The new government established by Netanyahu and his extremist national-religious partners Ben-Gvir and Smotrich does not represent a divergence from the values of Zionism, but rather their direct continuation.
True, the government sworn in today appears particularly reactionary, even by Israeli standards. It will be bad for women, for LGBTs, for the impoversihed, for Mizrahim, for asylum seekers and migrant workers, and even for liberal secular Jews. But above all else, this government, just like its predecessors, will continue trampling, oppressing and dispossessing the Palestinian people. We all must realize that it is impossible to justify this ongoing oppression using the debunked “security” rationale and still call ourselves a democracy.
We must look at the causes for the rise of politicians such as Ben-Gvir and Smotrich and realize that the growing power of the Jewish supremacist militias is not an historical aberration or an unfortunate accident (Betriebsunfall in German historiography), but as rooted deeply in Zionist ideology, from its very beginnings. It is no coincidence that some leaders in the Kibbutz Movement view this government as an “opportunity”, since it essentially promotes the same separatist, colonialist ideology.
A racist regime born in sin – the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, the destructions of hundreds of villages and huge environmental damage – a regime that has also oppressed the victorious Jewish society by subjugating and discriminating against non-European Jews, one that sanctifies all things military, and kills Palestinians on an almost daily basis can provide only an illusion of progress or liberalism. The concept of Jewish supremacism that is fundamental to the very definition of Israel as a Jewish State is the ladder on which Ben-Gvir and his likes climb to political power.
Perhaps now, when it seems that the danger looms over larger groups in Israeli society, we have an opportunity for a true clash of values. Faced with the ongoing racism and violence, we must present a different narrative, an alternative vision, and start decolonizing space. For those who truly believe in justice and equality, for those really interested in a regime not based on supremacism and intimidation, who do not want to live in an apartheid state but in a just society, now is the time for a different vision. Now is the time to look at Zionism’s ideological roots straight in the eye, and study Israel’s uncensored history. Now is the time to reject Zionism and opt for a feminist, civic Jewish vision of solidarity and egalitarianism. Now is the time to act in all earnestness for a Jewish existence in Palestine/Israel, which is not colonialist, which is not dependent on the denial of others’ rights to life and self-determination.
The Palestinians have been leading this struggle for over a hundred years. Every day is a good day to join them, and the day a fascist government is sworn in in Israel is a particularly good day.
What can you do?
- Join us today in protesting against the newly sworn in government. Instead of calls to protect a democracy that has never existed in Israel, cry out against colonialism and apartheid, against the occupation, against the oppression of the Palestinians in the name of Jewish supremacism.
- Palestinian communities in both the West Bank and within sovereign Israel are exposed to growing danger. Now’s the time to join a community near you, to listen and support.
- Decolonization and educating against racism take place not only in central places and large-scale events. They happen everywhere. You can teach a lesson on the Nakba and the roots of Zionism in your child’s school or invite your neighbors to a tour in a nearby depopulated Palestinian village and open their eyes to the denial of the Nakba. You can discover what lies beneath your workplace and spread the word at the office.