Sound the warning bell
It is good you have founded an organization, dear intellectuals from France. Now please call upon your colleagues in Israel, and together sound the warning of the approaching ill wind.
The call by 3,000 European Jewish intellectuals to stop the automatic support of Israeli policy is of general importance, and of particular importance is the participation of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Bernard-Henri Levy and Alain Finkielkraut. At long last the penny has also dropped for them; they have defended Israel in every forum and every situation for far too long. It seems they understand that the lover’s wounds they must inflict upon us are in fact a moral imperative, in light of the danger our poor leadership is liable to cause the Jewish state.
Nonetheless, Cohn-Bendit, Levy and Finkielkraut must not content themselves with only an elegant petition calling on Israel to renew the building moratorium in East Jerusalem. As philosophers who hold a worldview based on justice, humanism and human rights, and as individuals very familiar with the history of Europe − their birthplace sodden with the blood of millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and opponents of totalitarian regimes of all stripes − a far weightier mission is incumbent upon them.
This is a painful mission, but an essential one. They must listen attentively to the voices that get heard in Israel, call them by their right names and sound the alarm against them. Take, for example, the deluge of racist bills that pass themselves off as “loyalty laws,” or the petition to declare Haaretz a terrorist organization, along with the cartoon on the B’Sheva Web site of a skullcap-wearing soldier with a knife labeled “Haaretz” stuck in his back. Then there was the violent ejection of MK Ahmed Tibi from the Knesset podium (the ejector, Likud MK Carmel Shama, explained on Channel 1 that he is fed up with the Arab MKs, who transmit secrets to the enemy), and the Nakba Law that has passed its first reading. These are just a few of the disturbing political developments.
But fascism is not a political movement, it is a prevailing mood. And the current prevailing mood is fed by a mixture of scare tactics regarding outside dangers, and wild incitement against ghosts within − labor migrants, Arabs, “leftists” and others. The fascist lexicon is seeping into every level of the public and is receiving legitimization in every arena.
Let’s look at the status of foreign workers, for example. This week the government of Israel handed out thousands of permits to employ foreign workers in agriculture, but continued to run annoying public service announcements blaming illegal foreign workers for unemployment. As if they were the sole parties responsible for Israelis’ anxieties about earning a living.
The student, the demobilized soldier and the building contractor in the ads, all three of them attractive and polite, are selling a crude lie on behalf of the government. Aside from the richest segment of the population, it is hard to find parents who wouldn’t prefer a devoted Israeli nanny for their baby, the contractors in Israel are hardly unemployed, and there are not masses of soldiers seeking work as dishwashers.
The real victims of the revolving door manufactured by the government for foreign workers are the poor, the uneducated and the Arabs − especially Arab women − who are not even talked about. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman can rest easy. His work is being done of its own accord.
The Hebrew language is also being polluted with dizzying rapidity. Zionism has been appropriated by an extremist group that excludes anyone who expresses criticism from the left; Judaism is being divvied up between the people of Mea She’arim and the Zionist ultra-Orthodox, who are prepared to spit in the face of every Arab-lover; patriotism has been purloined by Yisrael Beiteinu; and morality is in the hands of MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) and his buddies, who accuse homosexuals of “bestiality.”
It is hard to imagine that the European trio, who visit Israel frequently, do not understand what is happening here. Nevertheless, they are forgiving of their Israeli colleagues. Indeed, apart from Prof. Zeev Sternhell − one of the world’s leading experts on fascism, who insists on risking his life − no one in Israeli academia has dared to cry out, coalesce or even organize a petition.
This silence, like the Labor Party’s rubber stamp in the government and the enthusiastic plunge by Kadima MKs into the murky wave of legislation, is enabling this wild behavior to gather strength. It is good you have founded an organization, dear intellectuals from France. Now please call upon your colleagues in Israel, and together sound the warning of the approaching ill wind.