(Normal) Nazi Adjacent and Ethno-Religious Fascist Politics in the United States and Israel (Not Normal)

These things are not separate: Nazi adjacent politics and a surge of anti-Semitism in the United States, ethno-religious fascism in Israel, and their mainstreaming in society by rightwing media platforms. It remains to be seen if this institutes the new normal or if there are things so abnormal as to resist any attempt to normalize them? The jury is still out.

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Red Line (American Jews Boycotting Ethno-Theocratic Government of Israel)

It’s an interesting experience watching in real time the emergence of a vast inflection. Liberal and progressive American Jewish normative redlines against theocratic fascism in Israel. These are lines reported here and here regarding mainstream liberal rabbis, community leaders, and Washington type policy-people who will refuse all contact with members of the oncoming coalition government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, Bezalel Smotrich, and Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Historically, Jewish communities have always been marked by intense lines of collective solidarity, if not always around the edges. While nasty intra-Jewish discord is not a new thing, all of this in and about Israel now is unprecedented in scope and not normal. “To those who view such steps as alarmist, Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, says she would argue that there is ‘not enough of an emergency atmosphere’ among American Jews regarding the next Israeli government.'”

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(Israel) Deputy Minister of “Jewish National Identity” (Theocratic and Anti-Jewish)

More on religion and state and the state of orthodox Judaism in Israel. From the religious Zionist Noam party, homophobe and misogynist Avi Maoz will be appointed deputy minister in the Office of the Prime Minister promoting “National-Jewish identity.” Under the potential control of the deputy minister include changes to who counts as a Jew for Israeli citizenship under the the Law of Return, the participation of Arab-Israeli teachers in public schools, the service of women in the IDF, egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, stricter national observance of Shabbat, the Orthodox rabbinate’s monopoly over religious life, injecting religious law into broader society, and promoting “family values.” You can read about him here and here raising the banner of “normative Judaism” against “post-modernism.”

According to the signed coalition agreement, the “Jewish National Authority” established inside the Prime Minister’s Office will be given a 150 million shekel ($44.1 million) budget and a 15-person staff. More significant is the control being granted over external educational programs with a 2 billion shekel ($588 million) budget.

About this you can read here.

Not only is [Maoz] being handed education programs focused on religion, the Bible, and Jewish culture and identity, Netanyahu also gave him authority over some 100 other subjects, including civics, art, history, army preparation, human rights, social studies, Jewish thought, computer science, technology, space, economics, Arabic, philosophy, psychology and gender equality. And that’s not all. Netanyahu pledged in the coalition agreement with Maoz that he would not only have to make do with the 15 employees under the Jewish identity authority, but that rather all the activities of the Education Ministry’s unit for external programs, including dozens of its employees and its budgets, will be handed over to him, along with a unit in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for government collaboration with civil society groups. In other words, not only will Education Ministry employees be subordinate to Maoz, but so will several hundreds of people who work for businesses and nonprofits tasked with developing educational material and programming for schools. Maoz will also be able to give big financial incentives to schools that agree to use programming developed by his Jewish identity authority.”

The appointment of Maoz represents more than an insignificant government post with little actual authority. Symbolically, he represents a part of the face of a new government in the making that seeks to control “Jewish identity” in the State of Israel. Practically he is being allotted a major role in the inculcation of “Jewish values” in the Israeli educational system, while funneling millions of shekels towards ultra-rightwing Jewish non-profits. These governing authorities to be given to Maoz, and with him to Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich are unprecedented in scope and mark a significant inflection point in Jewish/Israeli society. Religious Zionism has turned into an uncivil mutation. Against the identity as constellated by most Jews in Israel and the diaspora, against a pluralist civil society in Israel including Arabs and Jews, the new religious government as it is taking shape in Israel is arguably theocratic and anti-Jewish.

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Rightwing Religious Threats to Democracy in Israel (Leena Dallasheh and Dana Golan)


For anyone interested, I am posting an overview of the ultra rightwing-religious government that Benjamin Netanyahu is now in the process of cobbling together. Shaul Magid sent me a 15 page document by Drs. Leena Dallasheh and Dana Golan at Ofek: The Israeli Center for Public Affairs. I am embedding the a pdf of the document below. I think the document could have been more strongly worded. What I would have highlighted is the direct threat to Israeli democracy and to liberal and human values posed by a theocratic regime based on Jewish ethnic supremacism and righting orthodox Judaism. The document includes direct statements illustrating radicalized voices of extreme hatred and violence that shape this new direction.

Even mainstream liberal Jews in America will have to boycott this government and its representatives.

