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Will Anyone Dare Say Right-wing Jerusalem March Doesn't Represent Judaism?

Asaf Danieli
Assaf Danieli
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Israelis dance and sing while they hold national flags by Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem's Old city, on Sunday.
Israelis dance and sing while they hold national flags by Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem's Old city, on Sunday.Credit: REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun
Asaf Danieli
Assaf Danieli

In social media posts from right-wingers in the Knesset and the media, before and after the Flag March, there’s stiff competition between expressions of pure love for Jerusalem and loathing of the coalition of terror supporters.

The notable absence of one message from the passionate photos with the flag, dancing, praise for God and hatred for the government illustrates the moral abyss in which the right is buried, the cowardice of its members against a handful of Palestinians and also the secret wish, unmet, for the march to ignite an explosion that would return them to power.

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Even assuming that most of the marchers had pure intentions, everyone, from Itamar Ben-Gvir to Benjamin Netanyahu knew the event was fertile ground for racism, violence and hate. Yet none of them, statesmanlike or extremist, bothered to ask their voters and followers to celebrate quietly, to avoid scenes that would “give our enemies ammunition,” to respect locals’ property and not to sing songs wishing death on the people under whose windows they marched in a show of ownership.

During and after the march, none of the people who were shocked by every inflatable genital at the Balfour Street protests, Palestinian flag on campus or Arab in an M16 T-shirts had the courage to tell his camp’s margins the obvious: People who kick old women, pepper-spray passersby with cameras, shout “death to Arabs” and desecrate the flag by beating people with its pole are a mark of Cain on the state. The bloc’s self-declared, clueless future leader, Yisrael Katz, modeled Tuesday morning how to close one’s eyes and grovel: “The blue and white flags in Jerusalem yesterday, versus the black flags at the protests. Love of Israel and Zionism, versus hatred and factionalism. What a difference,” he tweeted.

Their disregard and silence in the face of the horrific sights and sounds is equal to support, and they have winked and nodded for years. They can always dig up an archival quote to wave to prove they oppose violence, while fueling hatred and tarring opponents as traitors. Just as Netanyahu always has a video of saying “Rabin isn’t a traitor, he’s just wrong,” as if the voices in the squares appeared ex nihilo. This week, even the pretense vanished.

Would warnings before or censure after have changed anything in this annual show of insult? Probably not. But they would have marked the bounds of legitimate speech and action, made it clear that there are principles to follow and that violence and racism are intolerable, even at the cost of losing votes.

In the past year, politicians, media figures and rabbis have been mobilized for toxic propaganda, unbridled and spiced with Bible verses to emphasize their Judaism versus the government’s Arabness, their loyalty versus the government’s treachery. No sentence is too shameful or ridiculous for them. If this government of capitulation to terror, of bribing the Arabs and destroying Judaism ends its term without another terror attack, it will be seen as proof that the Palestinians wish it well, just as Likud and Netanyahu tweeted after the march, with some disappointment, that the quiet in Gaza is merely a sign of Hamas’ love for the government that includes Mansour Abbas.

In the absence of a responsible adult, it’s worth recalling, in the Knesset or in synagogue, Yitzhak Rabin’s words after Baruch Goldstein’s massacre in Hebron, instead of pointing at the other side, instead of embracing the rioters: “This murderer emerged from a small political framework. He sprung up and grew in a swamp whose spiritual sources are abroad and here; they are foreign to Judaism, they are not ours. To him and his ilk we say: you are not part of the community of Israel. You are not part of the national democratic camp in which we are all partners, and many of the people despise you. You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant, an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law. You are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.”

Unfortunately, this political framework is no longer small. One of its members murdered Rabin, its quintessential representative was embraced warmly Sunday and guaranteed a place of honor in the next government, and its leader will stop at nothing to return to power.

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