Home > Satire, Suppression of Dissent > Yediot’s Shaked: Israel can’t turn into a fascist state — it lacks a dictator — but that won’t stop it from trying

Yediot’s Shaked: Israel can’t turn into a fascist state — it lacks a dictator — but that won’t stop it from trying

Raanan Shaked, a Yediot Magazine columnist, usually sticks to bitter-sweet satires of middle class Israeli family life. The past few weeks seem to have pushed him over the edge:

When do you realize that fascism — an overused word, so let’s use it — has already finished knocking on the door and then breaking it down, and is now sitting in your country with its feet on the table and treating some of its residents as a light snack?  Perhaps when extreme right wing hooligans march down Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, curse and attack people sitting in cafés who have not done anything to them except for sitting there, as happened on Saturday two weeks ago?  Perhaps it is when MK Anastasia Michaeli takes time off between births to lunge like an irritable anaconda that has spotted a mouse in the grass at MK Hanin Zuabi in an attempt to throttle her microphone with her bare hands, and then says: “I have a right to say… she has no right to speak” — this, incidentally, being the precise definition of democracy in the Yisrael Beiteinu dictionary?

It’s a well done column and, although some readers may be baffled by all the colloquial references, worth reading in full for a sense of the current public atmosphere in Israel.

The cartoon captions (see the column for an explanation for many of them) read: (1) A Real Israeli doesn’t dodge IDF conscription! (2) I’m a deputy battalion commander in the paratroops; (3) A Real Israeli doesn’t sit in cafés on Ibn Gavirol [a Tel-Aviv boulevard]! (4) A Real Israeli doesn’t order Pixies tickets! (5) A Real Israeli is a fan of Beitar Jerusalem [football club], listens to Amir Benayun and venerates [MK] Anastasia Michaeli.

Who are you calling a fascist

Israel can’t turn into a fascist state — it lacks a dictator — but that won’t stop it from trying

Raanan Shaked, Yediot Friday Magazine, June 18 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

Limor Livnat is one of the women — all right, I take that back; Limor Livnat is one of the men currently leading the broad political movement, in which Israeli politicians get up in the morning, and before taking their current backbone out of a glass, wet their finger, hold it outside the window, see where the wind is blowing — and it is always blowing hard to the right — and then go outside to bark with everyone in the desired direction and piss on the other side’s head.

Limor Livnat is the person who initiated last week’s historical reunion performance by Rita, Sarit Hadad, Shlomo Artzi, Dana International and Eyal Golan, which is supposed to compensate me for the cancelled performances of the Pixies and Elvis Costello in Israel.  Thank you, Limor, really.  What do I need Elvis Costello and the Pixies — dangerous people who contend, apparently under the influence of drugs, that Israel is imposing a siege on Gaza — when I have the great art of Sarit Hadad, as it peaked in her song, “I’m standing in the street and my heart is wet and sweet”? What has Costello done already that Eyal Golan did not do before him, and better, including Ilanit Levy?  What have these Pixies contributed to the world that Dana International did not contribute?  Come on, you are looking at a Eurovision winner here!  Have these Pixies ever won anything in their lives except for a bloated liver?

Moreover, as someone wrote last week, and I pray to his God that he was not serious [reference to column by Hanoch Daum]: “Who needs performances in the park when people from Or Akiva win a million shekels and Marina [a star of in the Israeli version Survivor] dances in a bikini in 3-D on prime time television?”  In other words: If the world turns its back on us, at least Marina will show us her behind.

When do you wake up and realize that your bed is located in a country that you don’t recognize?  When are you awake enough to start thinking seriously about leaving, because you really don’t want to remain the last sane Jew among millions of Haredim — in black or orange; patriots — the Israeli euphemism for hotheads; and online commenters — the updated name for surplus and second-rate goods?  When do you understand that your children are more important than you, and you are incapable of placing them indifferently on the doorstep of the violent Israeli education system and waiting for them on the other side — the day of the discharge from the IDF — with the hope that there will be something left of them that you will recognize?

When do you realize that fascism — an overused word, so let’s use it — has already finished knocking on the door and then breaking it down, and is now sitting in your country with its feet on the table and treating some of its residents as a light snack?  Perhaps when extreme right wing hooligans march down Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, curse and attack people sitting in cafés who have not done anything to them except for sitting there, as happened on Saturday two weeks ago?  Perhaps it is when MK Anastasia Michaeli takes time off between births to lunge like an irritable anaconda that has spotted a mouse in the grass at MK Hanin Zuabi in an attempt to throttle her microphone with her bare hands, and then says: “I have a right to say… she has no right to speak” — this, incidentally, being the precise definition of democracy in the Yisrael Beiteinu dictionary?

Perhaps you understand what is happening around you when MK Miri Regev — a person who, on an ordinary day, will give you change from a shekel for her thoughts — states: “You see the quantity and abundance of vegetables, fruit, candy, flour and eggs — and you understand that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza”?  And perhaps you wake up finally only after a cold serving of online comments in your face: “Prostitute of Arabs, traitor, cancer”; “excellent, it will be easier to put a bullet in your head”; “look what happens to a woman who isn’t getting any” — three relatively moderate reactions to the Ynet report about Tali Fahima’s conversion to Islam.  Paper will absorb anything, but pixels will absorb and ask for seconds.

