VIEWPOINT: Israel's merry band of Klansmen, the extreme right
An appeal to the principles of a liberal western democracy is ironic coming from an Israeli fascist.
The extreme right's instigator-in-chief, Itamar Ben-Gvir, told Haaretz this week that the decision to cancel a march planned to take place in Umm al-Fahm, Israel's second largest Arab city, was a violation of freedom of speech.
Marches of this sort are incendiary and pointless, but the worst of all, and the ones that most resemble the attempted Umm al-Fahm march, are the repeated attempts by the KKK to march through Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Illinois that not coincidentally houses a sizable community of Holocaust survivors.
In such a case, the desire to march has nothing to do with protest, or the protection of individual rights, but is rather a cynical attempt to publicly denigrate and offend the sensitivities of an entire community.
Ben-Gvir claimed a liberal, anti-right wing double-standard was at play. How else can one explain the decision to allow a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, or to allow far-left activists to hold protest marches in Hebron, while Israeli patriots such as he were barred from marching through Israel's second largest Arab city?
An appeal to the principles of a liberal western democracy is ironic coming from an Israeli fascist, much more so from one who if he and his ilk had the way would expel all Arabs from Israel, on the way to making Israel gentilerein and forever a rogue state relegated to the eventual dustbin of history.
For such people to compare themselves to those who sought to march in Jerusalem in order to express their desire to live as an equal, fully recognized community in Israel regardless of their sexual preference, would be funny if it weren't true.
Through their petition to hold such a dangerous and inciteful march Ben-Gvir and his partners in grime Baruch "let's declare a holy war against homosexuals" Marzel and Nadia Matar, bear a striking resemblance to the Ku Klux Klan, albeit wrapped in the Israeli flag instead of white sheets.
In every American city, nearly every year, a petition for a parade permit is issued by a few wayward members of the Klan, usually outnumbered 10 to one by journalists, and 500 to one by demonstrating opponents. More often than not, the Klansmen cite freedom of speech as the reason to allow the marches to proceed.
And what is it that Ben-Gvir, Marzel and their minions were hoping to accomplish? Were they looking to express the rights of Israeli Jews to live in Umm al-Fahm, or were they just looking for a podium on which they could cry foul, and say their rights were violated by a Supreme Court in the pocket of radical homosexuals?
This isn't to say that all right-wing political marches are the same. A march in Hebron supporting the rights of the Jewish enclave in the West Bank city is valid because it is a fact on the ground, a status quo that calls to be defended or fought against. A march in the Golan Heights against a peace deal in Syria would also be a valid display of the rights of Israelis to stay put in communities they founded on land that may one day be given away for a peace that could be tenuous at best. But Umm al-Fahm? What rights of Jews are being exploited there? Which Jewish community is threatened in the capital of Israel's Islamic movement?
This march, like the one in Skokie and any like it, is provocation for the sake of provocation, creating a storm because you like to watch the thunderclouds roll in.
In Israel, our Klansmen can't be laughed off or dismissed as a joke. In our democracy, they run for Knesset, control whole communities, and hold the Israel Defense Forces subject to their will on a daily basis.
Ultimately, it would be comforting if such Israeli extremists were, like the Klansmen, dinosaurs from a different era, whose marches and hatred are now becoming thankfully extinct.