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Is Israel a Fascist State?

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Many experts agree that fascism is a mass political movement that emphasizes extreme nationalism, militarism, and the supremacy of the nation over the individual citizen. Recently, the Israeli-born Jewish musician, conductor and writer Jonathan Ofir stated that he had thought that in the past that the notion of “Judeo-Nazis” was exaggerated but now the general rhetoric and actions in Israeli society bring strong associations of the Holocaust.

For Ofir the actions of Israeli’s are a stark reminder of the way Jews were dehumanised in Nazi Germany which are not dissimilar to the way over a hundred Palestinian men and boys were kidnapped, were stripped naked and their torture justified as they are viewed as ‘human animals’ and therefore as subhuman.

The role of dehumanization had played an important role in the Nazi Era in activating the death drive resulting in the Jewish genocide. Hitler’s ultranationalism had not only viewed the Jews as a menace to society but also a threat to the Aryan race. To unify a country, fascist movements propagated extreme nationalism that often went hand in hand with militarism and racial purity.

The Israeli Haaretz editorial has recently characterised the Israeli government led by Netanyahu as racist ultranationalists for whom the spilling of Arab blood is worth nothing. For years now Israeli liberals have been hesitant to describe Israel as a fascist state, that is until recently. The Israeli Communist Party, one of the oldest left-wing parties in Israel has characterised Netanyahu’s government as the most right-wing, fascist, and racist in Israel’s history.

According to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor an urgent investigation must be opened into the Israeli army conduct during its land incursions into the Gaza Strip, including field executions, torture, abductions, the stripping naked of entire families and rape threats against women. Israel has conducted a campaign of indiscriminate bombing and the use of white phosphorous on civilians, prohibited by international law and the mass slaughter of over 21000 Palestinians, 70% of whom are women and children. In the first week Israel dropped 6000 bombs on Gaza equivalent to the US bombing of Afghanistan in one year! Within one month the number of explosions in Gaza amounted to the force and destruction of two atomic bombs. Like ISIS the Israeli state and citizens have justified this mass slaughter on fanatical religious and ethnic grounds. In the West Bank Israeli armed Settler communities have been given free license to pillage, kill Palestinians with impunity and steal land and homes from indigenous Palestinians.

Early in the war, Netanyahu invoked the Bible quoting Deuteronomy, “You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible, and we do remember, and we are fighting.” The Center for Constitutional Rights’ (CCR) in the US consequently sued Biden for being complicit in the crime of genocide as “In the Bible, God commands the extermination of Amalekite men, women, children, and animals, and this commandment is described by scholars as ‘divinely mandated genocide’. We recall that Nazi Germany which was overwhelmingly Christian had a uniquely Nazi form of Christianity which rejected Christ’s Jewish origins and the Old Testament, and portrayed “true” Christianity as a fight against Jews, with Jesus depicted as an Aryan. This meant that Nazism also represented a spiritual struggle against the Jews and Netanyahu’s fanaticism similarly perceives of a spiritual struggle against the Palestinians. On these terms genocide is permissible on religious and ethical grounds.

The Jewish Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin coined and defined the term genocide to describe the Nazi attempt to destroy the Jews in Europe. The UN adopted the definition in 1948. The UN Genocide Convention defines the crime of genocide as certain acts “committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.” These acts include “killing members of a protected group” or “causing serious bodily or mental harm” or “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” UN experts have raised the alarm that the grave violations by Israel committed against the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, point to a genocide in the making. Commenting on the scale of devastation the EU diplomat, Josep Borrell stated that the destruction proportionally in Palestine is even greater than that which Germany experienced in World War II. Israel has systematically destroyed and damaged civilian housing and infrastructure, rendering an entire city – such as Gaza City – uninhabitable for civilians. Over 50% of the housing in Gaza has been destroyed and 1.8 million people have been forcibly moved and are internally displaced inside Gaza. Furthermore, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant had ordered “a complete siege” on Gaza and that there would “be no electricity, no food, no fuel” and thus deliberately creating the “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Philippe Lazzarini has argued that the developments we are witnessing point to attempts by Israel to move Palestinians into Egypt with the decimation of northern Gaza as the first stage with next stage underway in Southern Gaza.

Despite the support of western media for Israel’s war against the Palestinians the attempts at the legitimation of mass murder have failed as world public opinion including the overwhelming majority governments at the UN assembly are standing up against Israel and the Palestinian genocide. The mask has been lifted off Israel and the fascism of the Israeli state and society. We should therefore not waste this opportunity to open dialogue and place mass pressure on our governments to adopt and lead the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

Dr Eddie Cottle

Southern Centre for Inequality Studies

Wits University