Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Best in Israeli Society Are Dispirited,
Defeated, and mute, But the Worst Fascists Are
Full of Intensity
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May 30, 2016
|The Fascist Zionist Emperor
||The Zionist puppet and Trojan
Horse called Trump
The Center Doesn't Hold
"THE BEST lack all
convictions, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity!"
Is there a better description of what is happening in Israel now?
Yet these words were written, almost a hundred years ago, by the Irish
poet W. B. Yeats.
YEATS WAS writing shortly after the terrible
slaughter and destruction of World War I. He believed that the world was
coming to an end, and expected the second coming of the Messiah.
As part of the chaos, he foresaw in the same poem that "the center cannot
hold". I believe he took this metaphor from the battlefields of former
ages, when the opposing armies were arrayed in two lines facing each
other, with the main force in the center, and the two flanks protecting
In a classic battle, each side tried to destroy one of the
flanks of the enemy in order to encircle the center and attack it. As long
as the center held, the battle was undecided.
In Israel, as in
most (so-called*) democracies, the center is composed of two or more
establishment parties, slightly left and slightly right. The leftist is
the classic Labor party, now hiding behind the name "Zionist Camp" (which
automatically excludes the Arab minority, some 20% of the electorate.) The
rightist is the Likud, the present incarnation of the old "Revisionist"
party founded nearly a hundred years ago by Vladimir Jabotinsky, a liberal
nationalist, in the Italian Risorgimento style.
This was the
Israeli center, supported by some conjuncture-born parties.
ruled Israel since the day of its founding. One party constituted the
government, the other acted as the loyal opposition, and they swapped
roles every few years, as they should (according to the game of*)
On the 'flanks" there were the Arab Parties (now
united under duress), the small but principled Meretz on the left, and
several religious and proto-Fascist parties on the right.
a "normal" set-up, like that in many (so-called*) democratic countries.
ON THE center-left, a mood of resignation and defeat
prevails. The old party has fallen into the hands of a number of political
dwarfs, whose quarrels among themselves obliterate all its other
The present leader, Yitzhak Herzog, the scion of a good
family, carries by law the glorious title of "Leader of the Opposition",
but doesn't even know what opposition is. Some call his party "Likud 2".
On all the vital subjects – such as peace with the Palestinian people and
the Arab world, social justice, human rights, democracy, separation
between state and religion, corruption – the party is mute. For all
practical purposes, it is moribund or worse.
"The best lack all
conviction," as Yeats lamented. The best
elements of Israeli society are dispirited, defeated, mute.
On the center-right,
the picture is even worse, and much more dangerous. The Likud, once a
liberal, democratic right-wing party, has fallen victim to a hostile
takeover. Its extremist wing has pushed everyone else out, and now
dominates the party completely. In the sense of the same metaphor, the
right flank has taken over the center.
"The worst are full of
intensity". These rightist radicals are now in full cry. They enact
atrocious laws in the Knesset. They back and encourage detestable acts by
policemen and soldiers. They try to undermine the Supreme Court and the
Army Command. They are intent on building more and bigger settlements.
These dangerous barbarians are indeed
"full of intensity".
The addition of Avigdor Lieberman to the government
completes the frightening picture. Even the former Prime Minister, Ehud
Barak, a measured politician, publicly announced that this government
includes fascist elements.
WHY HAS this happened? What is the root cause?
answer is "the people have moved to the right". But that explains nothing.
Why have they moved rightward? Why?
Some seek the explanation in
the demographic schism in the Israeli Jewish community. Jews whose
families come from Islamic countries (called Mizrahim) tend to vote for
the Likud, Jews whose families come from Europe (Ashkenazim) tend to the
That does not explain
Lieberman, whose party consists of immigrants from the
former Soviet Union, about a million and a half, generally called "Russians".
Why are so many of them extreme
rightists, racists and Arab-haters?
A class by themselves are young leftists, who refuse to
support any party. Instead, they turn towards non-party activism,
regularly founding new groups for civil rights and peace. They support the
Palestinians in the occupied territories, fight for the "purity of our
arms" in the army, and do wonderful work for similar causes.
There are dozens, perhaps hundreds of such associations, many of them
supported by foreign funds, which do wonderful work. But they abhor the
political arena, would not join any party, much less unite for this
I believe that this phenomenon comes close to the
explanation of the trend. More and more people, especially young ones,
turn their back on "politics" – by which they mean party politics –
altogether. They do not "lack all convictions", but believe that the
political parties lack all honest convictions and they want nothing to do
They don't see that political parties are a necessary
instrument for achieving change in a democracy. They see them as groups of
corrupt hypocrites, lacking real convictions, and don't want to be seen
in such company.
THUS WE come to an astonishing fact: developments
in Israel resemble processes in many other countries, which have nothing
to do with our specific problems.
A few days ago there were
elections for the presidency of Austria. Until now, the Austrian
presidency, a ceremonial office as in Israel, passed between the two main
parties. This time something unprecedented happened: the two final
candidates came from the extreme right and the Greens. The voters just
eliminated all the candidates from the central establishment. Worse, the
near-fascist candidate only lost by a tiny margin.
country which enthusiastically welcomed (the Austrian) Adolf Hitler only
80 years ago, and suffered the full consequences?
explanation is that Austrians, like Israelis, are fed up with the
established parties. The two nations, of equal size, which have nothing
else in common, feel the same.
In France, the far-right
anti-establishment politician Marine Le Pen is celebrating. In Spain,
Holland and some of the Scandinavian states anti-establishment parties are
In the UK, the mother of democracy, the public is about
to vote for or against the Brexit, a cause identified with the
establishment. To leave the European Union looks (to me, at least) totally
irrational. Yet the chance of it happening seems real.
speak only about smaller countries? What about the lone superpower, the
United States of America?
For months now, the world public has
been watching with growing amazement the incredible ascent of Donald
Trump. From day to day, the drama, which started as a comedy, becomes more
What, for god's sake, has happened to this great
nation? How can millions and millions flock to the banner of a
loud-mouthed, vulgar, ignorant candidate, whose main – and perhaps only –
asset is his distance from all political parties? How could he overcome,
actually destroy, the Grand Old Party, a part of American history?
On the other side there is Bernie Sanders, a much more appealing
character, but one also detested by his own party, with an agenda that is
quite remote from that of the majority of Americans.
only one similarity between the two: they loathe their parties and their
parties loathe them.
THIS SEEMS to have become a world-wide
pattern. All over South America, not so long ago a bulwark of the left,
leftist parties are thrown out, and rightist figures take over.
Considering that this is happening at the same time in dozens of
countries, large and small, which have absolutely nothing else in common -
different problems, different issues, different situations – this is
nothing short of amazing.
For me, this is a riddle. Every few
decades, new ideas come up and infect a large part of humanity. Democracy,
liberalism, anarchism, social-democracy, communism, fascism, democracy
again, and now this kind of chaos, mostly radical right-wing, are
world-wide trends. They don't yet have a name.
I am sure that many
people, Marxists and others, have a ready-made explanation. I am not
convinced by any. I am just baffled.
COMING BACK to us poor
Israelis: I just published in Haaretz a practical plan to stem the deluge
and push it back.
I am still committed to optimism.
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