I covered the birth of Jewish fascism in Israel. I reported on the extremist Meir Kahane, who was barred from running for office and whose Kach Party was outlawed in 1994 and declared a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.
I attended political rallies held by Benjamin Netanyahu, who received lavish funding from rightwing Americans, when he ran against Yitzhak Rabin, who was negotiating a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s supporters chanted “Death to Rabin.” They burned an effigy of Rabin dressed in a Nazi uniform. Netanyahu marched in front of a mock funeral for Rabin.
Netanyahu, who first became prime minister in 1996, has spent his political career nurturing Jewish extremists, including Avigdor Lieberman, Gideon Sa’ar, Naftali Bennett, and Ayelet Shaked. His father, Benzion — who worked as an assistant to the Zionist pioneer Vladimir Jabotinsky, who Benito Mussolini referred to as “a good fascist” — was a leader in the Herut Party that called on the Jewish state to seize all the land of historic Palestine. Many of those who formed the Herut Party carried out terrorist attacks during the 1948 war that established the state of Israel. Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook and other Jewish intellectuals, described the Herut Party in a statement published in The New York Times as a “political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to Nazi and Fascist parties.
There has always been a strain of Jewish fascism within the Zionist project. Now it has taken control of the Israeli state.
“The left is no longer capable of overcoming the toxic ultra-nationalism that has evolved here,” Zeev Sternhell, a Holocaust survivor and Israel’s foremost authority on fascism, warned in 2018, “the kind whose European strain almost wiped out a majority of the Jewish people.” Sternhell added, “[W]e see not just a growing Israeli fascism but racism akin to Nazism in its early stages.”
The decision to obliterate Gaza has long been the dream of Israel’s crypto-fascists, heirs of Kahane’s movement. These Jewish extremists, which make up the ruling coaltion government, are orchestrating the genocide in Gaza, where hundreds of Palestinians are dying daily. They champion the iconography and language of their homegrown fascism. Jewish identity and Jewish nationalism are the Zionist versions of blood and soil. Jewish supremacy is sanctified by God, as is the slaughter of the Palestinians, who Netanyahu compared to the Biblical Ammonites, massacred by the Israelites. Enemies — usually Muslims — slated for extinction are subhuman who embody evil. Violence and the threat of violence are the only forms of communication those outside the magical circle of Jewish nationalism understand. Millions of Muslims and Christians, including those with Israeli citizenship, are to be purged.
A leaked 10-page document from the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence dated Oct. 13, 2023 recommends the forcible and permanent transfer of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
It is a grave mistake not to take the blood curdling calls for the wholesale eradication and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians seriously. This rhetoric is not hyperbolic. It is a literal prescription. Netanyahu in a tweet, later removed, described the battle with Hamas as a “struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle.”
These Jewish fanatics have begun their version of the final solution to the Palestinian problem. They dropped 12,000 tons of explosives on Gaza in the first two weeks of assault to obliterate at least 45 percent of Gaza’s housing units, according to the U.N.’s humanitarian office. They have no intention of being detoured, even by Washington.
“It became evident to U.S. officials that Israeli leaders believed mass civilian casualties were an acceptable price in the military campaign,” The New York Times reported.
“In private conversations with American counterparts, Israeli officials referred to how the United States and other allied powers resorted to devastating bombings in Germany and Japan during World War II — including the dropping of the two atomic warheads in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — to try to defeat those countries,” the paper continued.
The goal is a “pure” Israel, cleansed of Palestinian contaminants. Gaza is to become a wasteland. The Palestinians in Gaza will be killed or forced into refugee camps over the border in Egypt. Messianic redemption will take place once the Palestinians are expelled. Jewish extremists call for the Al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest shrine for Muslims, built on the ruins of the Jewish Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70 CE by the Roman army – to be demolished. The mosque is to be replaced by a “Third” Jewish temple, a move that would set the Muslim world alight. The West Bank, which the zealots call “Judea and Samaria,” will be formally annexed by Israel. Israel, governed by the religious laws imposed by the ultra-orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, will be a Jewish version of Iran.
It is a short step to total Israeli control over Palestinian land. Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements, restricted military zones, closed highways and army compounds have seized over 60 percent of the West Bank, turning Palestinian towns and villages into ringed ghettos. There are over 65 laws which discriminate directly or indirectly against Palestinian citizens of Israel and those living in the occupied territories. The campaign of indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in the West Bank, many by rogue Jewish militias, along with house and school demolitions and the seizure of remaining Palestinian land will explode. Over 133 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by the Israeli army and Jewish settlers since the Oct. 7 incursion by Hamas and thousands of Palestinians have been rounded up by the Israeli military, beaten, humiliated and imprisoned.
Israel, at the same time, is turning on “Jewish traitors” who refuse to embrace the demented vision of the ruling Jewish fascists and who denounce the horrific violence of the state. The familiar enemies of fascism — journalists, human rights advocates, intellectuals, artists, feminists, liberals, the left, homosexuals and pacifists — are already being targeted. The judiciary, according to plans put forward by Netanyahu, will be neutered. Public debate will wither. Civil society and the rule of law will cease to exist. Those branded as “disloyal” will be deported.
Fascists do not respect the sanctity of life. Human beings, even from their own tribe, are expendable to build their deranged utopia. The zealots in power in Israel could have exchanged the hostages held by Hamas for the thousands of Palestinian hostages held in Israeli prisons, which is why the Israeli hostages were seized. And there is evidence that in the chaotic fighting that took place once Hamas militants entered Israel, the Israeli military decided to target not only Hamas fighters, but the Israeli captives with them.
“Several new testimonies by Israeli witnesses to the October 7 Hamas surprise attack on southern Israel adds to growing evidence that the Israeli military killed its own citizens as they fought to neutralize Palestinian gunmen,” Max Blumenthal writes in The Grayzone.
Tuval Escapa, a member of the security team for Kibbutz Be’eri, Blumenthal notes, set up a hotline to coordinate between kibbutz residents and the Israeli army.
Escapa told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that as desperation began to set in, “the commanders in the field made difficult decisions – including shelling houses on their occupants in order to eliminate the terrorists along with the hostages.”
The newspaper reported that Israeli commanders were “compelled to request an aerial strike” against its own facility inside the Erez Crossing to Gaza “in order to repulse the terrorists” who had seized control. That base housed Israeli Civil Administration officers and soldiers.
Israel, in 1986, instituted a military policy called the Hannibal Directive, apparently named for the Carthaginian general who poisoned himself rather than be captured by the Romans, following the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. The directive is designed to prevent Israeli troops from falling into enemy hands through the maximum use of force, even at the cost of killing the captured soldiers and civilians.
The directive was executed during the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza known as Operation Protective Edge. Hamas fighters on Aug. 1, 2014 captured an Israeli officer, Lt. Hadar Goldin. In response, Israel dropped more than 2,000 bombs, missiles and shells on the area where he was being held. Goldin was killed along with over 100 Palestinian civilians. The directive was supposedly rescinded in 2016.
Gaza is the start. The West Bank is next.
Israelis who cheer on the Palestinian nightmare will soon endure a nightmare of their own.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Titanic Lifeboat Academy or its Board of Directors.