Israel is a Kahanist State
Bibi Netanyahu’s recent comments about the nature of the Israeli state have exposed both him and the nation as a joint Kahanist enterprise. Until now, Netanyahu played it coy. He was like the old Enlightenment saying: be a Jew at home and a human being in public. With the Israeli public, he spoke candidly and betrayed the racism inherent in his world-view. But abroad, he would talk-the-talk: two states, we’re ready for peace…blah, blah, blah. It was all a sham. One which enabled him to sit in pleasant company when he rubbed shoulders with world leaders. But on his arrival home, he dispensed with the niceties and became the tough-talking, street-fighting bully, (“King Bibi,” as he was known) he knew his electorate craved.
American presidents, both Republican and Democrat, served as a restraint against Netanyahu’s worst impulses. He knew that not only did U.S. Middle East policy endorse a two-state solution, the presidents themselves did. He also knew that at least formally, U.S. policy viewed settlements as an impediment to peace. So he built those settlements covertly (and not so covertly) with a wink and a nod. He’d tell his American interlocutor he wasn’t building new settlements, but rather “thickening” existing ones. As if this somehow made the ongoing theft of Palestinian land less objectionable.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum…Netanyahu saw the rise of far-right nationalism-populism both in Europe and the U.S. He realized he could dispense with the bromides about wanting peace, and unleash the brass knuckles against the Palestinians, both those in the Territories and those inside Israel. In this he showed his true colors, reminiscent of the hectoring Hitler-like 1995 speech he delivered on the Jerusalem balcony, which led almost directly to Rabin’s murder. This was the brutish, sullen, malevolent Bibi. The one who lashed out violently at enemies, either his own or Israel’s.
What really sealed the deal was the ascendancy of Donald Trump, with his unleashed id. Trump endorses the tenets of white supremacy and espouses the same xenophobic impulses he shares with Netanyahu’s Jewish nationalist base. All this was music to the Israeli leader’s ears. Trump would let Bibi be Bibi.
That Trump also employs anti-Semitic dog whistles is not Bibi’s problem. That’s the problem of American Jews, those liberal Democrats for whom the Israeli premier has nothing but scorn.
Thus Netanyahu personally orchestrated the awkward marriage of the last remnants of the National Religious Party, Bayit Yehudi, with the successor to Israeli Kahanism, Otzma Yehudit. He did this because he knew that every vote would count in the coming election. Unless these two far-right religious nationalist parties merged, neither would enter the Knesset and their votes would be lost to him. Now that he’s promised them two seats in the cabinet and an almost guaranteed place on the Likud list, he knows that the settler far-right will be in his camp. In doing this, Netanyahu completely abandoned any remnant of western liberal values which he used to flaunt in his forays to the west. Gone was the consummate world leader, and in his place the snarling voice of Meir Kahane.
American Jewish leaders were aghast. But in their timidity they criticized only the merger of the two parties, but not the author of this monstrosity, Bibi himself. American Jews are so hypnotized (and I use Ilhan Omar’s term deliberately) by their long-term fealty to Israel that they cannot rouse themselves from their comatose state. They cannot call a spade a spade. They cannot admit that Israel is not only no longer a liberal democracy, but that it has become a Kahanist state. They will stay loyal to the end. And at this rate, there may be an end to this Kahanist state.
Further, Israeli model and TV presenter, Rotem Sela, complained about hysterical Israeli Jewish attitudes toward their fellow “Arab” citizens:
“Miri Regev is [warning] that the public needs to beware, because if Benny Gantz is elected he will have to create a government with the Arabs…And I ask myself…: ‘And what’s the problem with the Arabs???’ Dear God, there are also Arab citizens in this country.”
She went on, “When will anyone in this government tell the public that this is a country of all its citizens, and all people are born equal. The Arabs are also human beings. And also the Druze, and the gays, and the lesbians and… gasp… leftists.”
Not about to be lectured by one of the effete Euro-Israeli liberals he and his base detest, Bibi retorted:
“Israel is not a country of all its citizens,” the embattled prime minister wrote. “According to the nation-state law that we passed, Israel is the state of the Jewish people — and is theirs alone,” adding that “there is no problem with Arab citizens – they have equal rights like everybody.”
Imagine if you will, that a Christian white American president declares that this country is no longer one of all its citizens, but only of its Christian white citizens. He says furthermore, that all others may live in this country, but that it is not theirs. They live here by sufferance of the white Christian majority. What do you think the response would be? Sheer pandemonium.
But has there been any such uproar in Israel? Yes, the Druze raised a stink because they were “loyal” to the State even before it existed. Their youth have served in the IDF for generations. But even they were shut out of the Nation-state law. So a few “liberal-minded” Israelis thought it was a terrible shame that such loyalty was disrespected by the Knesset. But not a peep on behalf of Israel’s Palestinians, except from the Palestinians themselves, who were none too happy. But what leverage do they have? None. Not only are they a minority, they are a virtually powerless one.
