The black avalanche of israeli far-right extremism is coming. In the preface to my novel “The Metamorphosis of the Poppies” I wrote:
“My novel takes place [in Israel] in the near future in which I imagine power – democratically elected, of course – entirely in the hands of religious fundamentalists, in my eyes not too dissimilar to the Taliban… The silence of reason scares me“ (1).
I did not foresee, alas, that this scenario would unfold so soon.
The Knesset election on 4/11/22 gave a large majority to Netanyahu’s Likud and the three far-right parties: the religious parties SHAS and United Torah Judaism and the far-right Otzma Yehudit of Itamar Ben-Gvir. The latter, the third largest party in the Knesset, is openly inspired by Rabbi Meir Kahan, a racist fanatic whose associations were outlawed, who aspired to a theocratic state and ‘holy war’ against Palestinians.
Itamar Ben-Gvir lives in Kyriat Arba, in a Jewish colony on the West Bank, one of the most extremist settlements. Its platform includes the complete annexation of the West Bank and full supports settler violence.
After the elections Israeli President Isaac Herzog, referring to this person – in front of a microphone, turned on without his knowledge – exclaimed “The whole world is worried”(2).
As an Israeli kid I was proud of Zahal, the army that made it possible for me to grow up in Eretz Israel, an independent country where the Jewish people would finally be safe after two thousand years of persecution. Today things have sadly changed. About Zahal, in the aftermath of the elections, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy writes:
“Two out of 10 soldiers voted for Religious Zionism, the slate that includes Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party. Two out of 10 soldiers are in favor of transfer, annexation, death to terrorists, death to Arabs.
“Two out of 10 soldiers think they belong to a superior nation and that Palestinians have no rights here. They also think that everything is permissible to soldiers; that they are always allowed to shoot to kill, that the Arabs understand only force and humiliation, that they are not human beings. Two out of 10 soldiers are Kahanists, but among soldiers serving in the West Bank that number is much greater […]. They not only believe in Ben-Gvir, they practice what he preaches.
“The benefit, though, of Ben-Gvir’s electoral success is that it brings the truth to the surface. Gone are the days of the stories about soldiers who are tormented by their actions. Everything we always suspected about the brutal, at times barbaric behavior of IDF soldiers and members of the Border Police and Israel Police has been confirmed in the vote count […]. Don’t be deceived: It wasn’t only regular soldiers who voted for Ben-Gvir – so did some of their commanders.
“[…] The fact that the high command calmly accepts the events of the past few months, including the killings of dozens of teenagers and young children, settling for the lies and cover-ups of the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, only proves that Ben-Gvir is the true face of the IDF in the West Bank. The election confirmed this.
“This election should put an end to the lie that the IDF is a moral army. Soldiers and commanders who vote heavily for a party that in Europe would be considered neo-Nazi define the army’s image”(3).
Amos Harel, another Israeli journalist, points to the real reason for Netanyahu’s return to power:
“This coalition has one paramount goal: to abort Netanyahu’s slow but so far fairly certain trajectory toward a prison cell. And to put a halt to the legal proceedings, a few quick laws need to be passed […]. The dangers, therefore, will be first and foremost in the judicial sphere, to the future of the rule of law and the stability of democracy inside the Green Line” (4).
The black avalanche is about to submerge my native country. It removes any prospect of peace, further separates Israel from advanced free nations, and fosters the spread of anti-Semitism.
My concern is that of the Israeli peace movements. Sally Abed, of the peace group “Standing Together“, wrote:“This morning brought many feelings: fear, confusion, and anger. We’ve been feeling these emotions since the first exit polls came out. We know that many of us feel enveloped by dread. Soon, Israel will inaugurate its most right-wing government ever. Another Netanyahu prime ministership, this time with Itamar Ben-Gvir and Betzelel Smotrich at his right side, is a dark omen […]. This government will tell us that never-ending war is our only future and that Jews and Arabs will never live in peace” (5).
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- Nathan Levi – La Metamorfosi dei Papaveri (Tresogni editore, 2021)
- Israel’s president says ‘world is worried about far-right partner in Netanyahu coalition – Reuter, 10/11/2022
- Ben-Gvir’s Army in the West Bank – Gideon Levy, Haaretz 6/11/2022
- Israel Elections: With the West Bank on the Brink, Netanyahu Ushers in the Pyromaniacs – Amos Harel, Haaretz 4/11/2022
- Sally Abed – Standing Together (article received by mail on 7/11/2022)