Opinion

Poland Is Here - in Israel

A government that’s planning to expel 35,000 asylum seekers to the realms of death in Africa – that’s the one to fight fascism in Eastern Europe?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in south Tel Aviv, August 31, 2018
\ Moti Milrod

The time has come to admit it: Those who support the State of Israel under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are the spitting image of him, and only appear to be his opposite because of some sophisticated Photoshopping. Thus, if there’s a cast on the left arm, it will sneakily appear on the right arm after a clever Photoshop. (Deputy Minister Michael Oren didn’t realize this, and embarrassed us when, after noticing that the Tamimis’ son is filmed one day with a cast on his right arm and the next day with a cast on his left, he concluded that the Tamimi family might be fake news altogether.)

Moreover, the government, and most of the opposition as well, are the mirror image of European fascism. And so the Israeli right-wing government is the last to be able to confront fascism in Poland and Eastern Europe in general, at least morally speaking. A government that’s planning to expel 35,000 asylum-seekers to the realms of death in Africa – that’s the one to fight fascism in Eastern Europe? Is Deputy Minister Eli Ben-Dahan the one to fight fascism, after he defended the separation of Arabs and Jews on buses in the occupied territories – apartheid par excellence? Or MK Bezalel Smotrich, who asked for separate delivery rooms for Arab and Jewish mothers? Or perhaps the savior is Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who threatened to cut off the heads of his Arab opponents with an ax? And we won’t go into the Facebook status posted by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, out of consideration for the reader’s mental health.

After all, the Netanyahu government can reliably depend on the right-wing Polish government in the international arena, the way the right-wing governments of the world stand by Israel in votes at the United Nations. So the dispute here is between friends. Don’t worry, they’ll get over it. Likewise, those who are connected to Donald Trump and the messianic right in the United States can’t shed their skin suddenly and enlist to fight against the fascism that embodies anti-Semitism.

But in the opposition, too, the situation is far from inspiring. Will the fighter against fascism be Amiram Levin, Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay’s candidate for defense minister? The same person who threatened the Palestinians: “The next time we fight them they won’t remain here, we’ll throw them across the Jordan. We were too good in ’67, if they break agreements we’ll rip them apart”?

Or perhaps it will be Moshe Ya’alon, whose expansionist vision knows no limit, and for whom the border is marked “by the plowed furrow and the nursery school,” or Yair Lapid, the closest to being prime minister, who wants to shoot to kill anybody “who takes out a knife or a screwdriver.”

As long as the government and most of the opposition support the continuation of the occupation and the crushing of an entire people under fences and checkpoints, they can’t, morally at least, raise the battle flag against the fascist right.

In contrast, it’s only natural for the Arabs in Israel, together with most of the true anti-fascist forces among the Jews here, to take this task upon themselves. They are victims of denial in all areas of their life: narrative (there is no Nakba, and there’s even a law to punish anyone who marks the day); the right to land (expropriation until there won’t be room left even for a cemetery); the right to culture (Mahmoud Darwish is out); they don’t even have the right to the names of their villages (most of these names have been changed completely).

Yes, the Arabs and their democratic Jewish allies are precisely the response to the rise of Eastern European fascism. They have a plan that will lead both peoples to peace based on the UN resolutions, end the occupation and thus drain the swamps that nourish this cancerous affliction. And the struggle against the expulsion of asylum-seekers is the first light that heralds the era of the real fighters against fascism.