I am paraphrasing the three basic components identified by the authors to which I am adding a fourth and a fifth more focused on religion:

–Direct assault on the separation of powers, namely the independence of the judiciary in Israel, including the independence of the Supreme Court, and the independence of the national police from ministerial control. The legal protections enjoyed by the citizens of Israel enjoined by the Supreme Court will all be subject to the override of a simple majority in the Knesset. This includes rights and protections enjoyed by women, members of the LGBTQ community, Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, civil society activists, as well as protections meant to secure freedom from religious coercion.

–Anti-Palestinian incitement, including incitement against citizens of Israel. Threats to deport Arab-Palestinian citizens accused of “disloyalty” to the Jewish State should be taken seriously. Plans include loosening of open-fire restrictions on Arab-Palestinian protesters and people suspected of criminality.

–Entrenching the Occupation, annexing settlements, and cementing the Apartheid regime in the West Bank. Plans include expanding [illegal] settlements and authorizing settlements that are considered illegal even under Israeli law. Enormous sums of money will be transferred to [illegal] settlements. Governing authority of West Bank territories will be transferred from the military and Defense Ministry to ministries under the civil control of the Religious Zionism and Jewish Power parties. Plans include the transfer of control of the Border Police to the civil ministry of “National Security.” Encouraging and turning a blind eye to violence by religious settlers against West Bank Palestinians and leftwing Israeli activists, and loosening open-fire protocols.

–The domination of Israeli society and the economy by the ultra-orthodox and religious ultra-nationalists includes plans to keep yeshiva students out of the army, keep Haredi school systems free from secular curricula, double stipends for yeshivot and advanced yeshiva students, more incitement against and restricting limits on the expression of Judaism on the part of Reform and Conservative Jews, introducing more rightwing religious content into the secular school system.

–Profound and dangerous changes to the status quo re: Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount that threaten to engulf the entire region in an unholy religious war.

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Jewish Fascism + Fascist Judaism + State of Israel

There has been a lot of threatening and threatened talk reported in the Israeli press about the Supreme Court and also about the the culture of loyalty and about the imposition of gender segregation in Israel after Netanyahu forms his next government. This article by Mazal Mualem is about widely reported plans by members of the incoming ruling coalition to attack human rights organizations in Israel. The utter filth and violence of the language reminds me of rigthwingers in the U.S. insisting that you have to identify the religious denomination of “Islamic terrorism” in order to combat the phenomenon. One can concede to the power of that logic about what was, in fact, a malicious argument. It touches profoundly upon the power of language to name things. The only way to combat “Jewish fascism” and “fascist Judaism” is to identify by name this complex mutation of orthodox Judaism and rightwing politics that is now in position to take over the State of Israel.

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(Hebron) Hayyei Sarah Pogroms (Religious Zionism)

Hebron in the occupied West Bank is the traditional site of the first hold of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel according to the Bible. Read once a year, this week’s parsha, Hayyei Sarah, tells how Abraham bought a plot of land to bury Sarah. In modern times, Hebron was the site of an anti-Jewish massacre in 1929 by Palestinian mobs. Since the 1970s, it has been a place of what Yitzhak Rabin called wild weeds of settler violence and terror. Since 1996, Jewish rightwing and religious extremists converge on Hebron to commemorate the reading of that Torah portion named after the matriarch Sarah. You can read about these events here and here and here as announced and reported by rightwing religious sources. Like a “Jewish Woodstock.”

This year, Hayyei Sarah was pocked by extreme act of anti-Palestine violence by hundreds of religious Jews marching into parts of the occupied Hebron ostensibly controlled by the Palestinian Authority. You can read about the spike in anti-Palestinian attacks by religious settlers in the days leading up this week here. Reports about today’s violence in leftwing, center, and center right new English language sources in Israel are here and here and here. The most comprehensive article in the press is here in Ha’aretz including interviews with Palestinian residents of Hebron, and Jewish soldiers and settlers. The anti-Palestinian violence, from soldiers and settlers was especially extreme this year.

The violence is organized around Jewish religion. The rioters are all religious Jews. But the state is ultimately responsible. They let this happen and these events possible. Long abetted by the State and the IDF whose soldiers “maintain the peace” of the Occupation, this is the wave of religious fanaticism about to sweep into the governing coalition to be led by Benjamin Netanyahu, changing the face of the country. There is too much Judaism in Israel, unbalanced and unchecked. Judaism in Israel is the religion of a violent ghetto, a saturating supremacy and racism with no regard for human values, respect for other people, unhinged and unhinging. These not so new mutations in religious Zionism are corruptions of the human image and desecrate God.

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Polish Jew Carrying Cholent (Twitter)

A Jew carries a pot of cholent [stew] to be cooked for the Sabbath.