Now, the mask is off. Bibi is Bibi, the snarling Jewish werewolf ready to sink his fangs into any Palestinian who forgets that he’s an Israeli only by the sufferance of the Jewish majority. When Nazi Germany sunk into the fascist morass in the early 1930s, American Jews organized an international boycott to protest the rise of such Jew hatred. There is a similar movement today, BDS, which demands Israel be a nation of all its citizens. Instead of embracing it, American Jews have sought to turn it into the devil itself. How long before they realize that the liberal democracy they worshipped in their youth is no longer. It can never be restored. It has been hijacked by a monstrous Israeli Jewish fascist movement. We must divorce ourselves from it and declare we are for a true democracy of all Israel’s citizens, in which all are recognized as equal partners in this national project.
8 thoughts on “Israel is a Kahanist State – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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“there is no problem with Arab citizens – they have equal rights like everybody.” I have read and heard this so much from the so called “pro-Israel” in their arguments but how is this so? Then they go on with their talking point examples-token.
BDS, JVP etc did not arise in a vacuum. It’s a consequence, a response.
The line in this article which leads to a link to Haskalah states “be a Jew at home and a human being in public.” To me, this could be interpreted by those who have hateful and racist leaning to read that Jews are not human beings but hide in plain site. Given the huge backlash against Ilhan Omar where she is accused of anti-semitism for using language that can be construed as such, this quote gives me pause.
I’m not Jewish, and I read practically every article you post, Mr. Silverstein, and I rely on you for your very insightful and deep analysis on a variety of topics that are important for those of us who want to understand Isreal and Palestine. I’m taken aback that this saying even exists in the vernacular of the Jewish community.
I can only presume that the saying originated from a time where it was absolutely necessary as a self-protective mechanism. Though, even today, it is equally relavant.
If I were to repeat this saying in public, how would I be viewed?
@ Theo Anonis: When you are not a Jew, I would caution you to assume you understand aspects of Jewish tradition unless you’re fully aware of context, history, and shadings of meaning. You should not adopt your own interpretation of what sayings like this mean, unless you are certain it is correct. You have read a bit too much into the saying.
In one thing you are right: Jews have throughout their history been forced to conceal their identity on pain of death. Such “hiding” goes all the way back to the Roman era (if not earlier) and continues all the way up to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. We’ve been killed for revealing the least hint of our identity. So yes, Jews have always felt they must conceal who they are or face death.
But the saying ‘be a Jew in the home and a person outside it’ is slightly different. Be a Jew in the home means be a fully practicing observant Jew in your private personal life with family and other Jews. But when you go about in public you must adhere to the non-Jewish customs of the community. You must blend in, integrate into the surrounding environment.
Sometimes it may mean that you should conceal your Jewish identity or at least not flaunt it, as a form of self-protection. But sometimes it means you should assimilate into your society as a good citizen.
You have translated the term ben adam as “human being.” While that isn’t an incorrect translation in general, here it is. Ben adam here means generically “be a person” like any other.
[comment deleted: commenter banned. Periodically, someone tries to publish a comment in which they deliberately assume the identity of another religion or nationality. Usually, it is a pro-Israel advocate pretending to be a Muslim and mouthing phrases that defend or support Israel. This commenter has done this. He’s even managed to throw in some Arabic to make himself appear authentic. And pretending to have gone on hajj was a nice touch as well. If you try this shit here you will be permanently banned as this joker has been.]
Not quite a Kahanist State.
@bstmiird: Wrong. Shall i name all the other Kahanists running proudly for Knesset who are not barred? Oren Hazan, who just released a video in which he murders a Palestinian MK (in “jest” of course). Or the co-leader of Otzma Yehudit who murdered 2 Palestinians in the 1990s and got off scot free? Or Feiglin who admires Hitler? Or Glick, who wants to start a holy war by tearing down the mosques of the Haram al Sharif. Then there’s Lieberman and Bennett who advocate ethnic cleansing, another Kahanist “greatest hit.”
A Kahanist State, but one in which a left wing Meretz Party can get Kahanist Ben Ari banned from running for office, prompting Ben Ari to say, “a judicial junta is trying to impose its laws… it’s not democracy.”
A Kanhanist State where the Supreme Court approved a previously disqualified candidate from the extreme-left Hadash party, and approved Arab Raam-Balad party, a fierce critic of Israeli policies. Raam-Balad had initially been barred by the elections committee over its alleged support for violent resistance.
Wow. This sounds more like the American ‘Deep State’, than a Kahanist State.