Israel has not suddenly become a more racist country. It’s becoming safer to admit your racism to the world.
The most disturbing result of this week’s Israeli election was not that an openly fascist party won the third largest seat or the key to the next government. That much will not change either in Israel or abroad.
A government based on religious Zionism would change the tone of Israeli politics and make it more crude, murderous and unyielding. But that does nothing to affect the racial supremacy that has driven Israeli politics for decades.
Israel has not suddenly become a more racist country. It’s just getting safer to admit your racism to the world. The world – or at least the world that proudly describes itself as the international community – proves that this belief is justified.
In fact, the West’s attitude towards Israel’s next coalition government is no different from its previous, supposedly less polluting government.
Privately, the US Biden administration has made clear to Israeli leaders its displeasure that fascist parties are so central to government, particularly as their presence threatens to expose Washington’s hypocrisy and embarrass Persian Gulf allies. But don’t expect Washington to do anything tangible.
There will be no statement calling for the Israeli government to be cast aside as a pariah, and no steps will be taken to sanction it or end the billions of dollars in handouts that the United States gives each year. In Washington, still reeling from the January 6 riots, there are no signs that Israel’s democracy has been undermined from within.
Nor will Israel have to commit to stronger protections for the Palestinians under its military rule, nor will there be renewed efforts to bring them to the negotiating table.
Democracy; Dead and Buried
After a few awkward steps, perhaps a symbolic refusal to meet with fascist party ministers, it’s business as usual – the “normal” oppression and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. This is not to diminish the importance of the results. Meretz, the only Jewish party that claims to support peace on settler rights in Israel, does not appear to have crossed the electoral threshold. Israel’s little peace camp looks dead and buried.
The secular far-right, the settler far-right and the fundamentalist religious right have secured 70 of the 120 seats in parliament, although infighting means not all are ready to sit together. However, it was enough to return disgraced former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to power for a record sixth term.
Itamar Ben-Gvir is almost certainly at the center of the new government, and his party represents the brutal, naked supremacy legacy of the infamous Rabbi Meir Kahane, who wants to expel the Palestinians from their homeland. Netanyahu knows that his return is due to the phenomenal rise of Ben-Gvir and the Kahane faction, and he must reward them accordingly.
Dozens more seats in the parliament are held by Jewish parties belonging to the secular right wing. Their lawmakers overwhelmingly cheered the 15-year siege of Gaza and its 2 million Palestinians, as well as the periodic bombing of coastal enclaves, as a “return to the Stone Age.”