Bibi Netanyahu is facing no particular internal political threat (though he faces an external one in the shape of Barack Obama), yet his competitors for Likud party leadership are still jockeying for position. Bogie Yaalon, former IDF chief of staff and current minister of strategic affairs, sees himself as a future prince of the Likud. To become party leader, he apparently sees his best chance by allying himself with fascist right. That’s why he spoke at an event this week honoring Moshe Feiglin, leader of the Manhigut Yehudit far right faction of the party. In case you’re wondering where to place Feiglin on the political spectrum, think an amalgam of Geert Wilders, Meir Kahane, Jean Marie Le Pen and Jorge Haider:
Here is but a single statement out of many that I could offer:
“Hitler was an unparalleled military genius. Nazism promoted Germany from a low to a fantastic physical and ideological status. The ragged, trashy youth body turned into a neat and orderly part of society and Germany received an exemplary regime, a proper justice system and public order. Hitler savored good music. He would paint. This was no bunch of thugs. They merely used thugs and homosexuals.”
Feiglin’s views are so extreme that the British foreign office declared him persona non grata there, meaning he can’t fundraise among his fellow British Kahanists.
Here is a selection of Yaalon’s more offensive statements at the event:
“I, for one, am not afraid of the Americans,” Ya’alon said in the speech, which was reported by Channel 2’s Amit Segal. “I believe that Jews have the right to live anywhere in the land of Israel forever.”
In the speech, Ya’alon also denounced the power of the press and other “elites” in Israel to make or break politicians and lashed out at the extreme Left. He also called Peace Now “a virus.”
Feiglin praised Ya’alon at the rally and committed to him the support of Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit ideological forum in Likud, which has become increasingly powerful in the party’s institutions. That support could aid Ya’alon in an eventual run to lead the party.
Most observers of Israeli politics will not be surprised at any of this. Likud has long been the home of some of the most stridently nationalist politicians in the country. But it is still somewhat unusual for a Likud party leader to support overtly those who ardently espouse the political views of Meir Kahane. After all, while he was alive the man was considered persona non grata and practically a Jewish terrorist by most of the nation.
This development indicates to me that had Kahane lived he would not be in jail, but rather a minister in the current government and a potential Likud party leader. Those who care about Israel must be alarmed by the alliances made by politicians such as Yaalon. We are rapidly losing the Israel some of us once knew. It is being replaced by a state lapsing into proto-fascism.