(Mutation) Political Judaism & Anti-Arab Racism (Lod)

I am watching this from the outside and at a distance, but the more events unfold in the violence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians it appears more and more prominent that the violence is not simply between “Jews and Arabs.” On the Israeli side reports are coming in that chief institagors are the kahanist racists associated with Itamar Ben Gvir and settlers coming in from the West Bank to cause mayhem in Israel. On the one hand, the violence is multi-faceted and dynamic. On the other hand, the violence is organized by non-state religious racists whose political projects and leaders are backed up by the state and society.

Analytically, it is important to focus attention. There is [1] the complex swell that is modern Jewish history and the history of Zionism and the State of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. [2] The emergence of the settlement project in the occupied West Bank, the history of religious Zionism as a particular ideological and religious formation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [3] The radicalization of religious Zionism and of racism in Israel since the Jewish Underground in the 1980s, the murder of Muslim worshippers in Hebron by Baruch Goldstein and the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in the 1990s, the “Judaization” of Israeli politics in the 2000s and the emergence of fascist and racist political elements in Israeli governing circles.

How much of the currently ongoing radical anti-Arab violence and racism in Israel roots itself in this emergent form of political Judaism that runs rough shod over the state function that gave it its political lease on life? Without absolving the government of Netanyahu of the ultimate responsibility as state sovereign, and as the singular politician who has done so much himself to cultivate anti-Arab incitement, tear down and demonize the left and center-left, and prop up the religious right in Israel while tearing down civil governance in order to maintain his grip in power and stay out of jail, it would still seem a lot.

This article here and the following quote from the leftwing +972 suggests as much. Religious settlers are coming in from the West Bank to create havoc in places like Lod and other towns in Israel; and the police and Border Police do little to stop them. This is the same violent, state-coddled, state-sponsored anti-Palestinian havoc they create in the West Bank:  

The Palestinian residents who I interviewed on Wednesday repeated what I was told by youth participating in the riots. Their problem isn’t with Jewish people, but with the settlers who have been coming in and taking over the city over the past several years with the mayor’s blessing, they said. “We have been living here for decades with religious and Jewish people, there are good neighborly relations, but they [the settlers] are coming for war,” said one of the Palestinian residents.

As does the report about a top Israeli police official blaming Ben-Gvir for the key role in whipping up making the anti-Arab violence worse. Netanyahu it should be remembered did everything to get the racist Religious Zionism party elected into the Knesset and did so by pulling in Ben-Gvir and the Kahanists.

This thread here at Twitter by Breaking the Silence supports as well that contention about Ben-Gvir.

Turning citizen against citizen is at the heart of the issue in Israel. The non-citizenship and statelessness of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are also there at the heart of this inferno, the non-recognition of Palestinians and Palestine in Israeli society. The point that I want to make concerns the super-hot impact of political religion and political Judaism on state function and civil society. Religion is a potential and actual force of political chaos that needs to be contained. As much as Zionism distorts Judaism, it’s as true that Judaism is also a problem, that Political Judaism distorts Zionism, and that this is a Gordian knot that needs to be cut. Religion makes everything worse.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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2 Responses to (Mutation) Political Judaism & Anti-Arab Racism (Lod)

  1. dmf says:

    literally speaking

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