrators of National Socialism, active advocates of Jewish terrorist cells, and a self-proclaimed fascist homophobe. (8) There is at least one more explanation for the ethical bankruptcy of European politicians when it comes to the radicalization of Israel, and it lies beyond an exhausting discourse regarding historical responsibility. The European Union continues to be the largest international buyer of Israel’s exported arms that are worth over ten billion dollars. (9) Acting as a crucial defense trading partner, Germany has bought Israel’s anti-ballistic missile system for the estimated price of two billion euros just this September. (10) The need to stay diplomatic is reprehensible, but not surprising—there is little interest in the start-up nation being in an ongoing, untold state of moral collapse, as long as it continues to deliver the goods. Not even if the aforementioned technologies are constantly tested on surveilling or harming Palestinians across a labyrinth of checkpoints and refugee camps that compose their frail national authority. Yes, the very same national authority that Netanyahu and his goons wish to financially sabotage, as Israel has now killed a higher number of Palestinians than the total number of days in this year so far. Just this week, Israeli forces have killed nine Palestinians and wounded many others in the city of Jenin– the very city that Israel has agreed will be under the sole authority of the Palestinian National Authority when it signed the Oslo Accords about thirty years ago. In response to this absolute violation of international agreement and senseless murder spree in Jenin, Almog Cohen of Otzma Yehudit tweeted “keep killing them”. (11)
The ultimate result of humanizing a state is estranging human lives.
Europe wishes to intercept the Russian invasion of Ukraine by using Israeli technology. But combating one militaristic ideology by nurturing another is not only reprehensible, it is also a miserable geopolitical consideration that the Global North finds itself repeatedly doing, whether it’s Erdoğan’s Turkey or Netanyahu’s Israel. But in order to keep face, the most popular line of defense for the State of Israel and its actions is also the one that remains most volatile. Articulate politicians and individuals who crave public consensus have repeatedly stated that they refute senseless violence against Palestinians due to their unwavering commitment to Israel. (12) But such a miserable response is a key component of the problem, since the ultimate result of humanizing a state is estranging human lives.
Anyone wishing to represent the so-called moderate majority, be it in Europe or Israel, is, in fact, concerned more with the public relations of an abstract political body than with changing the content of an ongoing reality that continues to pile countless corpses.
If there is a sincere desire for change, a renewed understanding of human life as more valuable than the ritual of abstract symbols is mandatory. It necessitates not only blanket statements in support of democracy in mass protests, but also applying pressure to the systems that legitimate the agony of Israelis and Palestinians alike.