Opinion

Israel Learns There’s No Such Thing as Made-to-order Fascism

Racism, hatred and incitement against minorities will ultimately include racism, hatred and incitement against Jews. This is terrible news for Israel’s fascists

White House spokesman Sean Spicer's 'Holocaust centers.'
Amos Biderman

It happened faster than expected. In a show of poetic and historical justice, the Israeli right wing’s unholy alliance with its brothers and sisters beyond the seas is collapsing thunderously. The stitches holding it together didn’t suffice.

The White House spokesman announced that Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” then mumbled something about “Holocaust centers.” Jewish gravestones are being smashed, and the deep American right is already accusing Donald Trump’s Jewish daughter and son-in-law of being responsible for America’s missile attack on Syria and the ouster of Steve Bannon from the National Security Council.

It’s like a latter-day “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” For the first time in eight years, the president didn’t attend the Passover seder at the White House. Welcome to the real world.

History repeats. Jews can’t ride the tiger of global fascism for long, not because they’re a chosen people; they’re not. It’s because Jews have always been the object of global fascism’s hatred and incitement. Journalist and historian Abba Ahimeir and right-wing leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky flirted with fascism in the early 1930s until they got burned and understood the nature of the Nazi regime. The same thing is going to happen to all the Naftali Bennetts and Benjamin Netanyahus.

Right now they’re at the stage of mortification. Their silence is deafening.

This is a huge embarrassment. For years the Israeli tea party has been having hot and heavy relations with the new American right. Nowhere outside America did so many ostentatiously use the name Barack Hussein Obama. They had a shared interest: to trip up the demon liberal left. Ahimeir, Jabotinsky and Yair Stern adored the European right, which embodied the fight against the satanic Bolsheviks, and loathed the British.

But interests like that are short-lived, and the truth will inevitably come out. There’s no such thing as made-to-order fascism. Racism, hatred and incitement against minorities will ultimately include racism, hatred and incitement against Jews.

This is terrible news for Israel’s fascists. To their astonishment, they realize they’re being hounded by their Jewish exile past. They can’t shake it.

To them, Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel was supposed to be a clean new leaf, proud Jewish nationalism, free of the “auto-anti-Semitism” syndrome usually associated with left-wingers. When Dennis Ross and Yossi Beilin tried to mediate peace agreements under American sponsorship, they called them “Jewboys.” They named their ugly flagship program on Channel 20 the “Heritage Channel,” that bastion of Jewish nationalism “The Patriots.”

But the truth is, the real Jewish heritage is to function as an object of loathing for fascism and populism. So anybody here who whooped at the election of an American president borne on the wings of fascism and populism is a moron, a cynic or an illiterate.

Apropos illiterates, Prof. Idith Zertal has explained that belittling the Holocaust is just another form of Holocaust denial. This also applies to White House spokesman Sean Spicer and Netanyahu himself. In Spicer’s case, there’s at least a grain of historical truth: Hitler didn’t not use chemical weapons on the battlefield, maybe because of his personal trauma in World War I. Hitler reserved Zyklon B for the gas chambers in the death camps. And ultimately the most brutal means of mass destruction was used by the Americans at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the case of Netanyahu, who recently claimed that the Palestinian mufti was the one who concocted the Final Solution for the destruction of the Jews, the contempt isn’t born of ignorance but of boundless cynicism. It will be interesting to see whether Israeli and American Jews will hear his voice on the topic, or if they’ll have to settle for a clarification initiated by his master, Sheldon Adelson, with the White House spokesman.