Contributed by Jim Hayes
The Israeli prime ministers Australian Benjamin Netanyahu’s four day visit was met by protests.
Protesters supported the right of Palestinians not to be the victims of the orchestrated Israeli state violence and for a Palestinian nation. Netanyahu was branded a fascist and war criminal.
Is there substance to these charges? To answer this, we need to consider the nature of the Israeli government, Netanyahu’s role and the direction in which they are both moving. For a start, the government is a coalition of what is often described as right wing elements, sharing a hatred for Arabs and enmeshed in the Zionist establishment’s idea of Jewish racial superiority as the Chosen People. This is underlined by a commitment to maintain a state based on ethnicity, one religion and the preparedness to take the land of others for its expansion.
Uri Avnery has written: “The Nazi march to power started in 1929, when a terrible world-wide economic crisis hit Germany. A tiny, ridiculous far-right party suddenly became a political force to be reckoned with. From there it took them four years to become the largest party in the country and to take over power (though it still needed a coalition).
“I was there when it happened, a boy in a family in which politics became the main topic at the dinner table. I saw how the republic broke down, gradually, slowly, step by step. I saw our family friends hoisting the swastika flag. I saw my high school teacher raising his arm when entering the class and saying “Heil Hitler” for the first time (and then reassuring me in private that nothing had changed).
“I was the only Jew in the entire gymnasium (high school). When the hundreds of boys—all taller than I—raised their arms to sing the Nazi anthem, and I did not, they threatened to break my bones if it happened again. A few days later we left Germany for good.
“The discrimination against the Palestinians in practically all spheres of life can be compared to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany. (The oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories resembles more the treatment of the Czechs in the “protectorate” after the Munich betrayal.).
“The rain of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Some rabbis call for a boycott of Arab shops. Like then. The call “Death to the Arabs” (“Judah verrecke”?) is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospitals. A chief rabbi has declared that Goyim (non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews. Our ministers of education and culture are busy subduing the schools, theater and arts to the extreme rightist line, something known in German as Gleichschaltung. The Supreme Court, the pride of Israel, is being relentlessly attacked by the minister of justice. The Gaza Strip is a huge ghetto”
Although there are similarities between the Israeli government and the German Nazi government, Avnery and others have pointed out, there are also differences, which means that it is inaccurate to call them Nazis.
Nazism certainly played the race card and it was brutal. But this ugliness, although important, was incidental to the aim of reshaping society, in line with the Nazi vision. To the mind of its proponents, the big corporations were acting too much on self interest and coordination necessary in order to ensure the collective corporate interest dominated. The same applied to the labour force. Industrial conflict was seen as detrimental to the national interest and labour had to be disciplined. This view was put into practice through the German Labour Front, a pyramid structure, from the workplace, to local chambers, to peak national organisation. Leadership was in the hands of corporate management. The whole apparatus was closely integrated into the state.
The Labour Front, backed by the new legal and policing powers of the state were used to reshape society. Racism and the exclusion of sections of the population provided a means to mobilise Germans to accept change, as protection against imagined threat.
All brands of fascism are based on the intention to impose a corporate state. Nazism is therefore a form of fascism.
To answer the original question, is the Israel government fascist?
The history of Israel is that since its foundation, has been one where a form of corporatism played an important role in the country’s political and economic structure. Israel has shared the nexus between the state, big business and labour (through the National Labour Federation (Histadrut)). In practice, corporatism has encountered sufficient opposition to never by implemented in full. It has still had a major influence on Israeli society.
Over the years there was some weakening of this foundation, but recent times have seen a new push back to corporatism. Netanyahu is one of its leading proponents. Right now, a bid for a major change to the Basic Law is in motion, which is tantamount to changing Israel’s constitution.
Netanyahu described the proposed new law himself as a “legal anchor” to strengthen Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people”. It codifies separation of populations. The connection with corporatism is that, the application of the strengthened Basic Law requires the political and economic infrastructure to enforce it, and secures a stronger relationship with Jewish” big business and the connected union hierarchy work.
In summary, Netanyahu and his government have provided a basis on which a growing reputation for imitating the Nazis can find purchase. At the very least, they can be accurately described as fascists.