Netanyahu, the godfather of modern Israeli fascism

By Marwan Bishara
ublished On 21 Dec 20

Fascism has been on the minds of Israel’s friends and foes alike since “the Jewish State” held its latest elections and its former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began negotiations to form a new coalition. Warnings about Israel “heading toward a fascist theocracy” or “sleep walking into Jewish fascism” have multiplied.

But all these warnings appear to fall on deaf ears, as Netanyahu charts a path back to the premiership in coalition with Israel’s fascist parties. He dismisses concerns over the potential demise of Israel’s democracy and its worsening reputation in the West, especially in the United States, insisting that when it comes to the future of the Jewish State, it is he, Netanyahu, who will have the last word – in Israel as in America.

That’s probably true. But it is not reassuring. It is catastrophic.

Washington has thus far remained largely silent even as several prominent American Jews spoke against the fascist menace that emerged from the Israeli ballot box. Rather than addressing concerns directly, the Biden administration spinelessly suggested that it would judge Netanyahu’s next government “based on its policies, not personalities”.

If Trump was, well, reckless, Biden is an accomplice.  As for the Arab regimes which congratulated Netanyahu for his victory, I can’t quite find an appropriate word.

But make no mistake, the problem of fascism in Israel lies less with the extremist parties that will be part of the next government and more with their enablers – Netanyahu and his chauvinistic Likud party which long strove for a Jewish state dominating both sides of the Jordan River.

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In his autobiographical monstrosity, Bibi, My Story, which is part self-aggrandisement, part propaganda and part fascist manifesto, Netanyahu dedicates a chapter to his late father, Benzion. He boasts of his record as editor of a publication aptly named Hayarden (The Jordan), and as a leading voice in the militant revisionist movement which insisted upon the Jewish right to sovereignty over the whole of historic Palestine. Revisionist fighters, who eventually founded Likud’s predecessor Herut, were infamous for their terrorist operations before and during the 1948 war of independence.

That year, a number of leading Jewish voices, including Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and others, described the Herut Party in a public statement published in the New York Times newspaper as a “political party closely akin in its organisation, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to Nazi and Fascist parties”.

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