Opinion |

Anti-fascist Israelis Have Two Choices: Fight or Flee

yossi klein
Yossi Klein
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yossi klein
Yossi Klein

The day that celebrates Jerusalem’s unification is a lie, and Jerusalem is the symbol of the lie. It is a symbol of separation and divisiveness. A symbol of a whose sanctity does not purify its streets from dirt and its inhabitants from poverty and misery. The unified Jerusalem, the city that is “compact together” holds up a mirror to us. That’s what we’re like, on the brink of the abyss. Those who stand there have no choice but to say the mirror is lying.

The mirror isn’t lying; we are living in a lie. We are skipping between lies and repression, between sham and obliviousness. You don’t need quotation marks to show how baseless the concepts are that we have invented. Yes, sure, we say. United Jerusalem? The most moral army in the world? Certainly! And also: “We want peace.”

The lie is addictive. It turns the persecutors into the persecuted. The unfortunate persecuted ones ask why they are allowed to fly flags in Be’er Sheva, and we’re not allowed at Damascus Gate? It’s a dissembling question, intentionally infantile, the essence of the lie and the hypocrisy. Even the person who asks that question knows there’s no symmetry, that the occupied ones will do anything to free their necks from the knee of the occupier, because they can’t breathe.

Credit: Eran Wolkowski

The lie also has a message. Not for the Palestinians; they don’t need a message. Arrests, roadblocks, beatings of the elderly are more a message of efficient governance than flags. The message is for us. The march is against us. Watch out, the marchers said, we rule the streets, the Knesset and the government. Three thousand cops worked for us to protect the march, and you weren’t allowed to go near Homesh.

Let’s not kid ourselves: We won’t have a minute of quiet with them. Flag marches and sacrificial processions and torchlight demonstrations – it’ll all come down on our heads. Don’t build on the future – the future is theirs. They’ll always be here. They’ll always find something to lose hope in, to enmesh us in a religious war, although their Judaism is not our Judaism. They ask: You wanted to separate? To hide out in Tel Aviv? Forget about it; we’re conjoined twins, stuck to you like gum on a shoe.

Every fascism has a color. It used to be brown; now it’s white. The white of Itamar Ben-Gvir will replace the yellow of Kahane. The white shirts are everywhere. They’re the rabbis, the disenfranchised inciters, the commentators in the studios. They’re in the Knesset, on TV, in the army and the police. They have official positions, ranks and batons.

The time of curses is behind us; violence is ahead. First fists, then bullets. Violence is revving up its engines on social media, it gets its marching orders in the Knesset. The mob is waiting for an order. There’s no fascism without a mob; it’s the mob that will get its hands dirty. Bezalel Smotrich’s shirt, that of the racist Torah doctrine, will remain pristine, and so will that of Ben-Gvir, the chief operating jester, and of Miri “The Megaphone” Regev. The mob is listening. Violence unites it, flags inflame it, it knows that the government is afraid of it. It pays close attention. Tell it who the traitor is, and it will know immediately what to do.

And what do we see? Nothing; that is, we see and deny, we see and repress. We aren’t stuck; on the contrary, we’re advancing, and we’re already at stage 4. Democracy is behind us; it has done its bit, it can go home. The mob is already there, in the living room, on television. If it doesn’t need democracy anymore; democracy will be cast out with the weak and the unfortunate. We’ve gotten to the edge of the abyss. But only when we reach it will we see it. Only right on the edge can we look back and say: Oh, what a pity. We knew we were close, but not that close. Too late.

Ninety-four years ago the brown shirts won far less in an election than what the white shirts got in our last election. “… as the prophecy foretold, the barbarians came / and took the keys to the city from the king’s hand. / But when they came they donned the garments of the land, / and their customs were the customs of the state; / and when they commanded us in our own tongue / we no longer knew when / the barbarians had come to us.”

They’re already here. They are the protégés. The lords. What wretchedness and misery there is in a prime minister who after 56 years of occupation needs a procession of barbarians in white shirts to declare, “We have restored our sovereignty.”

We hear and we see them. The smart and talented young people also see; they also see the direction. And they’re still here. I don’t understand why they go like sheep to the slaughter. They could still change direction, find another way. Fight for it – or flee. That’s the choice.

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