Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Optimism and Action Can Stop the Wave of Fascism
in the US-EU-Israel
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, May
Emmanuel-Macron, 2017 French presidential candidate
The Israeli Macron
A DEEP sigh of relief,
coming straight from the heart.
When I was 10 years old, my
family fled from Nazi Germany. We were fearful that the Gestapo was
after us. When we approached the French border, our fear was acute. Then
our train crossed the bridge that separated Germany from France, and we
heaved a deep sigh of relief.
It was almost the same sigh.
France has again sent a message of freedom.
(Emmanuel is a Hebrew name, meaning "God is with us") has won the first
round, and there is a strong possibility that he will win the second
This is not just a French affair. It
concerns all mankind.
FIRST OF all, it has broken a
After the Brexit vote and the election of Donald
Trump, there arose the myth that a dark, ultra right-wing,
fascist or near-fascist wave is bound to submerge the democratic world.
It's a decree of fate. Force majeure.
First Marine Le Pen. Then
that obnoxious Dutchman. Then Eastern European rightists. They will
crush democracy everywhere. Nothing to be done about it.
here comes somebody that nobody has ever heard of, and breaks the spell.
He has shown that decent people can come together and change the course
That is a message significant not just for France,
but for everybody. Even for us in Israel.
IT IS not yet
finished. The second round is still before us.
Looking at the
map of the first round, the picture is disturbing enough. Le Pen has
conquered a large part of France, the north and almost all the east. The
disaster may still be looming.
Facing this possibility, almost
all the other candidates have thrown their weight behind Macron. It is
the decent thing to do. Especially noble for competing candidates, who
cannot be expected to like him.
The one exception is the
far-left candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who was supported by the
Communists. For him, Le Pen and Macron are the same. For people with a
memory for history, this sounds ominous.
In 1933, the German
Communists attacked the Socialists more than they attacked Hitler. In
some large strikes, the communist "Red Front" even cooperated with
Hitler's storm-troopers. Their theory was that both Hitler and the
Socialists were capitalist stooges. Also, they were sure that the
ridiculous Hitler would disappear after some months in power, freeing
the way for the World Revolution.
They had ample time to repent
their folly, when they sat together with the socialists in the Nazi
The French communists of that time learned
the lesson. Three years later they formed a united front with the French
socialists, and the Jewish socialist Leon Blum was elected Prime
By now, this lesson seems to have been forgotten.
However, at this moment, the victory of Macron seems fairly
assured. Inshallah, as our Arab friends say.
interesting aspect of the French election, like the American one and
even the British referendum, is the end of the parties.
centuries, political parties have dominated the public arena. The
political party was the essential component of political life.
Likeminded people set up a political association, published a program,
elected a leader and took part in elections.
Alas, no more.
Television has changed all this.
TV is a very powerful, but also
very limited, medium. It shows people. Actually, it shows mostly heads.
It is most effective when it shows a head talking to the viewer.
TV does not show parties. It can talk about parties, but not really show
It is even worse at presenting party programs. Somebody
can read them out on television, but that is boring. Few viewers really
listen to them.
The practical upshot is that in modern politics,
the leader becomes more and more important, and the party and its
program less and less. I am not saying anything new, all this has been
said many times before. But this year the process dominated the results.
The brexit result crossed party lines. The Labor party, a powerful
presence for generations, seems to be breaking up.
officially represented the Republican Party, but did he? Seems the party
loathes him, his hold on it is in practice a hostile takeover. It was
Trump that was elected, not the party or a non-existent program.
These were extraordinary events. But the French elections took place in
an ordinary, traditional framework. The result was that all traditional
parties were destroyed, that all programs were blown away by the wind.
What emerged was a person, practically without a party and without a
program, with almost no political experience. He looks good on TV, he
sounds good on TV, he was a good receptacle for votes that were
primarily cast to stop the fascists.
That is a lesson not only
for France, but for all democratic countries.
IT IS a lesson
for Israel, too. A very important one.
We have already seen the
beginning of this process. We now have a number of non-parties, with
non-programs, which have gained a firm foothold in the Knesset.
For example, the party of the present Minister of Defense,
Avigdor Lieberman. An immigrant from Moldova, he set up a
"party" which appealed to immigrants from the Soviet Union. A party
without internal elections, where all candidates are chosen by the
leader and changed at (his) whim, without a real program, only a
strong fascistic whiff. He is his sole spokesman on TV. He
started with a strong anti-religious message, aimed at "Russian" voters,
but is slowly turning around. No one among his people dares to raise
Much the same situation prevails in the "party" of
Ya'ir Lapid. The son of a TV personality with
near-fascist views, he is a good-looking, smooth-talking
fellow, totally devoid of ideas, who is now beating Netanyahu in the
polls. No program, just a party that is his personal instrument. He
alone appoints all candidates. He alone appears on TV. He, too, started
as anti-religious and is turning around. (You cannot attain power in
Israel without the religious parties, unless you are ready – God forbid
– to cooperate with the Arab parties.)
a former Likudnik of North African descent, has lately set up a personal
outfit, no real party, no real program. He, too, appoints all candidates
on his list. He is now Minister of Finance.
The Labor party,
which was once an all-powerful force that dominated the political scene
for 44 consecutive years - before the state was born and after – is now
a pitiful ruin, much like its French counterpart. Its leader, Yitzhak
Herzog, is interchangeable with Francois Hollande.
there is the supreme master of TV, Binyamin Netanyahu,
intellectually hollow, with ever changing hair-color, for and against
the two-state solution, for and against everything else.
CAN we learn from the French?
Not to despair, when it looks as
though we are on the way to disaster. To escape from fatalism and into
optimism. Optimism and action.
Out of nowhere a new person can appear. On the ruins of the
established parties, a new political force can arise, discarding the old
language of left and right, speaking a new language of peace and social
Hey you, out there! What are you waiting for? The
country is waiting for you!
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