Israeli election results analysed
Israeli analyst see society in Israel leaning more towards neo-fascist tendencies.
[Below is a summary of analys on the Israeli election results given to 'Democracy Now!' by Neve Gordon, professor of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University and the author of 'Israel’s Occupation'.]
NEVE GORDON: I think the Israeli political system has been for several years in a crisis mode, and we’ve seen that none of the governments in the past, I think, decade or even more, lasted their full term, because there’s a crisis of representation.
And when a country is in a crisis, there can be change in basically two directions. There can be a renewal of politics for a more moral, a more accepting politics. And there can be another way, which is more a xenophobic, neo-fascist tendency, is a turn to the right, a blaming of the other for all your faults.
I think what we see in these elections is that the whole political map has turned even further right than it was. We have to remember that Kadima, which basically won the elections by one point, most of its members were Likud members. And so, we have the Likud, and then we have the Likud II, and then we have Yisrael Beiteinu. Together, they form probably close to 80 percent of the electorate. And so, we have an extremely right-wing Knesset now. Some of the parties are with actually neo-fascist tendencies.
And I think the implications internally will be detrimental and even devastating. And I think the implications with Israel’s relations with its neighbors, and particularly the Palestinians, are going to be extremely harsh. And the likelihood that the Israeli government will lead any kind of peace initiative or agree to any kind of peace initiative is slim without external pressure.
Lieberman more dangerous to Israel than Hamas
This morning I taught my political theory class, and we were teaching John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty. And what I think John Stuart Mill would say is that Lieberman is more dangerous to Israel than, say, Hamas, because Lieberman can destroy the Israeli political realm more easily than Hamas, because Lieberman does not want to allow any view that is other than his own, any criticism of the government, to enter the Israeli political realm, and that is an anti-democratic and an anti-political message that he’s giving the Israeli citizenship. So I think Lieberman is extremely dangerous. As I mentioned before, I think his party has strong neo-fascist tendencies, and I think that their rise is a manifestation of the direction Israel is going. And I would say it’s an anti-Israeli stance.
We cannot understand this as an island, as something totally new, but rather something that has been building up. We see that the younger generation is supporting these neo-fascist tendencies. And we cannot blame the schools for it, but we have to blame the whole atmosphere in Israel, which is indeed a racist atmosphere, an anti-Arab atmosphere, anti-Palestinian Arab atmosphere. And Lieberman, what he has learned to do well is to feed on the hatred and the fear of the Arabs, to use a xenophobic method. And this is extremely dangerous. And to tell you the truth, I fear for Israel. I fear for the citizenry in Israel. And I think we are in a watershed moment in Israeli politics.
Whoever is not loyal to the state, according to what Lieberman and his friends believe is loyal, their citizenship can be stripped. What people are saying is that he’s talking about Arabs that are supporting the Palestinian cause for a state and supporting maybe even Hezbollah. They’re not loyal, and therefore their citizenship should be stripped.
Now, history teaches us how these things go. You begin by stripping the loyalty of an Arab that supported the Hezbollah, and then you strip the citizenship of an Arab that supported the Palestinian Authority, and then you start stripping the citizens of certain lefty Jews, and that’s how things go.
And what is interesting about all of this is that Netanyahu, the leader of Likud, said that he supports the motion of stripping citizenship to those who are unloyal to the state. But he said the only—“My only problem with Lieberman’s proposal is that Lieberman doesn’t tell us exactly how to enforce it, and it’s very difficult to enforce.” So, conceptually, ideologically, it’s a much broader political spectrum that’s supporting this connection between loyalty and citizenship, and that is extremely dangerous.