Why are Israel and extreme right, antisemitic forces in a mutual embrace? The first visit by Brazil’s new fascist leader is to Israel. Israel is defying the pleas of the local Jewish community to court the government of Hungary, even while Prime Minister Orban rehabilitates as “a great patriot” WWII leader Admiral Horthy who delivered Hungary’s Jews to the Nazis for extermination.
The Polish Government recently joined a far right march that prominently featured White supremacist slogans, some calling for “an Islamic Holocaust” and one group defending an infamous 1941 massacre of 340 Jews in Jedwabne.
Poland and Hungary are two examples of governments with White nationalist bases and antisemitic support that are closely allied with Israel - a state based on Jewish supremacy that openly restricts some political rights for Jews only, and denies them to all Palestinians.
The Trump administration is courting White supremacists despite the recent slaughter of eleven Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue. This was only one of several antisemitic massacres in the US carried out recently by White supremacists, who also killed nine in an African American church (2015), six in a Sikh temple (2012), two in a New York and six in a Quebec City mosque across the border.
High profile Jewish Americans are holding Netanyahu partly responsible for these White supremacist atrocities, since he strongly supports Trump, who encourages, and has multiple links to, White supremacists.
Netanyahu and the Israeli government are keen to work with antisemites as long as they support the State of Israel. There is no paradox here; the Zionist movement is often led and staffed, as in Scotland, by Christian fundamentalists keen to get all Jews to Palestine to hasten Armageddon and the Second Coming. Antisemites agree that Jews should move out of Europe to join in the dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Many Zionist thinkers from Herzl onwards go further and exonerate the anti-Semites from all blame for their racism and attribute the anti-Semites’ views to a supposedly reasonable antipathy towards their Jewish neighbours.
Chaim Weizmann, later the first President of Israel, told a 1912 meeting in Berlin that “each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorders in her stomach. Germany already has too many Jews”.
For social conservatives like Herzl and Weizmann it is the supposedly defective nature of diaspora Jews themselves that makes them forever alien in Europe, a classic blaming the victim syndrome, a situation that can only be righted by Jews moving out of Europe to colonise an “empty” space and build a Zionist state.
Such a message was music to the ears of the anti-Semites; and was rightly seen by most Jews at the time as antisemitic, propagating the racist claim that Jews had no place in their home countries.
It is an axiom of Zionism that antisemitism is ineradicable, can not and should not be opposed but cooperated with to build a Zionist State.
The right-wing Christian nationalist regimes in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere see in Israel a bulwark against the “barbarian hordes” from Asia and Africa; they find Israel’s periodic slaughter of brown-skinned Palestinians admirable. (Theresa May and Co. merely find it tolerable because they see it as in Britain’s strategic interests. It is also profitable.)
The marriage made in hell between political Zionism and antisemites is not a recent phenomenon; it runs through the entire history of Zionism since Theodor Herzl, its founder, concluded that, “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”
Arthur James Balfour, who promoted Palestine as the destination for Zionist colonisation, was an antisemite so extreme that he saw eye-to-eye on the “Jewish question” with the notorious antisemite Cosima Wagner, widow of the composer. The only Jewish member of the British Cabinet , Edwin Montagu, opposed as antisemitic any notion of Jews as a nation, much less that they should decamp to Palestine, a project he presciently foresaw as inevitably leading to the subjugation of of the Palestinian people by incoming colonisers.
Balfour’s colleague, Winston Churchill, also of an antisemitic bent, promoted the Zionist project as an example of a superior race replacing inferior stock, a general process that he welcomed:
I do not admit the dog [the Palestinians] in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there a long time. I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race...has come in and taken their place.
The Palestinians are the victims of a British-promoted colonising project based on racial theories that could have come from Mein Kampf. There is a natural affinity between the extreme right and a settler-colonial project based on the elimination of the native people. Alliances between extreme right wing, antisemitic regimes and Israel predate the arrival of Netanyahu.
The Israeli Labour Government under Yitzhak Rabin in the 1970s developed close military, including nuclear, cooperation with apartheid South Africa. Rabin invited a delegation to Israel in 1976 led by John Vorster, who had been interned during WWII for his outspoken Nazi sympathies and ties to a fascist militia that made a habit of blowing up Jewish shops.
The South African Government 1976 Yearbook identified similarities between the two allies:
“Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples”.
Neo-Nazi movements admire Israeli militarism, without abandoning their long-term antisemitic credo. Richard Spencer, leader of the US White Supremacist Alt-right movement, calls himself a “White Zionist” and claims Israel is his inspiration for a state based on open ethnic supremacy and violent domination of the lesser races. Steven Bannon described his billionaire-backed Breitbart News as “the platform for the alt-right”.
The extreme right backs Israel as one of their own; Israel sells to such partners technology and expertise developed in crushing Palestinian resistance, making itself an asset to the world’s most brutal regimes.
Supporting freedom for Palestine means fighting a common enemy.
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
13 November 2018
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