New Article: My latest piece for The New Arab, The fatal flaw of Israel’s anti-government protests, was just published today. I hope you’ll give it a read and recommend to friends and your social media platforms.
The ministers of the new Israeli fascist government represent a new breed of batshit crazy. There have, of course, been past ministers who said or did outrageous things (but only in the context of the rather genteel era in which they lived, compared to today), but never the truly insane things they’re doing and saying today.
Exhibit A for the prosecution: Diaspora Affairs minister Amichai Chikli, whose sole qualification for getting the job was that he attended a US Jewish summer camp as a teenager. Way back in the old days of Israeli politics, you had to have some actual expertise in the field you oversaw as minister. Say you were foreign minister. You had to know where the US was on the map. Or if you were the police minister, you had to have some background in security or law enforcement. Today, to be police minister you had to have been arrested 50 times by the police for inciting terrorism.
So, OK Chikli’s CV is a little thin. But at least he knows where New York is, right? Not so fast. Here is the product of his superior analysis of Diaspora Jewish life:
The LGBTQ flag has…become the flag of a new religion, of a new nation: the national religion of Progressivism with millions of faithful…If one would conduct a poll on US campuses of American students asking whether they identified more with the flag of the US or the “Progressive” flag, I’m not certain the majority would choose the US flag.
These are the Six Commandments of the Progressive religion:
There is only one truth and that is there is no truth.
The Other is me, even if he kills me.
Donald Trump is an enemy of humanity, only second to Zionism
Zionism is the enemy of humanity and the Palestinians are the most unfortunate victims in the entire universe
Infinite tolerance and acceptance of all who think like me, including ISIS
Zero tolerance for the westerners who don’t think like me
Oh, and did I mention he got his current job by abandoning the previous government coalition and causing it to fall, leading to the November election? These dirty deals are how politics are played in Israel’s “democracy.”
I gave Chikli his few moments of fame in an earlier profile here (linked above). The quotation above is a brief excerpt from the truly batshit crazy things he said about American Jews on an Israeli TV show.
I found it repulsive that Chiklis made his first pilgrimage to the Galut (Land of Sin) last week and a Who’s Who of American Jewish leaders flocked to greet him. What was said behind closed doors isn’t known. But the very secrecy that surrounds the meeting only reinforces the sense that they are abdicating any moral responsibility to warn Israel about the precipice from which its about to jump. So it’s safe to say that he didn’t get the sort of tongue-lashing he deserved. In fact, he claimed that the leadership denied there was a break between Israel and the Diaspora; and rejected the claim that Israeli democracy was in jeopardy.
Chikli has now gone even deeper down the rabbit hole, announcing in a full-length interview with Israel HaYom, the far-right Party organ also known as Bibiton, his latest damn-fool idea: creating a blacklist of US college campuses, ranking them according to their level of anti-Semitism (by which he means, criticism of Israel). This–someone will have to explain–will be helpful to someone in some unspecified way. I guess if you’re thinking of attending Anti-Semite University you might want to send precious Little Jane or Johnny elsewhere, so that s/he isn’t assaulted by Palestinian debkas during Palestine Awareness Week.
Chikli’s proof of the imminent danger of anti-Semitism on campus, is an unnamed source claiming that 65% of political science and Middle East studies faculty believe Israel is an apartheid state. I guess it’s a slam dunk. Academe is replete with raving anti-Semites in every classroom. Not to mention the students: fully one-quarter of them share the same horrifying belief.
This is Chikli’s antidote for this illness afflicting America:
We intend to publish a list of the most anti-Semitic campuses. It will be a shaming of those institutions which promote anti-Semitism, and those where Jewish students feels unsafe.
That’s it. That’s the scoop. There will be a report at some future date that will blow the lid off anti-Semitism on American campuses. And our lives will be forever changed.
Exhibit B: Galit Distel Atbaryan, Minister of ‘Propaganda’
is another charmer among the new ministers: Minister of Hasbara (variously translated as “propaganda” or, in more genteel terms, public diplomacy), Galya Distel Atbaryan. She too has been bitten by a venomous snake and is frothing at the mouth with delusional utterances. She gave an interview to Army Radio (full interview) about the anti-government protests. Her explanation for why hundreds of thousands of Israelis were protesting against her ruling coalition was very simple: they were brainwashed by sinister foreign elements. Not to mentiont that the campaign, incited by the Opposition, is funded by millions funneled from abroad. In short, a conspiracy to overthrow a democratic government and replace it with left-wing revolutionaries intent on…God knows what. But undoubtedly Minister Distal Arbatyan knows and will tell us:
…[She] claimed that the left relies on foreign funding to carry out its political activity. “Let’s not even talk about foreign funding, where the left can take the right to school,” Distal Atbaryan said.
She added: “Funding from foreign nations and actors, most [of whom are] antisemites, taking people out into the streets without them knowing that the money [bankrolling them] to protest ultimately comes from countries like Germany or Iran – that’s what’s on the left.”
The Likud minister clarified that she is “not lumping all the people marching at the protests [together]. They’re good people; my brothers and sisters. I am convinced that many of them are unaware of the truth. As much as we try to sit down for a respectful, factual debate, they refuse.”
It’s astonishing how mediocre these two individuals are. Thousands of words come forth from their mouths. All of them empty slogans rather than ideas or even credible argument. Most of the words are meant to conceal that they have nothing to say; that they don’t want to say anything that is meaningful or that responds to questions they’re asked. Probably because they’re afraid they might say something that deviates from the Party line. And when they lie they don’t even lie credibly.
That’s what separates them from the professional liars like Bibi. He actually expresses ideas and arguments. But when they are lies he knows how to couch the lies in such a way that they sound credible…or at least somewhat credible. In the Hollywood vernacular: he knows how to ‘sell’ the lie. Distal and Chikli are nowhere near that level of couth. They ought to sit at the feet of the master and learn from him the Ways of Guile.
While the rest of us engage in politics by offering facts and evidence, the Israeli fascists just make shit up. If they believed even half of what they say, I might be able to explain it away as simply delusion. But they can’t possibly. In other words, they are out-and-out liars who will say and do anything to advance fascism. In Orwell’s 1984:
The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation. These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.
The most authoritarian Israeli government in the nation’s history claims that it, and it alone can implement true democracy. So let’s call fascism democracy and democracy fascism. That’s the Israeli brand of double-think. The difference is that 1984 was a novel, and Israeli fascism is real. One Haaretz columnist is warning of a civil war. Nothing of the sort will happen. The Israeli Opposition and the current protest movement have no clear agenda. They’re against. They know more or less what they are against. But they don’t know what they are for. So they will be easily corrupted and co-opted. Netanyahu is a master at that. He’ll decide what’s the weak link–what is the least he can give up to his opponents while still retaining the most damaging elements of his agenda. He will throw the dog a bone and go rolling home to his new fascist paradise.
In short, during a civil war, both sides must be prepared to fight and die. The Israeli right is more than prepared to engage in violence. It has done so throughout the state’s existence. The Opposition will never do that. No one wants to kill anyone and certainly not be killed.
To offer another parallel: the Palestinians are willing to die, they are willing to lose their homes, and to see their children’s bodies wrapped in Palestinian flags. They are willing to die in a hail of gunfire as long as they can take Israelis with them to their death. That’s why they will never give up. Ever. They are fighting their own version of a civil war. And they can never be defeated. Nor will they permit Israel to win.