Israel's racist mass movement
The "master-race democracy" protests in Tel Aviv do not deserve our support.
For the last few months, tens of thousands of Israelis have flooded into the streets of Tel Aviv and other locales, carrying out regular protests against the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and his ultra-right coalition are pushing forward with a series of reforms to the judicial system, giving the government increased say over appointments to the Supreme Court, potentially anointing parliament the ability to override the court’s rulings.
Waving Israeli flags and deploying the slogan “Defend Israeli Democracy,” the liberal Zionist protesters have called on the government to reverse their plans, saying they will usher in a new “dictatorship” in the country.
But such formulations ignore the fact that, for the Palestinians, who are now, once again, the majority population in historic Palestine (which includes present-day Israel) Israel has always been a racist military dictatorship.
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Indeed, the recent crimes of the Israeli government are nothing new. The deadly pogrom carried out by Israeli settlers and soldiers in the West Bank Palestinian town of Huwarra recently were a graphic example of what Israel stands for: racial supremacy and violence.
But as Maureen Murphy, my colleague over at The Electronic Intifada, explained in a brilliant recent article of hers, this pogrom was in no way an aberration for Zionism. Rather it was “the logical conclusion of Israel’s supremacist ideology.”
Who inserted the settlers into the West Bank in the first place? It was not the Likud, who did not come into power until 1977.
By that time, supposedly left-wing labor Zionist governments had already moved 50,000 Jewish colonists into East Jerusalem, to shore up their invasion and de facto annexation of the city in 1967. They built 30 Jewish settler-colonies in the West Bank and four in the Gaza Strip. Naturally, Palestinians were barred from living in these colonies, by both law and practice.
This was all done by the labor and liberal Zionists — the same political forces driving the current protests in Tel Aviv.
And let’s go back two decades further, to 1948. This was the key year marking Israel’s worst crime against the Palestinian people: the Nakba, their mass expulsion by the Zionist militias which then went on to make up the new Israeli army.
It was not the Likud who masterminded that systematic ethnic cleansing campaign, driving out 800,000 Palestinians at the barrel of a gun, under threat of massacre and rape (although future Likud politicians were certainly participated, as members of the Irgun and Lehi terrorist groups). The Nakba was led by the labor Zionists — the same people who for decades were indulged and praised by the Western left as “socialists”.
This is the legacy and current reality of the Israel “left” and liberal Zionism — colonialism, massacre and perpetual war to rid their mythical biblical “homeland” of the non-Jewish indigenous majority and preserve their Jewish colonial privileges in the land of Palestine.
It is for the preservation of those same colonial privileges that those tens of thousands of Israelis in Tel Aviv are, in fact, protesting.
As Colombia University’s professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history Joseph Massad puts it in his most recent article, both the Israeli right and the Israeli “left” alike
falsely claim that Israel had been democratic before Netanyahu when, in fact, it has always been nothing more than a predatory settler colony based on laws that grant racial and colonial privileges to Jewish colonists who live in a master-race democracy … The fact that the very rights these protesters enjoy and which they fear losing have always been based on the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people, exposes their protest movement as one that decidedly seeks to preserve not democracy, but master-race democracy.
Anyone who doubts this needs look no further than a video tweeted earlier this week by popular Israeli journalist Ben Caspit. The author of two books about Netanyahu, Caspit is a far-right anti-Palestinian racist(i.e. he is mainstream in Israel). But he also has personal grievances against Netanyahu which lead him to oppose the prime minister on narrow terms. This context explains the supportive tone in Caspit’s video in favour of the protesters.
Yet the content of the video explains a lot about why the Israeli protesters should not be supported by anyone calling themselves a socialist, a progressive or even just a decent human being.
The video shows Israeli protesters standing outside a hotel calling for support from AIPAC, the most influential and richest US pro-Israel lobby group. A delegation from the lobby was staying in the hotel this week, ahead of a meeting with Netanyahu.
Speaking in English, one of the protesters says to camera: “AIPAC you’ve supported Israel through all our wars. This is the war for Israel’s future.”
Several commentators on Twitter accused the Israelis in the video of not understanding AIPAC, which has a long record of supporting Israel no matter what crimes it carries out. But such commentary in my view misses the point.
It strikes me that the Israelis in the video do understand AIPAC’s role: to support Israel “through all our wars” and all the countless massacres of Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians and other Arabs they have perpetrated across the entire region.
The protesters are calling for AIPAC’s help in preserving Israel’s “Jewish democracy”: in other words, they are calling for their colonial privileges to be maintained.
It is for the exact same reason that other Western pro-Israel lobbyists have supported the protests, including notorious Zionists such as Margaret Hodge and the Jewish Labour Movement.
The Western left is still far too clueless about the reality of Israel. “Radical” liberals in the West like to spout off with tokenistic plans for “decolonisation” at every turn — just so long as colonial privileges for Euro-Americans are not actually threatened in any concrete fashion.
Some Western socialists have called for these settler-colonial protests in Tel Aviv to be supported. The tiny Socialist Party even attended Margaret Hodge’s “Defend Israeli Democracy” protest in London this week, where they said they were “warmly welcomed.”
While the political cluelessness of irrelevant Trotskyite sects should surprise no-one, more disappointing was a woeful editorial in the Morning Star last month.
Although the communist paper did accurately note that, “For many Palestinians and their supporters internationally, the notion of Israeli democracy is already a joke,” the editorial bizarrely went onto claim that that the “struggle” of the master-race-democracy protestors “deserves support”.
For good measure it went onto chide those who describe Israel as a fascist state — conveniently ignoring the fact that, for the colonised, European colonies and settler-colonies have always been indistinguishable from fascism.
It’s inconceivable that the Morning Star would support a protest movement dominated by the Confederate flag. But to Palestinians, the racial hatred represented by the Israeli and Confederate flags is the same thing.
What does deserve our support is the Palestinian liberation struggle — including the brave armed insurrection that has broken out recently.
That is the true meaning of decolonisation.
In 2021, Caspit and his fellow radio talk show host Yinon Magal used their show to incite violence and a new Nakba against Palestinian citizens of Israel in Lydda, a Palestinian town in present-day Israel. “We should fuck the mother of your mothers,” Caspit spat at a Palestinian religious leader who had phoned into his show to call for calm and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in the city. There had been a pogrom against Palestinians there organised by mobs of Israelis organising via WhatsApp and Telegram groups titled things like “Fucking the Arabs,” in which the mobs formulated their genocidal plans: “We are no longer Jews today. Today we are Nazis.”