Israel is facing what many fear could be a point of no return. It must now decide which is the greater danger to its existence: the crude rockets fired from Gaza and immobilized by Israel’s Iron Dome, or the right-wing thugs running through the streets shouting “death to the Arabs” and beating up Israeli Palestinians and Jews protesting Israel’s deplorable and merciless assault on Gaza. Israel is fast slipping into a kind of neo-fascism. Is this what we Jews have learned from our own dreadful experience at the hands of the Nazi fascists, to become like them? We Jews, who suffered so mercilessly under fascism, ought to be especially alert to the danger signs of this menace stalking Israel. But are we?
These are the facts: Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank is illegal under international law. Period. Full stop. And Israel’s seven-year siege of Gaza is simply occupation by another name. Israel completely controls Gaza from the land, sea, and air, making it the world’s largest outdoor prison. The blockade is responsible for devastating the economy and infrastructure of Gaza’s 1.8 million people who have survived through sheer tenacity under unbearable living conditions. Throughout its illegal blockade, Israel has placed severe limits on critical food and medical supplies – measures that have resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, as well as malnutrition, disease, and other severe health risks – all of which have gone unreported in the mainstream media.
People under occupation have a right to resist and fight back. Whether or not one condemns or approves of Hamas’s rocket fire, one thing is clear: Israel is not really defending itself from rockets, it is instead defending its self-declared right to swallow up more and more Palestinian land and empty it of more and more Palestinians. If Israel were serious about peace, it would have welcomed the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas with which it could have entered into negotiations. If Israel were serious about peace, it would have long ago accepted the Arab peace initiative of 2002, which the Arab League endorsed, and would have normalized relations between Israel and the entire Arab world. Even Israel’s so-called archenemy Iran endorsed the peace initiative, but Israel rejected it out of hand without even entering into further negotiations regarding the proposal.
Israel’s war on Gaza is a high-tech slaughter, an act of collective punishment imposed upon a civilian population, targeting hospitals, schools, homes, mosques, power stations, UN designated refugee shelters, and even kids playing soccer on the beach. There is no safe place in Gaza. These acts are the work of a nation in the grip of madness. They are war crimes, pure and simple. Moreover, despite the wanton destruction Israel is reigning down on Gaza’s civilians, Netanyahu has the chutzpa to proclaim, “We’re using our missile defense to protect our civilians and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.” Netanyahu has no shame. But he will never be able to cover up the barbarity and callousness of Israel’s crimes with his clever play on words. And the world is beginning to see this.
When Netanyahu said recently that there would be no Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as long as he is Prime Minister, he was merely stating a fundamental tenet of his Likud party publicly. Now it should be clear to all that the so-called peace process was always a cynical charade to hide Israel’s true intentions – a Greater Israel comprising the entirety of historic Palestine.
If Israel is under the mistaken belief the Palestinians will stop resisting their occupation, it has learned nothing from history. Nothing motivates people more than the urge for freedom and dignity. If Israel is to survive and if there is ever to be peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the larger Arab world, Israel must free itself from the death grip of Zionism which has infected it with intolerance, racism, xenophobia, and a hyper nationalism that is a threat to peace and a far worse enemy than any rockets from Gaza could ever be.
The unconditional financial, military, and diplomatic support the U.S. gives Israel has helped turn it into a pariah state acting with blind cruelty and lawless impunity. In the end, this is no gift to Israel and it will only further inflame anti-American and anti-Jewish sentiment around the world.
Editor’s Note from Rabbi Michael Lerner: Many of us share David Glick’s righteous indignation at what Israel is doing in Gaza and his fear that Israel is drifting toward self-destructive racism toward its own Palestinian minority within the pre-67 borders of Israel. What is lacking is some compassion for the people and their experience, and hence any plausible way that coercion from outside is going to change rather than accelerate the dynamics Glick rightly opposes. What are the psychological interventions that might be taken to loosen the Israeli public’s increasing attraction to reactionary forms of nationalism in the face of mistaken perceptions that Israel’s existence is in danger? Does calling them neo-fascists make it easier or harder for Israelis and their supporters around the world (including, according to a CNN poll last week, 57% of the American public) to consider some other path besides the one that their leaders have shown them? It is this kind of discussion, rather than the labeling of a whole group of people, that seems more helpful for those of us concerned not only with “being right and righteous” but also of healing and transforming the realities we find so hurtful and destructive?
David Glick is a psychotherapist and a member of Jewish Voice for Peace. His writings have appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and in Tikkun Magazine online. On his mother’s side, he is the grandson of a revered rabbi; and on his father’s side, he is the nephew of someone who helped thousands of Jews leave Germany during 1937-38 who otherwise would have perished in the Holocaust.