‘Israel’ in Splinters — at a moment of Western Self-Destruction
Both the US and Europe staked their future – ‘our democracy’ – on insisting the world sees the ‘western way’ as the only valid vision for its future, as well.
The “Israel” you thought you knew, no longer exists: Mizrahi (Jews originally from Arab countries) radicals have ousted the Ashkenazi (Euro-liberal) élite from power in “Israel’s” last elections. A long lineal continuity of Israeli politics has just been trashed. This outcome represents a complete ‘turning of the tables’ — a severance with the American (mostly ‘Reform’) diaspora, and from the secular, Kibbutznik and Herzliya former leadership class.
Settlers now effectively rule — and they do not give a damn about the latter. One former senior Israeli diplomat has described it thus:
“Israel isn’t a far-right/religious country. But soon it will have a far-right/religious government”.
“Israel isn’t a fascist country, but soon it will have a government that smells a lot like fascism”.
“Beyond sophisticated analyses and number crunching there’s an inescapable reality: 50 percent of Israelis voted for a quasi-fascist, ultra-religious, corruption-tolerating coalition”.
How did it happen that a resentful, embittered underclass — that helped populate the new settlements — a mocked fodder (the Mizrahim) that served primarily for keeping the mechanics of the national structure turning and ticking – seized power in a watershed vote?
The first reason is that, as Israeli commentator, Gideon Levy wrote before the recent election, “In Israeli Politics, It’s Not Right vs. Left but Ashkenazim vs. Mizrahim“:
“You don’t need to be Columbus to discover that the liberal camp, enlightened, at least in its own eyes, wealthy and progressive – in short, the center-left – is largely Ashkenazi. You don’t have to be Einstein to conclude that the motivating force of the other camp is first and foremost generations of a sense of discrimination and frustration, in addition to increased religiosity …“.
“The settlers and their supporters, the strongest right-wing power in Israel, spoil the ranks a bit; the leadership and most of the camp are Ashkenazi. However, they are now challenged by Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose Mizrachi credentials are a significant part of his attraction, even if he denies it“.
Another explanation lies with Netanyahu’s strategic shift away from the 75% of American Jews who vote Democratic for both the presidency and Congress, to ally himself with conservative US evangelical Christians (in lieu of that majority of American Jews). Plainly put: His (‘red’) “Israel” doesn’t like the US (blue) 75%.
It’s all about numbers, as well as the growing red/blue cultural schism. There are about 6 million Jews in the US. At the time of the Netanyahu ‘switch’, about 25% of Americans identified as evangelicals; today, that figure stands lower, at 14%. Yet, that’s still 49 million Americans.
The third explanation is that Netanyahu doesn’t want to go to jail. And his best prospect for escaping prison lies with a coalition of the Religious Right and the Jewish supremacists. They are committed to keeping him clear of the ‘slammer’ — at a price.
So, what does this inflection point suggest? Well… that things will be different. Netanyahu’s coalition partner, Religious Zionism, is a party whose leaders have said:
“Only Jews own the land; Palestinians should be encouraged to emigrate; those opposing Jewish supremacy should be stripped of their citizenship and expelled; Jewish and Arab women must be separated in maternity wards; homosexuality is a disease; and Pride events are ‘beast and animal parades’”.
Imagine how that will go down inside the EU! Especially in wake of the Qatar World Cup fracas!
Put simply: It is ‘war’ on Palestinians. The threat from Iran, thus slips down the agenda, though it remains as Netanyahu’s first resort, should a diversionary crisis become required to shift the spotlight away from internal Israeli ‘civil war’.
And, warns Gideon Levy:
“[This] rift will not heal with time; rather, it will deepen. No, it’s not about incitement, it’s the reality of life. As opposed to the fairy tales about there being no socioeconomic gaps and no discrimination, about the army being a melting pot and mixed marriages in the family, the 2022 election [was] in the end, Ashkenazi versus Mizrahi, or the other way around“.
This Israeli coalition composition is also a ‘giving the finger’ to Team Biden. The past ‘Blue rationale’ was always that the US and “Israel” are united via their commitment to a pluralistic, open, tolerant, and diverse society — and to “shared values”. They cherish the rule of law, separation of powers, judicial independence, minority rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and checks and balances, etc.
Well, even if that narrative is not exactly true for the US today, it nonetheless is the mantra that has bestowed Israel with unparalleled power on Capitol Hill. The point is, can that – will that – be sustained?
And the latter question is also the point where Israeli politics meshes into fast-transforming geo-politics. For, America and Europe (like “Israel”) are toxically divided, holding to dueling visions of the future, and an evaporating defining narrative: i.e. that of the global ‘liberal’ order.
Both the US and Europe staked their future – ‘our democracy’ – on insisting the world sees the ‘western way’ as the only valid vision for its future, as well. Bludgeoning Russia into submission on ‘the rules’ then became the sine qua non to maintaining intact that vital contingency.
This objective is plain enough — when the western political class admits that for the West to lose in Ukraine would trigger the demise of the liberal Order.
The US, with Europe, eagerly straining on the leash to join in, prepared for the start of this conflict in Ukraine through building up a huge NATO-trained and equipped army, primed to explode the Donbass landmine plumb in President Putin’s back yard at an appropriate moment. Putin thus would be taught compliance. And the rest-of-world would ‘get it’, too — that challenging western primacy does not pay.
In what is likely to be seen in retrospect as the most egregious strategic intelligence failure of this era however, the intelligence services peddled to western states a hubristic assessment that Russia was a backward, failing state. With such an erroneous claim, the services created a genuinely-held conviction in Europe that massive sanctions on Russia and unrestrained psyops would unleash economic turmoil, followed by political upheaval in the Kremlin (of benefit to the West).
The blowback from this spectacular misjudgment now rolls noisily around the globe. Far from having cemented the liberal order, the war on Russia has alienated the majority of the globe from the western camp. The rush to BRICS is on and the western narrative is irretrievably punctured. NATO military ‘nous’ is put in question. And Europe flails about desperately.
“Israel” has becomes an ‘island’ in a world-headlong in transition. Netanyahu may presume his coalition’s stance on LBGTQ and “bestial gay parades” may find favour with Moscow. If so, he will be wrong. Social mores may be quite traditional in Russia, but do NOT extend to seeing one people suppressed and trampled upon by another: Read the lessons from the Donbas correctly, and without prejudice.