End The Occupation and Celebrate Israel (Ayman Odeh)

I am not posting digital photos of the ugly spectacle this year at the 2023 Celebrate Israel parade in New York City: the huge and unthinking mass of rightwing American modern orthodox dayschool students and their teachers cursing and flipping off the small group of mostly Israelis at E. 60th Street and 5th Avenue who came to demonstrate in support of democracy and human rights for everyone.

Instead, I am posting this piece and quoting these words here at Ha’aretz by Ayman Odeh, commemorating the 56th anniversary of the 1967 war and occupation of the West Bank. They reflect, from Israel and against ethno-religious supremacist nationalism, a critical analysis of what a democratic Israel could be at its best.  

In a deeper sense, the occupation is the umbilical cord of Israeli fascism. In every other place in the world, fascism grows either out of big capital or out of the ranks of army generals, but here, both the generals and big capital oppose the overhaul of the system of government. Here, the source of fascism is the occupation and the settlements, where Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich and Simcha Rothman come from, and where their main support lies.

Therefore, the demand to end the occupation must be an integral part of the protest, based on the understanding that there is no democracy along with an occupation, and that the occupation needs the judicial overhaul to feed this self-perpetuating cycle.

I hope from the bottom of my heart that many will see fit to join this cause: Jews and Arabs, anyone who still harbors hope, but also people who feel a deep despair, who will perhaps see that in marching with us, they are not alone. Maybe they’ll gain some hope in this dark period. We have a duty to jointly raise the banner of peace, otherwise the…banner of the occupation will continue to fly.

Rather than celebrate Israel in faraway NYC, Odeh is an actual Israeli. What he is too politic to say, as it is maybe not for him to say, is that rightwing religion/orthodox Judaism is the umbilical cord of the occupation, the source of the fascism in Israel, where its main support lies, both over there and here in the United States.

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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