Opinion |

Zionism as a Form of Toxic Masculinity

Toxic masculinity, as in: I, as a self-decreed Alpha, can do whatever the Capital Eff I please, to whomever I please, for whatever personal benefit I can extract, with absolutely no fear of negative consequence

Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston
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A Palestinian protester moves the gun on an Israeli soldier out of his face during a protest by Palestinian, Israeli and foreign demonstrators on Road 60, in the West Bank, on May 17, 2014.
A Palestinian protester moves the gun on an Israeli soldier out of his face during a protest by Palestinian, Israeli and foreign demonstrators on Road 60, in the West Bank, on May 17, 2014. Credit: AFP
Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

There's something inside me that I can't seem to get rid of. I push it down, try to pay no attention, but still it rattles around down there, souring the system. Then, over the last miserable couple of weeks, I realized that it's time I brought this up, to the surface, and, at long last, dealt with it.

It's about Zionism. Zionism as a form of toxic masculinity.

Toxic masculinity, as in: I, as a self-decreed Alpha, can do whatever the Capital Eff I please, to whomever I please, for whatever personal benefit I can extract, with absolutely no fear of negative consequence.

As in: I should be able to badger and bludgeon anyone I please, in order to get my way, regardless of the issue, regardless of how many people it hurts, demeans, infuriates, oppresses.

Why? #BecauseZionism.

It has to do with toxic masculinity in behavior, policy, enforcement, in word and deed. In the West Bank, and in Israel proper.

It has to do with just one week, in which right-wing Israeli soldiers attacked and fought with Israeli Border Police, in an effort to forcibly release settlers the Border Police troops had arrested for throwing stones at Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

You read that right.

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It has to do with settlers pressuring cabinet ministers to attend a protest AGAINST their own government, for not acting fast enough to respond to terrorist attacks by immediately legalizing – in the vernacular, "Koshering" - thousands of settlement homes which even Israel recognizes were built illegally on Palestinian-owned land. Obedient as dogs under a threatening stick, nine ministers, one short of a cabinet majority, attended the protest,

You read that right.

All in the service of Zionism as a form of toxic masculinity – all for the sake of the new Greater Israel, where 2,000 wrongs make a right wing.

All for the sake of Zionism, which has testosteronized into a he-man, screw-everyone-but-us government of the settlers, by the settlers, for the settlers. A government deriving its just powers from the consent of the settlers. And no one else.

It has to do with overstepping – crushing underfoot - all imaginable bounds, just because you can. It has to do with Israel pressuring U.S. state and federal government to enact anti-BDS legislation, and reportedly asking German Chancellor Angela Merkel to act to cut-off German funding to organizations and institutions which Benjamin Netanyahu's office views as critical of its policies – among them, the Israeli news and commentary website +972 Magazine, and, most astonishing, the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

You read that right, too.

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It has to do with doing all that, and then saying nothing, looking the other way, when a Texas school district allegedly fires a children’s speech pathologist because she refused to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel, prompting a lawsuit over First Amendment rights.

All for the sake of a Zionism which now takes the worst, most obnoxious elements of what may be called the Israeli personality, and glorifies them, to the exclusion of what was once actually positive here.

Meet the New Zionist Man: Deputy Speaker of the Knesset Bezalel Smotrich, of the radical settler-dominated Tkuma faction of the hardline Bayit Hayehudi party.

Famed for: Having called an LGBTQ Pride march a "parade of beasts"; having urged segregation of Arabs and Jews in hospital maternity wards ("It is natural that my wife would not want to lay down next to someone who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby in another 20 years."); having said that children throwing stones at soldiers should be shot to death, and having declared, regarding Israelis, that God commanded Jews not to sell homes to Arabs.

Current claim to fame: Author of profoundly surreal legislation initially approved Sunday by the Netanyahu cabinet, which would, if passed by the Knesset, magically legalize no fewer than 65 illegal West Bank outposts, supply them with infrastructure, government services, connection to the Israel Electric Corporation power grid, and a Treasury guarantee of a mortgage for any settlers who want to build a new home where they are – as well as effective immunity from official enforcement actions like eviction and demolition.

Or meet the New Zionist Man: Yair Netanyahu, prospective Knesset Likud candidate, and the potty-mouthed, racist, girlfriend-humiliating, hormone-driven, uber-privileged, colossally arrogant sock-puppet son of the prime minister.

Watch him progress in stature and influence as he publicly advocates ethnic cleansing against millions of Muslims, promotes anti-Semitism against left-leaning Jews, swears on the witness stand like a leave-drunk sailor, and, for dessert, makes obscene gestures in a courtroom.

Watch his proud parents kvell.

Why? Cause he's a real man. Cause he's a real rightist. Cause he's Israeli and Jewish and Likud.

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Because Zionism now equals settlements. And democracy-strangling legislation. Because in order to win the favor of the crucial swing vote of racist ultra-masculine (in their own minds) neo-Kahane neo-fascists and, yes, to win the favor of the settlement movement, Israel's leaders now call for war when the military is against it.

Groveling at the feet of the far-right, beating their chests like male great apes in display, Israel's leaders now want to uproot and expel family members of terrorists - even when the Shin Bet and senior army and police officials have explicitly and repeatedly told the cabinet ministers that the expulsions are counter-productive in combating terror, and are directly in conflict with to Israel's short and long-term interests at home and abroad.

You read that right.

It's gotten so bad that the discourse of toxic masculinity now also extends to those who oppose Zionism, and who have adopted its aversion to sympathy and compassion for any of those who stand on the other side of the conflict.

So where does that leave me?

It leaves me, and an enormous number of other Jews, orphaned of a homeland, supplanted by well-meaning evangelicals and foreign anti-Semites and other Greater Israel-friendly supporters of settlements and permanent occupation and permanent Netanyahu and permanent warfare and permanent collective punishment and denial of basic rights for millions of Palestinians.

I can tell you this: If this is Zionism, I am so off the bus.

If you'll excuse me, I have some uprooting and expulsion of my own to do. Inside myself.

There may be no cure for toxic masculinity, but that's no reason to leave it to fester where it is.

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