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July 09, 2002

Nazi Likud Regime

I've always hated the leftist equation of Israel with Nazism, since it ignored the democratic pluses of Israel and the sins of its Arab neighbors. But a just passed proposal approved by the Israeli cabinet would bar Arab Israeli citizens from owning homes on any state-owned land, which is 90% of the country. There is a chilling Nazi accent in a proposal that cites "the need to Judaize various areas across the country."
...Israeli papers such as Ha'aretz are already noting the likely international repercussions for Israel if this proposal becomes law.

Posted by Nathan at July 9, 2002 07:33 AM

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As appalling as this proposed law is, it is important to note that many prominent politicians, including Attorney General Amnon Rubinstein (no relation) and the entire Labor Party, have come out strongly against it. The only way for Israel to develop a just peace with the Palestinians, in addition to repairing what's left of its international reputation, is for these politicians to stand up against the Judeo-fascists in Likud, National Religious Party, etc. on a consistent basis, rather than reserving their anger for issues that only affect Israel proper, and not the Palestinians. The first step, of course, is for Labor to drop out of the "national unity" government. Whether this will happen any time soon, unfortunately, is highly doubtful.

Posted by: Yuval Rubinstein at July 9, 2002 04:00 PM

But the problem is that the law is in many ways just a legalization of discrimination that is already informally pervasive throughout Israel. Most of the focus on Israel's racism is focused on the Occupied Territories, but it's worth remembering that one of the mos radical aspects of the beginning of this Intifada was that mass protests occurred among Israeli Arabs - and the brutal response by Israel on its own Arab citizens was one of the reasons that the Palestinian response escalated.

Yes, Labor should have pulled out of the coalition a long time ago, but instead their presence has continued to legitimate the Sharon government's abuses. With serious discussions of "transfer" and even worse suddenly acceptable within Israeli discourse, it does look an awful lot like Weimar circa 1932.

Posted by: Nathan at July 9, 2002 04:22 PM

Nathan,
You make some good points with regards to Israel's treatment of its Arab citizens. However, it's unfortunate that you resort to invoking "Godwin's Law" so soon. Israel is most decidedly NOT like Weimer Germany, circa 1932. Their exists a loose coalition of left-wing political groups (Labor, Meretz, Shinui) that could provide an effective counterweight to the Likudniks if they finally band together. My main point is that we should not view actions such as this proposed law as representing the wishes of the Israeli government AS A WHOLE, but rather the wishes of an intolerant faction of right-wing racists. This, in my opinion, is a critical distinction.

Posted by: Yuval Rubinstein at July 9, 2002 04:33 PM

But it's not clear that if elections were held today that the Likud and a probably expanded far right would not have a clear majority- one reason Labor is terrified to provoke a crisis.

And Nazism was, to be fair, not the intent of a majority of Germans-- Hitler had been defeated, its worth remembering, the year before he seized power in an "auto-coup" against non-racists who thought they could moderate Hitler by bringing him into coalition leadership. Instead, he seized the position of power to promote even worse policies.

The shame of Israel is that they, as a democratic regime, have already imposed racist policies that it took a dictatorship to force through in Germany.

As I said at the outset, I never bought the Zionism=Racism propaganda attack on Israel, since its racism has been within the orbit of regular nationalist prejudice that is pervasive around the world. But the combination of its military brutalization of the West Bank and rising racism against its own non-Jewish citizens is moving it outside any policy regime that even "warts and all" can be considered supportable even critically.

I support a strong independent Israel in the abstract but the last year and half is making me reconsider my support in its concrete reality.

Posted by: Nathan at July 9, 2002 04:47 PM

The proposed law (now shelved) was a bad idea - but your debate over this issue is missing critical context.

1) It merely returned the law to the status quo ante before a morally correct, but legally dubious 2000 court ruling. (For more, read http://www.offthepine.blogspot.com/2002_07_07_offthepine_archive.html#78698625)

2) The old policy did not bar Arabs from living on state land - what it did was permit state land to be transferred to the Jewish Agency - which had maintained its pre-state function of settling Jews. 50 years after statehood this arrangement had become anachronistic.

3) The term Nazi is inextricably linked to genocide. There are plenty of ways to describe the serious moral flaws of lesser forms of state discrimination against ethnic minorities that do not resort to this rhetorical device. The labeling of Israeli policies as "Nazi" is wholly unjustified and is used by anti-Semites to justify treating Israelis as less than human.

Posted by: Michael Pine at July 15, 2002 04:22 PM

I'd take Michael Pine's last comment first-- which is that Nazism was more than the "Final Solution." It was a system of racial tyranny that assaulted the rights of disfavored groups - Jews, gays and the disabled - in a way that was horrendous long before Aushwitz was even opened.

It is true that Israeli has systematically discriminated against its Arab citizens for decades, one of the blots that gave credence to the "Zionism equals racism" rhetoric. But combining a new legal inscription of that policy with a military assault on the disenfranchised Occupied Territories creates a convergence of brutal racism that is more than a return to the status quo.

And there is the real spectre on the right of the Israeli parliament that is legitimately labelled Nazi-- and they were the ones pushing this legislation (and were the ones who resisted its tabling.)

I am against the casual use of labelling regimes Nazi or leaders as the "new Hitler" (something conservatives have no reluctance for in recent years), but I am also against a too easy exoticism of Nazism as if no regime has any resemblance to it. Nazism did not start in 1941-- it started with the early discriminatory laws based on legally inscribed racial categories of citizenship. Once you take that step, genocide is always an easy step since you have already defined a group of people outside full humanity with equal rights.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at July 15, 2002 04:51 PM

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