In Israel, 'fascist' is not a rude word
The silence of Yad Vashem and other Holocaust memorial institutes to the recent rash of anti-democratic legislation is deafening.
Hillary Clinton had not yet finished voicing her concern about what is happening in Israel before that industrious Knesset member from the Likud, Danny Danon, started rattling off another version of the list of bills about loyalty to the state (which have meanwhile been dropped ): "Every certificate issued by the state will oblige [the recipient] to sign a document with a clause declaring loyalty to the State of Israel."
An explanation was offered by Arutz Sheva, the settlers' news website: No declaration - then no driver's license, no identity card, no passport. Speaking to Razi Barka'i on Army Radio, Danon explained that this was indeed not enough for - watch out! - "the total solution." Even Barka'i almost choked at the phrase.
For one optimistic moment it was possible to think that Danon does not make distinctions on the basis of religion or nationality. "There are many people who act against the State that protects them," he said. "Anyone who is not faithful to the State should not be a citizen." That is to say, even kosher Jews whose loyalty is in doubt. However, a second later he clarified his intention: "The data about crime make it clear without any doubt that the Arabs in Israel treat the laws of the country with contempt. They have much higher crime rates than any other segment of the population."
It is not important what this bill teaches us about Danon as a person - that he did not study history, for example, or that he did but he knows very well that in fascist regimes the State is above all else; or that as an experienced demagogue he knows just how close a connection there is between the level of discrimination against a certain ethnic group and the claims about crime among its members.
The media, dizzy from these bills that make Jean-Marie Le Pen and his daughter look like amateurs, has stopped noticing the difference between an old bill and an amended one. Since the current bill is targetted at Arabs, it is not causing a stir. But what about the Jewish History departments at the universities, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial institute, or the museum at Kibbutz Lohamei Hageta'ot? Their silence is no different from the general disregard of the issue, but it is deafening.
Danon's latest bill is nauseatingly similar to bills from other eras. It is dangerous to simply dismiss it with "anyway, it won't be passed." After all, the system works as follows: Someone presents a bill that mutilates some basic values. His colleagues object and then present the same bill with a different wrapping. This is a division of labor between political allies.
Every bill creates an atmosphere and makes the public more used to accepting mutilation as something legitimate. It has an immediate effect on behavior in the streets, and trains yet another new group of schoolchildren to think that the word "fascist" is not a rude word. Every bill of this kind touches the red line and the line continues to become blurred. Another few bills and the red line will be completely obliterated.
Danon's bill about loyalty, no matter how embryonic it may be, is not an exercise in Political Science. It is motivated by obvious, material interests. The bill fits in with existing official claims which present the democratic struggle for civic equality as a threat to the peace and security of "the state" - in other words, the hegemonic class, the Jews. Danon and his colleagues are constantly upgrading the conscious mechanism - racism - which seeks excuses for the privileged status that the Jewish immigrants have created for themselves, while dispossessing and discriminating against the indigenous people of this land, the Palestinians.
Racism develops in order to reinforce and expand excess rights - over ownership of the land (which was, and is still being, stolen from the Palestinians ), higher water consumption, high-quality construction, allowances from the state revenue, social services, chances of finding work and studies, and salary gaps. That is why a bill of this kind stands a good chance. The Jews will profit from it.