Photograph | Photograph Number: 11889

A Jew carries a pot of cholent [stew] to be cooked for the Sabbath.

“A Jew carries a pot of cholent [stew] to be cooked for the Sabbath”

Date Circa 1930 – 1939

Locale Poland

Photo Designation LIFE BEFORE THE HOLOCAUST — Poland — Economic Life/Daily Life

Photo Credit United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Nava Schreiber

[h/t crisis dybbuk @shvlman]

[The internet is a repository of a repository of digital images of photographic images of actual life as imagined]

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Office Late At Night With William James

Thoughts about the night are strung along the Principles of Psychology. James is concerned here, and also in the Varieties of Religious Experience, with stimuli, sensation, perception, and the imagination. Thoughts about night in the PP make reference to the quiet ticking of clocks in the house and other shifts in sensorial attention. Knowing that the task is impossible, James wants to trace the origin or cause of our mental states and impressions, including religious and spiritual ones, in particular those relating to the reality of the unseen. In both the PP and Varieties, The night is a time of stillness and also nightmares.

There is no illumination to reveal these paths. In relation to night, these are the final words of vol. 2 that conclude the PP as a whole

The causes of our mental structure are doubtless natural, and connected, like all our other peculiarities, with those of our nervous structure. ur interests, our tendencies of attention, our motor impulses, the aesthetic, moral, and theoretic combinations we delight in, the extent of our power of apprehending schemes of relation, just like the elementary relations themselves, time, space, difference and similarity, and the elementary kinds of feeling, have all grown up in ways of which at present we can give no account. Even in the clearest parts of Psychology our insight is insignificant enough. And the more sincerely one seeks to trace the actual course of psychogenesis, the steps by which as a race we may have come by the peculiar m ental attributes which we possess, the more clearly one perceives “the slowly gathering twilight close in utter night.”

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(Essence of Judaism) Sherry Herring (NYC)

(W. 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue)

(Kaplan was right)

With this approach, the question of “why be a Jew?” loses its relevance. If Jewish life is a unique way of experience, it needs no further justification. We may call this approach to Judaism the intuitional approach, in contrast with the traditional approach of NeoOrthodoxy and the rational approach of Reformist Judaism. Such an approach would bring about a profound psychological difference in
Jewish living. Jewish life would no longer have to be lived for the purpose of exemplifying certain universal truths. Neither would it have to be pruned and clipped into conformity with a complex of abstract values whose very universality precludes their adoption as the purpose and rationale of an entire nation. Attachment to Judaism has always been derived from just such an intuitional attitude toward it. The various interpretations of Jewish doctrine and practice, the abstract values and concepts, are but the formal afterthoughts of that intuitional attitude

[Mordecai Kaplan, Judaism as a Civilization, p.180]

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(In Israel) Mutations of Judaism (Asa Kasher)

Asa Kasher is an Israeli philosopher who wrote many years ago the IDF code of ethics. His comments at FB about the recent election and the shape of the national religious right and the ultra orthodox as dominant social forms caused some controversy (among rightwing Israelis). I’m posting Kasher’s wods below. People did not like his use of the word “mutation,” but what Kasher said is basic and to recent dynamics and trends related to the radicalization of Judaism in Israel. The point about the racist radicalization of religious Zionism was underscored by traditional leadership in the Israeli branch of the old-guard religious Zionist movement, Bnei Akiva, as reported here. (The article traces some of the history of the movement and of the National Religious Party (NRP) before religious Zionism was taken over by the settlement project in the West Bank. It provides data about the popularity of the racist religious right represented by the ReligiousZionism/Jewish Power in so-called normal and mainline settlements),

Kasher’s point reflecs how once upon a time, the religious parties, the old National Religious Party and the Haredi parties represented a force of social conservativism. Today the public face of religious-orthodox Judaism institutes a force of radical and violent disruption about to assume a dominant postion at the center of political power. They are Nentanyahu’s “natural allies” in the so-called national camp, which is a national-religious camp. Netanyahu is the technician who brought the Kahanists together and organized them into a tight parliamentary bloc with the ultra-orthodox parties. Normal orthodox Jews in Israel and outside Israel will complain; and it is still too early to predict who will actually be sitting in the next ruling coalition; they still only represent 20% of the country. But the Kahanists and the ultra-rthodox are the two groups of people who represent in the Knesset the public political face of Judaism in Israel. Observers of religion inside and outside of Jewish Studies will note this as a “scientific” fact. About the mutation of Jewish religion in Israel over time, about orthodox Judaism over the last twenty years, there is nothing that Kasher said that is not empirically true.

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