Check: Is Israel Heading For Civil War?
The culmination of Israel‘s decades-long colonial and religious conflict with the Palestinians appears to be Jewish civil unrest on the verge of civil war.
The president has warned of standing on the precipice of an abyss while prominent commentators claim that a civil war has already begun as hundreds of thousands march against the government.
The main differences between pre-1967 and post-1967 Zionism, or between the more fanatical and fascist Zionism, are at the heart of this simmering conflict.
While these two schools of Zionism have been able to put their differences aside over the past fifty years, Israel’s growing occupation and apartheid system of Jewish supremacy have given the extreme elements of Israeli society a tremendous boost.
A new governing coalition of six parties, five of which are “religious”—either ultra-Orthodox, ultra-Zionist, or both—has also been formed as a result of it.
By submitting Israel’s judiciary to its parliamentary majority, which in turn paves the way for changing its system of government, the government is one of the most extreme and racist segments of Israeli society. It is determined to turn the Jewish communitarian democracy into a fanatical Jewish autocracy.
It might be clearer if we go back in time.
Israel’s leaders have followed in the footsteps of other settler states like the United States, Canada, and Australia since its establishment as a settler colonial state in 1948 by using legal democratic processes to manage the tensions among its various immigrant communities. It was the only way to bridge the gaps between, say, the Moroccan and Russian immigrant communities or the Iraqi and Polish immigrant communities. That does not apply to Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who endured direct military rule until 1966.
The more liberal Sephardic immigrants and religious groups were at a disadvantage during that time, and the secular Ashkenazi elites who were concentrated in the Labour movement, which founded and oversaw the early settlement of Palestine, triumphed and took control of the land.
But that changed after the war in 1967. Ever since the occupation and settlement of East Jerusalem and the other newly occupied territories, messianic, fanatical, and hyper-nationalist Israelis have gained strength and momentum.
With the help of the oppressed Sephardic Jews and numerous Labour leaders who envisioned a Greater Land of Israel or complete control over all of historic Palestine, their movement first gained power in 1977.
Since then, American complicity has given the radical Israeli Right the much-needed impetus in the form of financial and military support. In recent times, fanatical Israel has become even more racist as a result of Arab and Palestinian appeasement. To protect Israel’s entrenched apartheid, the Palestinian Authority has been oppressing its people, making it necessary for Israel to survive.
In a similar vein, the willingness of autocratic Arab regimes to forgo the “land for peace” formula and accept peace and normalization with colonial Israel without any conditions has given Netanyahu and his fanatical allies the justification and justification to intensify their fanatical expansionist policies.
It was only a matter of time before the ruling fascists turned inward and tried to firmly establish their fanaticism in Israel as well as in Palestine, no matter what. This was because hundreds of thousands of settlers in hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements proliferated throughout Palestine, obfuscating the boundaries between Israel and its occupied territories.
When Itamar Ben-Gvir’s supporters carry out his call to do so, they will not only use those weapons against Palestinians—whom they despise no less—but also against secular, liberal Israelis.
This wasn’t exactly a surprise.
More than 50 years ago, the late Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, one of Israel’s foremost thinkers, predicted that the “rise of Judeo-Nazis” after the 1967 war would be fueled by racism, violence, and hatred stemming from a religious-messianic worldview fed by the occupation and settlement enterprise.
And ten years ago, the late Amos Oz, a prominent Israeli author, referred to the violent “hilltop” Jewish fanatics in the occupied territories who ardently support the current government ministers and who carry out pogroms against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as “Hebrew neo-Nazis.”
All of this raises the question of why the more secular and less fervent Israelis who are lining the streets are unable or unwilling to recognize the connection between escalating apartheid and escalating messianic fascism.
The short answer is that many people are unable and many more are unwilling. Those who are unwilling might be concerned that connecting fascism and apartheid will weaken the movement’s momentum. Those who are unable to see the connection want to continue having their cake and eating it, insisting that Israel can and must uphold its Jewish supremacy and oppressive occupation of Palestine while remaining secular, liberal, and democratic.
Based on how the Israeli parliament is made up, this last group, which has a lot of support from military leaders and business leaders, makes up most of the government’s opponents.
If Netanyahu wasn’t in charge, parties like National Unity, Yisrael Beytenu, and even Yesh Atid would have been happy to join a more secular coalition.
These parties may agree with the coalition government on legislation that would preserve some of the system’s tolerance for Jews while allowing it to continue enacting racist policies towards Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied territories.
This could resolve the conflict, put an end to the demonstration, and make things appear to be back to normal. Until then, at least. But make no mistake, the genie is out of the bottle, and the fanatics, who have risen from the periphery to the center of power and who feed on violence and war, will not relent until, no matter what, their messianic redemption is fully accomplished. Better if it’s apocalyptic.
I’m not sure where Israel will end up as a result of the escalating secular-religious conflict. However, those in the West who are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons must stop supporting Israel, a nuclear power that is becoming more and more fanatical and at war with itself.