One of Daniel Pipes‘ affiliate groups, the Israel Victory Project, paid for skyscraper-size billboards in Tel Aviv featuring images of Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh blindfolded, holding a white flag and begging for mercy on their knees, while Israeli helicopter gunships hover over a decimated Palestinian landscape. The caption is: “You can only make peace with enemies who have been utterly humiliated.” This may rightly be called a Judeo-fascist version of the Final Solution.
Pipes’ main claim to fame is his founding of the Middle East Forum, a pseudo-academic think tank designed to promote Islamophobia and pro-Israel propaganda. The IVP website lists Pipes as its founder. He has voiced similarly genocidal views in the past favoring exterminating Gaza unless it ceased terror attacks against Israel. Pipes also founded Campus Watch, which served as a template for the far more successful Israeli fascist group, Im Tirzu. That group monitors professors and course curricula that do not adhere to a strictly pro-Israel orientation. It urges universities to fire professors who cross its red lines.
Tel Aviv’s mayor, Ron Huldai, demanded that the advertising company remove the ads and they were taken down in the middle of the night, to the dismay of Pipes’ group, which promised to bring the case before the Supreme Court.
Huldai’s rationale for removing the offending billboard is interesting both for its content and how it denies any connection between that and Israeli values:
The ad incites violence that is reminiscent of ISIS and the Nazis–among whom we don’t wish to be counted. Degrading the Other is not our way.
The only thing false about the ad is the foreground images of Abbas and Haniyeh on their knees. The background obliteration of Gaza has happened repeatedly under Israeli assault. And Israeli boasts by generals and political leaders alike have warned that Palestinian and Lebanese cities would be bombed back to the Stone Age. Thus, there clearly is a genocidal urge among Israelis in their battle with their Arab neighbors including the Palestinians. The ad merely represents it graphically.
But they are embarrassed when the images are plastered ten stories high in the country’s major metropolis, forcing them to acknowledge what they prefer to conceal. That’s why Huldai pulled them down so quickly. His city has a cosmopolitan reputation to uphold for the millions of tourists who visit each year. It would be terribly embarrassing for them to see with their own eyes Israel’s ultimate goal in eliminating Palestine via utter degradation and genocidal extermination.
In attempting to rebut this post, Israel apologists elsewhere have said that the billboard doesn’t really represent the views of Israelis. It’s a product of a few nutcases, etc. Anyone who really knows anything about Israeli society and politics knows that such hate runs rampant in Israeli society. It’s one of the reasons the Israeli far-right has dominated government and politics for decades (with a few short intervals that were exceptions).
Huldai is right in one claim: the billboard is a major incitement of Palestinian militants who perceive this as a provocation to which they must respond with violence befitting the violence of the image. In this fashion, Pipes encourages terrorism by both Palestinians and Israeli Jews. He is a true inheritor of the mantle of Kahane. Like him, he has imported into Israel a monstrous form of hate. I wouldn’t say it was exactly a foreign substance to the domestic body politic, since there were such strains even before Kahane. But he certainly exacerbated them and turned them into the equivalent of a raging pandemic of hate. Both Judeo-Nazis are a monstrous cancer on the Jewish people. If Israel were a truly democratic country it would declare Pipes and his group persona non grata. It would outlaw any political activity by it. It would also declare Im Tirzu a criminal enterprise fomenting violence and terrorism.
Instead, the Hebrew University has announced that student volunteers working for the fascist group will be given academic credit. Keep in mind that the government refuses to provide any volunteers to the workers’ rights NGO, Kav L’Oved, because of its “controversial politics.” Yet Im Tirzu is honored by Israeli academia and the country’s political class. Should you harbor any hesitation about endorsing an academic boycott, after this bastardization of academic values you should have none.
Last summer, during one of the earlier rounds of the election, an Orthodox homophobic Party also mounted huge billboards in Tel Aviv which said:
Pride and buying children or marrying your son to a woman? Israel chooses to be normal.
The municipality also removed the ad in this case, though a court later said it could not censor it. Though the ads were purchased by different groups, the overall message is that homophobia, hate and genocide appear to go hand-in-hand in contemporary Israel.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.