Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu yesterday welcomed the newest MK to his ruling coalition, Avichai Buaron, formerly of the religio-extremist Religious Zionism Party and now with the Likud.
Buaron is a longtime fixture in far-right Orthodox nationalist circles. He is most notorious for penning an editorial (original story reported by Udi Aloni in Ynet) a decade ago in his newsletter, Ma’ayney HaYeshuah [“Wells of Salvation”], in which he chided rabbis who refused to involve themselves in secular politics. Coincidentally, the article has been removed from the website for obvious reasons, though it is accessible on page 4 of the newsletter pdf via the Wayback Machine.
He wrote that if the rabbis refrained from entering politics, it would be impossible to create “extermination camps” for “Amalekites.” This is a code word for “Palestinians,” referring to the ancient tribe of the Biblical era which, according to the Torah, attacked the Israelites. According to the Biblical text, God commanded the latter to wipe the tribe out completely. When King Saul spared the Amalekite king after winning a battle, God vowed to punish him for disobeying (he and his son were killed in a subsequent battle). This is one of several Biblical examples of Israelite genocide against neighboring tribes.
In any other country purporting to be a democracy, such a phenomenon would never be countenanced. But the current fascist government is transgressive of every democratic norm. It now has two former Jewish terrorist ministers, a prime minister on trial for corruption, and a would-be minister convicted twice on bribery and tax evasion charges. All of these are grounds for disqualification under Israeli law. Yet here we are: they have taken a “seat of honor” in the Councils of Zion.
Not coincidentally, there are bills as part of the “judicial reform” package presented to the Knesset, which would kasher Netanyahu should he be convicted, and permit him to remain as PM; and which would permit Aryeh Deri to serve as a minister despite his own corruption convictions. This is what these Judeo-fascists call a “democracy.”
For decades, pro-Israel apologists have bristled at comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany. In fact, for many years I myself refused to make them. But clearly the time has come to abandon any reticence in this regard. This government harbors Judeo-Nazis. Their agenda for the present and future is akin to that of the German Nazis. Plain and simple.
The world must take notice. Biden must take notice. This is a government whose members favor ethnic cleansing (expelling Palestinians en masse) and even genocide. Regardless of the power of the Israel Lobby. Regardless of historical ties to Israel. Regardless of some nostalgic sense of loyalty to the country. Regardless of all that, the time has come (and way past due) to tell Israel: enough is enough! We will no longer be an accessory to your crimes. We will no longer provide the weapons you use to murder Palestinians.
Bernie Sanders and Jamaal Bowman’s letter shows the way forward. We must place strict limits on any future military aid. Not only should it not be used in violation of the laws of war, but Israeli violations of internatonal law (ie continuing Occupation and settlements) must result in further restriction on such aid. Annexation of the West Bank (also part of the government’s plans) should result in immediate suspension of all US aid.
It is heartening that Pres. Biden issued a strong and unprecedented rebuke of Netanyahu when he told him to “walk away” from his judicial coup. The president, who had previously advocated a “pause” in legislative deliberations on the far-right agenda, most recently called for abandoning it entirely. Netanyahu responded with a rebuke of his own telling Biden that nobody tells Israel what to do.
In fact, the US has done precisely that many times in the past. But privately in almost every case. This is the first time a president has taken the gloves off and done so publicly. Coming from a US leader who has been a loyal soldier for the Israel Lobby it’s almost an astonishing about-face.
As for American Jewry, it is long past due for communal leaders including rabbis and Jewish organizations to denounce this government and to place it and its members in cherem. Declare them personae non gratae: unwelcome among us in our synagogues and community centers. Visits to Israel should exclude any members of this government, including meetings with the prime minister himself. When you break bread with figures like him you become an accessory to his sordid behavior.
Returning to Buaron, he is not an outlier among Israeli Jews. An Israel Democracy Institute annual survey 33% of Israeli Jews approved of placing Israeli Palestinians in concentration camps during wartime. Though a majority (50%) opposed this idea, the fact that a large minority favored such a blatant violation of civil liberties indicates how weak democratic norms are in Israel. The only “comfort” is that these Israelis “only” favored concentration camps, rather than the death camps advocated by Buaron.
Lest any reader mistakenly determine that these views represent normative Judaism (regardless of what these Judeo-eliminatonists may claim), read this recent blog post.