With the rise of the religious right-wing in Israel, the occupation is transformed from a political issue into a biblical one.
It seems that before Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon leaves the organization, he wants his name to go down in history – specifically, in Middle East history and in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
I didn't expect Ki-moon’s statement on the right of Palestinians to resist Israel’s occupation to affect people in the Jewish state so deeply. I'm not referring here to the government's response to his words (which was to attack the secretary general and refute his statement), but to Israeli politicians’ sense that his speech necessitated a sort of “review” of Israeli policy.
The policy review takes place against the backdrop of the April 2015 Knesset elections, the results of which led to Netanyahu's fourth government. The elections were not a political evolution or a coup – they were an ideological achievement. The elections created the most right-wing government in Israeli's history and put into motion serious intellectual, ideological, and social consequences for public opinion.
The elections resulted in a remapping of what is “constitutional” and why. Under this new government, the basis of these determinations is informed by the most extreme biblical Judaism and, mostly dangerously, the replacement of Israeli democratic values and constitutional frameworks with a biblically-based sense of identity.
Soon there will be legislation based on the vision of Naftali Bennett and the settlers' council on “greater Israel” and hatred of Arabs. Uri Savir notes in the Hebrew-language daily Ma’ariv that this vision is no longer just a wish or a dream, but is quickly being turned into a reality.
Imposing discriminatory legislation, in this paradigm, is presented as a moral question, rather than a political tool for uprooting and colonizing. The occupation of Palestinians is no longer about political desires, but biblical and religious values. This framework leaves no space for political dealings, only politics that legitimize the rule of rabbis in accordance with the Torah. Those who do not fully believe in the “land of Israel” realized through Israeli settlements, annexation and Judaisation, is an “infidel,” and not only for committing a political offense!
In defense of his idea, Savir notes that history does not tolerate the occupation of another people; colonialism has died, meaning that the fate of an independent Palestine would be similar to the fate of Algeria and Vietnam. In the end popular resistance will always overcome military power, whereas Israeli society will be defeated by the vision of Netanyahu, Bennett and Regev!
Iris Leal writes in Haaretz that the Jewish state is moving toward fascism. This assessment is not based specifically on Ban Ki-moon's statements, but was perhaps inspired by them as well as the proposed Israeli legislation targeting leftists in Israel.
Leal’s assessment, however, is based on statements by hardened right-winger Member of Knesset Benny Begin, who claimed “we are on the verge of a new peak of ugliness.” Begin recently called-out “fascism” in Israeli society and demanded an investigation into how it took root and who cultivated it. Here, his emphasis was not on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but on internal Israeli issues. However, the fascist state cannot absolve itself of its policies toward others, especially when it is occupying the land of another people.
This review ignores the attack against Israeli leftists even prior to the extreme right's arrival to power. Moreover, we must examine opposition leader Isaac Herzog’s comments on the impossibility of a two-state solution; this reflects not only the weakness of the so-called left in Israel, but also the possibility that the Zionist Camp will join the government of the religious far-right.
The relentless move toward further racism and fascism in Israel comes against the backdrop of the social and political coups in the region, dominated by issues related to terrorism and refugees. Though these shifts in Israel may seem quieter and less chaotic than the Middle East’s other evolutions, this may be a real coup in the Arab region!