Photo: Motti Kimchi
Breaking the Silence protest
Photo: Motti Kimchi
Ben-Dror Yemini

From freedom to enslavement

Op-ed: The incitement against Israel these days is reminiscent of the incitement against Jews in the 1930s. But there is a difference: This time, many Jews are joining the chorus of cries against the Jewish state.

We just celebrated Passover, the holiday of freedom. Democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, women’s equality, and the rule of law are the free world’s foundational principles. It seems we’ve reached the age of freedom.



But something went wrong. Freedom of speech includes the right to spread lies. The liars have become, over time, much more efficient. If you repeat a lie a thousand times, it breaks through. If thousands of intellectuals, journalists, and politicians have said over the past decade that “Israel is the main source of violence in the world” – and they have – then the free(!) world’s opinion will lean towards believing that.


Rothschild Award recipient Professor Nathan Linial recently decried Israel’s fascistic turn during his acceptance speech. That was another sad moment in Israeli discourse. His statements weren’t different from those of other members of his social strata. Sometimes it seems that if you don’t say that “Israel is fascist” you may no longer count yourself among the ranks of the enlightened.



It's easy to understand where Linial is coming from. It’s doubtful whether a day passes without the only paper he likely reads calling Israel fascist. When it has been written so many times, these are the results. And any silly statement by a minor MK turns into proof of this. After all, are there no fascists and anti-Semites in the British Parliament? Of course there are. The parliaments of Europe are filled with racist and fascist members such as George Galloway and David Ward. UKIP in Britain, the French National Front, and the Freedom Party of Austria are all bigger and more extreme than the Bayit Yehudi party in Israel.


Mosques and refugee centers are being burnt at higher rates in Europe, even in relative terms. And the Belgian prime minister, just last week, backed his interior minister after the latter said very harsh things about Muslims. The difference is that in Europe, these things are seen in their correct proportions. The press there is not slowly trickling the poisonous idea into the public’s mind that fascism has taken over the government.


And that is interesting, since Linial and his ilk, the movers and shakers, like comparing Israel to Germany of the 1930s. In Europe, it's happening as part of the campaign of anti-Semitism. In Israel, it’s done in the name of enlightenment. History is indeed repeating itself. Almost everything Nazis said of Jews in the 1930s is being said today of the Jewish State by self-professed enlightened people. Back then, it was hatred, now it’s supposedly enlightenment. Nothing has changed.



According to every objective measure, Israel is becoming more democratic, not less. The Israel Democracy Institute’s latest Democracy Index stated a few months ago that "the periodic wringing of hands, and the widespread sense that democracy here is on the decline, seem to be needlessly pessimistic when Israel is examined empirically in comparison with other countries.” And this is not an organization that would ever be suspected of belonging to the political right.


The claim that the Israeli public is responding to the Hebron shooting affair in a more nationalistic fashion than it did to the Bus 300 affair is ludicrous, as the website Presspectiva has taken care to show. But the lie wins. Ther’s no democracy in the world that harbors such unmitigated self-loathing as Israel. Justified criticism of the government, of Prime Minister Netanyahu, of controversial incidents – has turned into a generalized, racist self-loathing. When the right makes similar generalizations about Arabs, it’s racism. But generalizing about Jews is seen as enlightenment. This phenomenon is well known: It’s called anti-Semitism.


Prof. Linial, and he’s really just one case, defended the “heroic” Yuli Novak in his aforementioned speech. Novak is the executive director of Breaking the Silence, and also happens to be Linial’s niece. And that’s interesting, since Breaking the Silence has become a chief distributor of the anti-Israel poison used by the new anti-Semites. Irish MP Richard Boyd stated that Breaking the Silence's people came to speak at the Irish Parliament and told the legislators about how everything Israel does is murder. The anti-Semitic Boyd mentioned the organization’s book of testimonies, edited by Avner Gvaryahu, which has been circulating across US college campuses recently.


Avner Gvaryahu (Louise Green) (Photo: Louiz Green)
Avner Gvaryahu (Louise Green)


Gvaryahu and his friends won’t stop until there’s a new Kristallnacht. They won’t have to wait long. The applause for Gvaryahu's latest lecture, at Columbia University, came from hostile organizations such as SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) and JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace), two organization that support BDS, meaning they support Israel’s destruction. And almost every lecture by someone who wants to speak in Israel’s favor is interrupted by hooligans from the ranks of the new anti-Semites. That’s right, those same people who encourage Gvaryahu.


But Linial refuses to read the writing on the wall. He’s the son of Holocaust survivors, and he can’t understand that the venomous propaganda against the Jewish state today is a carbon copy of the anti-Jewish propaganda of the 1930s. But there is one difference: Jews did not rise to support the anti-Semitic propaganda back then. These days, Jews are at the forefront of the anti-Jewish-state hate campaign.


The dark era of academic freedom

Something bad is happening to the free academic world. Freedom is slowly eroding, being replaced by the edicts of the thought police. Any group that manages to categorize itself as oppressed is automatically supported, even if they’re a representative of the benighted. To heck with women’s repression. To heck with Hamas's calls to “Annihilate Jews, Christians, and Communists to the last one.” To heck with the fact that in the short period of time in which the US, Britain and other European countries have been operating in the Middle East, just in recent years, they’ve killed many more Muslims – mostly innocents – than Israel has killed throughout its existence. To heck with the fact that the Palestinians, for the past several decades, have rejected any peace plan that was based on a two-state solution. And to heck with the fact that Palestinians living under Israeli rule are in a much better state than other Middle East Arabs, by almost any parameter – from infant mortality, through education, to life expectancy.



All of that doesn’t matter, since the brown-red-green coalition has decided to point an accusatory finger at the Jewish entity. It is to blame for all of the world’s problems. And this coalition has spread into the mind of academic elites in the free world and in Israel. The only entity that is hatefully campaigned against on US college campuses is Israel. This is a return to the dark days. Once, it was pointed against Jew. These days, it’s pointed at the Jewish state.


Self-hatred germs

There are fascist phenomena in Israel. Where are there not? But only in Israel is there a monstrous over-blowing of errant soldier and every Facebook post. Naftali Bennett was the first minister to condemn, within hours – maybe minutes – the MK from his party who made ignorant statements about Arabs. He was the first to cry out in opposition to the mayor who announced, during a period of tensions, that he would not employ Arabs. That shall not be, said Bennett. And no – I am not one of his followers. I’ve never voted for a right-wing party (unless you consider Labor a right-wing party). But they are turning Israel into a fascist country with intolerable ease.


This isn’t new. Berl Katznelson, who didn’t ignore fascism, wrote of a Jewish strand that “Here, in the land of Israel, has been infected with self-hatred germs.” He asked, “Is there any people whose descendants have reached such mischaracterization, mental and spiritual, that all their people do, all of their creations and all of their woes, are contemptible and hated, and everything that a bitter enemy does fills their hearts with admiration and addiction?”


The years pass, the question remains.




פרסום ראשון: 04.28.16, 09:28
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