Not a day passes without somebody, in some form or other, implying, or even confidently stating, that Israel is sliding into fascism or its particular form, Nazism. Politicians, journalists, activists, and just the man-in-the-street will play the fascism card whenever it suits their purpose.



Fascism has many aspects and a quick look through the internet will make clear that even the experts cannot agree on a clear definition of what fascism really is. Most of them will agree that Mussolini coined the term through the name of the organization he founded, but beyond that, things get complicated.

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But still, a number of characteristics can be found in most analyses of the phenomenon, both the of ones in history as well as of the (alleged) ones in the present and of the (feared) ones, in the future.



These are just some of them1:

1.       Nationalism. The use of nationalist symbols and slogans and songs

2.       Obsession with National Security. The use of fear as a unifying force

3.       Supremacy of the Military

4.       Religion as a tool in controlling and unifying the masses

5.       Selective use of Human Rights. An “Us and Them” behavior

6.       Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts

7.       Corruption

There are more, but not all are generally accepted and others are minor, when compared to these seven characteristics.

So let’s look at Israel today, are we a fascist nation today?

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made fear the hallmark of his long reign in the Israeli political arena.

We will never really know what Iran’s real intention were. Is it realistic to assume they would attack Israel and destroy us, as they said more than once? Anyone in Israeli politics should know that rhetoric is one thing, action another and most of the time the latter does not follow the former. However, in the case of Iran, it doesn’t matter anymore. With our Prime Minister repeating at every possible opportunity how much we are in danger, the Israelis did indeed get scared, and, since the fear mongering always went hand-in-hand with the statements that only Netanyahu could save us from this disaster, the desired effect was achieved: instilling fear gets you (or keeps you) in power.

Similar scary scenarios were made by Netanyahu with respect to our economy and fear of becoming like Greece and Spain and Portugal proved sufficient to have him have his way.

 

Netanyahu and his government survives because he manages to scare us.

Our Culture minister, Ms. Miri Regev, threatens cultural institutions with sanctions (most of them financial ones) if anything “inappropriate” (according to Ministry guidelines) is shown or performed, and not performing in the Occupied Territories as a protest against this occupation will result in the same sanctions. Again, threats work. And an additional benefit of these threats is self-censorship. Curators and Theater managers will now think twice before anything provocative is displayed.

Miri Regev tramples on artistic freedom and uses threats to keep artists in line.

 

Ms. Regev also forced a bikini-clad performer off the stage at an event in Ashkelon last summer, in deference to sensitivity of religious people.  

The prominence of religion and its use as a political tool does not need much elaboration here. Anybody who is not completely blind will see the cynical misuse of religious values by people with agendas of control, almost on a daily basis.

From an event in a Tel Aviv Square, where no female performers were invited so as not to “hurt” religious sensibilities (the event was cancelled after protests) to ceremonies in the Israeli Army, where female performers are banned for the same reason, or alternatively, religious soldiers are allowed to leave the event if a woman soldier will perform, religion is being used as a “symbol of unity”. “We are all Jews” is a great slogan to justify so many interferences with our daily lives and get away with it.  And even if coalition considerations are behind some of these religious infractions, it serves our leaders very well because it “unifies” the people behind a common goal.

And how are we on Human Rights?  This depends………. Are you Jewish?

A quick look at events in the Occupied Territories over the past year clearly shows there are two measuring units for human rights violations. Palestinians suspected or caught in terrorist acts are “neutralized”. They are not being killed or arrested or apprehended, they are NEUTRALIZED. Like you turn off a light switch when you don’t need the light anymore or it bothers you. In some cases it is not even clear if “neutralizing” was necessary or justified, but who cares? I am not in a position to dispute actions by security personnel but great efforts are exerted to dehumanize the results of these actions. If you neutralize instead of kill it doesn’t sound as bad, does it.

And it helps to convince the public that neutralizing is allowed no matter what. (Anybody remembers we are talking about human beings?).

Corruption has always been present in Israel but today it has become a national sport of public figures. From the Prime Minister to the Chief Rabbi, there appear to be no limits on what you can get away with (or at least try) and that is after we already have a Prime Minister and a Finance Minister in jail and a current minister who spent several years behind bars.

 

I could go on and on but I think the above is pretty clear as is.  And I didn’t yet talk about the FLAG!

 

So, are we fascists or are we not.

It really doesn’t matter what we call it. Our behavior as a nation and as a people has reached an all-time low from which it will take time to recover.

When will we look at ourselves in the mirror and stop liking what we see?

Fascism is not a grassroots movement, it doesn’t start just like that. It is orchestrated from above, by our leaders and would-be leaders, for whatever reason they may have, and they will use rhetoric and fear for the unknown as tools to turn us into a common mass running the way they want to. Are we going to stop them at some point?

Nationalism is always part of this process because the lowest common denominator under which it is possible to "unite the people” and root out individualism is "THE NATION" and in our case "THE PEOPLE".  

From there to racism and a feeling of superiority is only a matter of time and this process is fed by the fear that is kept alive by the leaders.

But Fascism and racism take root quickly and deeply, especially since it is perceived as enormously beneficial being a strong unity, of belonging to a superior entity.

It is very, very difficult to stop or root out once it has taken hold but all examples that history provides, show the disastrous violent end of episodes like this.

We can take heart from the fact that also Germany recovered after WW2 but do we really want to let it go that far?

1.                This list is taken from an article by Dr. Lawrence Britt (http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm); however, similar arguments may be found at other sites discussing fascism, with mostly minor variations.


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