Israel is headed toward fascism.  It is always pleasant at first.  It feels united, justified, forceful, and if there are 11 roads in Israel on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel—well, we have already done something to improve the traffic situation.  In principle, and as defined by Wikipedia, fascism is a form of government that views the state as a supreme value and places the state and its welfare over the individual and his welfare.  Unlike democracy — in which the state arises in order to serve its population — in fascism, the state is more important than the individuals that comprise it and everything is permitted to it.  In layman’s terms, fascism is the thought that your home computer is more important than you, and you are supposed to serve it (a legitimate thought, incidentally, if you own a Mac).  Fascism views war as the noblest manifestation of man, and a positive expression of strength, heroism, sacrifice, power and courage.

Who is a fascist?  Perhaps Amir Benayun and media adviser Moshe Klughaft, who wrote the song of passion for war that was recorded a week ago by MKs of the opportunist variety, including Ronit Tirosh, Miri Regev, Carmel Shama and of course Anastasia Croft.  Here are a few of the lyrics: “Sleep, child, sleep, someone is awake for you, so lie down… he will also eat the combat rations… he will take arrows in the heart, in a march through the desert, only his tracks remain in the dirt, he carries you on his palms the whole time, so sleep, child, sleep.”

And when you awake, child, you too will be 18 and you will also be able to take arrows in the heart and leave tracks in the dirt while another baby sleeps and waits for his day to be killed for a new baby, and so on and so forth, forever, in the service of the cycle of war, fear and hopelessness, upon which the contemporary State of Israel has been presented.  Read this text again; it is an anthem of kitsch and death of the type that has supported more than a few regimes with poor lighting.  Read this text, and then look at your child sleeping and try to sleep yourselves.

Israel moving toward fascism is a sad country.  Its prime minister has proved consistently that he knows only one method of governing: Instilling fear and panic-mongering that are based on a true story: His own fear and panic.  I presume that when you are the son of a historian who believes that the disengagement plan is a “crime against humanity” and the husband of a woman who is convinced that her housekeeper is trying to inflict contamination on the house because she did not change clothes between rooms, you may develop a light disorder that causes you to blame Ahmadinejad even for a leaky washing machine.

In February 2009, as you may recall, Netanyahu informed us that “there has never been such an emergency, perhaps only in the War of Independence” — I assume he was referring to a temporary shortage of spray foam in stores, because the fact is that that hour passed, and we were spared once again.

Netanyahu is constantly threatened.  This causes him to constantly threaten us, and it apparently works.  Tell people enough times that unshaven Iranians with an atom bomb are standing outside their house, waiting for them to open the door—and they will start to believe that the world — worse yet, Elvis Costello — is against them, and the best thing to do is to stay at home under the army blanket and think 3-D thoughts about Marina.

“I think there are two ways in which people are controlled—first of all frighten people and secondly demoralize them,” Tony Benn, respected British MP and president of the Stop the War Coalition, explained to Michael Moore in the film “Sicko.”  “They’re poor, they’re demoralized, they’re frightened, and therefore they think perhaps the safest thing to do is to take orders and hope for the best.”

Well, this is what poor and frightened Israelis are doing today: Taking orders and hoping for the best.  They are wrong.  Because while they are doing their best in the field of obedience and survival, the proponents of fascism are taking over their streets and plenum, and while you are just standing at the stop light, you see in the cars around you more and more hateful and frightening faces of people about whom you only know that you would be glad for the light to change already.

Israel is still not there; for proper fascism you also need a dictator with unlimited powers, and a tendency to believe that the world lies in the palm of his hand, which is rapidly being clenched into a fist.  Netanyahu actually prefers the opposite approach; he believes that we lie in the world’s clenching fist, and that we are the six million of the next Holocaust.

So yes, Israel is still not fascist, it is just the mean spirit in the city streets and Internet alleyways.  And yes, the flotilla to Gaza was provocative and manipulative and had to be stopped — just not in the way it was stopped.  And yes, Hanin Zuabi is wrong — but it is her democratic right to be wrong without having her rights revoked.  And finally, yes; if the Hamas leadership were even one eighth human, one quarter peace-loving, one third seeking to benefit its electorate — it would place Gilad Shalit at the border crossing today, without asking for anything in return.

But until this fails to happen, the question is what will happen to us.

—–

  1. June 21, 2010 at 21:35

    Thanks for this post! Most of the commentary on these topics sorely lacks humor.
    Any chance of a better scan of the original? This one is just barely readable.

    • June 22, 2010 at 09:11

      Michael — I uploaded a better resolution file.

  2. June 22, 2010 at 11:43

    Thanks!

  3. June 23, 2010 at 01:10

    Good piece of opinion, sharp written and pointing at many failuresin the country – yet somehow overstated. You have tendencies. But you don’t have a whole smash and waterfall of negativity which is said to be in Israel through this posting….have you? Outleashing feagures always exist but is the whole country that “right wing” we are made to believe? Becaue Anastasia Michaeli jumps up in the Knesset? others did it, too….

    Well I “hope for the best” and stay with ciritical articles yet also my own sense of rationality. That’s what people sometimes do when they try to survive in chaos of opinions and world views….

  4. June 23, 2010 at 16:02

    Well written and well said. See Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism for details about what makes fascism tick. Both Hitler and Mussolini required external wars to make their regimes work and we have all the makings of it. Go to Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2 (2003). (available on line) for an article by Lawrence Britt on what fascist regimes share and do a local check list. It is frightening. What can we do about it? Keep shouting, demonstrating and protesting and get our grandchildren out of here. They have already had their way with the children, at least save the next generation.

  1. June 21, 2010 at 19:54
  2. June 22, 2010 at 12:10
  3. June 22, 2010 at 15:44
  4. June 23, 2010 at 22:43

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