Opinion

A Right Winger’s Moment of Glory

U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017.
Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

A right-wing activist was forced to pause while tapping out a hate comment against Arabs following the Halle gun attack in Germany. He had already written more than a line about the piles of garbage Angela Merkel had stupidly let into her country, and suddenly – what a bummer – a jolt of reality struck when it turned out the perpetrator was a different kind of murderer – a member of the majority in the state, a nationalist, racist minority-hater. Does that sound familiar from somewhere?

The activist supporter had been in a state of confusion these past days, anyway. What will he do with the sukkah he had planned to build in the thriving settlement of Trump Heights in the Golan Heights? After all, Donald Trump, the hero of Israel, who had pledged in his speech in Israel that in the “Donald J. Trump era Israeli children won’t run to shelters,” is fleeing from the Middle East while handing north Syria to anti-Semitic despot Recep Tayyip Erdogan and serving him the Kurds on a golden platter.

In his arguments, which always manage to sink lower than ever, Trump complained that the Kurds hadn’t helped the United States in the invasion of Normandy. As a result, instead of the sukkah in the Golan, the activist sees a new image: the Kurd fleeing from their homes with terrified eyes, barely carrying their meager belongings and poor children in their arms. Where will they go? How will they survive? God only knows.

Not that any disillusionment is expected. It’s difficult, even impossible to kick the habit of the comforting familiar taste of racism and its simplistic assumptions, those addictive sweets the right wing provides to the masses. In reality, that is, in life itself, not in the fake sphere of pompous gestures, hollow slogans and Muslim-hating brotherhood – right-wing leaders all over the world are turning out to be dangerous to Israel and the Jews. In every corner where populist right has blossomed it has created or bolstered the same xenophobia that is directed against the Jews as well. The egocentric separatism it fosters, in the case of America, leads to the abandonment of the most painful areas in the world, such as the Middle East, to anti-democratic bullies like Erdogan, Vladimir Putin and the fundamentalist regime in Iran.

Trump’s case exemplifies beautifully the materials nurturing the Israeli right-wing activist: the worship of power and bullying, mostly due to individual weakness and feelings of inferiority; his susceptibility to populist, hollow rhetoric, which legitimizes superficiality, ignorance and the spread of half and quarter truths. He is excited by ceremonial gestures, which offer patriotic kitsch as a substitute for commitment with real substance, and is ready to follow every Muslim hater as though he carries some revelation, only because he dares to express opinions that civilized people are usually ashamed to even think about.

Trump is seen by many here as a manly man, one who says “the truth” uninhibitedly. His impulsive tweets give every ignoramus a carte blanche to be king. His thuggish behavior is idolized. Some of his moves in the region – from the dramatic withdrawal from the nuclear agreement to transferring the embassy to Jerusalem – were regarded as rare pro-Israeli gestures.

In reality, the Trump-era United States is imploding, headed by a corrupt clown, whose clinical diagnosis I leave to the experts. Iran has learned that it will get much more if it dares to do whatever it feels like, so it is blatantly provoking Saudi Arabia, knowing full well the man with the big mouth in the White House won’t do a thing, because he only talks and talks. Anti-Semitism in the United States and Europe is on the rise and we’ve already mentioned the new disaster taking place in Syria. But don’t bother the right-wing activist with this kind of trivia. He is busy waging war against real enemies: Liat Ben Ari from the State Prosecutor’s office, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber and former deputy chief of staff Yair Golan, now a Knesset member. These are the ones who really jeopardize him. Against them he’s a hero.