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How Zionism is pitting Jewish parties against each other

The Arab parties have understood that they better stick together so that they don’t crash into pieces like the Jewish parties – all because of the hysteria over being the most Jewish-Zionist-Israeli of all.

By Gila Zamir / ‘The 7th Eye

Tzipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett (Photos by Activestills, GPO)

Tzipi Livni, Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett (Photos by Activestills, GPO)

A few years ago, a salad company aired a commercial that played on a famous rivalry between the owners of different hummus restaurants in the Arab town of Abu Ghosh. Each owner claimed that his restaurant was the “original Abu Shukri.” At the height of the rivalry, Jacque Cohen, a Mizrahi Jew and spokesperson for the salad company, succeeded in uniting the restaurants, bringing peace to the town and appropriating their brand to sell in supermarkets. Because hummus, as the slogan goes “is made with love, or isn’t made at all.” And we, of course, are the only nation that aspires to peace and loves hummus. The name of the company, as you may remember, was “Sabra.”

Eighteen years ago, Benjamin Netanyahu whispered to renowned Rabbi Kaduri that “the Left has forgotten what it is to be a Jew.” Netanyahu, who pounced on the prime ministership after Rabin’s murder, demanded that Jews who live in Israel must prove their Judaism: it isn’t enough to be Jewish according to halakha (Jewish law) or undergo circumcision. It turns out that there is a Likud Jewmeter that re-defines who is a Jew. Supporting Benjamin Netanyahu? Required. Becoming a fan of the Beitar Yerushalayim soccer team? Advisable.

Many of Israel’s residents failed to meet these new criteria, but it was too late: the competition over who is a real Jew had begun. Over the years, all of our principles and vital assets were pulled out of the national closet in order to re-define who is a Jew/Israeli/Zionist. As time passes, the different camps splinter off and the definitions become evermore distinct.

The Holocaust, which was seen as a holy, consensus issue, was also enlisted in order to connect Israelis to Judaism. In 1988 Avraham Hirschson, a Likud political operative, established the “March of the Living” project. Since then, many Israeli high schoolers have traveled to Nazi death camps just before their enlistment into the army. Whether the journey has enriched their Jewish-Israeli identity or has simply given them the opportunity to enjoy their time in Krakow is a subject of great debate.

March of the Living was good business for a variety of groups: from the army, which recruited soldiers who were motivated to save the Jewish people from another Holocaust, to travel companies and different businesses. Several years ago, Hirschson (who by that point became Israel’s finance minister) was asked to explain what happened to his luggage, which came back from Poland with large sums of cash. Hirschson was also accused of dipping into public funds for his own personal use, and was eventually sent to prison for five years.

Israeli high school students visit the Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. (Photo by Borzywoj / Shutterstock.com)

Israeli high school students visit the Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. (Photo by Borzywoj / Shutterstock.com)

As time went by, the Holocaust turned into an easy-to-use natural resource, especially when it came to mobilizing public opinion and emotional manipulations (“a Second Holocaust,” “Auschwitz borders,” “ghetto”). Holocaust survivors were forgotten in the national closet – they did not receive compensation; many of them lived in poverty and loneliness; and others were unable to scrape by on the bare minimum. The Holocaust is nice when it is used as a political tool, yelled during soccer games or tugs at the heartstrings of the non-Jews. But money? We need that for security, deepening Jewish identity and the prime minister’s travels outside the borders of the ghetto to prevent a Second Holocaust.

There was a war here last summer. Bombs were dropped everywhere, people died, were wounded and/or lost their homes and properties. Israelis took to the streets for another round in the competition over who is Jewish/Zionist. My Arab neighbor (we live in Haifa) told me: “When I saw my neighbor wrapped in an Israeli flag, yelling at protesters who were calling for maintaining public sanity (a Holocaust survivor among them): ‘You anti-Semitic Nazis! It’s a shame that they didn’t finish you off in the gas chambers of Auschwitz!’ I knew that I have nothing to worry about. You are the ones who must worry –  you are the ones who are not seen as Jewish and Zionist enough.”

“I am the real Zionist, and I will not apologize for that,” claim Bennett and his ilk; “I am a Zionist and I am not ashamed,” yells Miri Regev while waving an Israeli flag in the teachers’ room in Kfar Saba; “I am the real Zionist and they are the anti-,” says Netanyahu from his king-sized bed on his plane or from his pool in Caesarea; “No loyalty – no citizenship,” says Liberman, while his former party members sit in police investigation rooms; “We are the Zionist Camp,” say members of the ‘Zionist Camp/Labor/Hatnuah, while pledging allegiance in their viral videos; Yair Lapid is, obviously, the new Israeli, and the members of the ultra-Orthodox don’t really care, since they are the real Jews anyway.

Arab members of Knesset heeded Jacque Cohen’s call for unity. They understood that what isn’t done out of love for survival, isn’t done at all, and that they better stick together instead of crashing into pieces like the Yahud are doing, all due to the hysteria over being considered the most Jewish-Zionist-Israeli of all.

The ‘anti-Zionist’ camp goes mainstream in Israeli elections
WATCH: What do Israelis think being a Zionist means?

This article was first published in Hebrew by The 7th Eye media watchdog website. It is reproduced here with permission.

Special Coverage: 2015 Elections

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    1. A conscientious objector

      To all: Psychopathic personalities never get it. They never understand their own behavior. They never stop with the excuses. They never learn from experience. And of course they have no compunction about lying. You have to freeze them out. Any response to them no matter how true and just and deserved is just an opening for them. And they are always looking for an opening. Witness for example the scams that are rife on the internet. Witness the strange succession of new names here in last two days (icat… bigcat… daniel… barbara… ccdeville… etc) with no other purpose than to excuse themselves, blame others, and continue the same petty attacks and dishonesties. It’s all the same. It’s all intended to degrade the site. It is an attack therefore on this forum itself. The same rules apply. Almost always the best response is to say nothing. And the more nothing is said in reply the more effective that becomes as an answer. We can do this. Yes we can. And, together, defend standards of civility, decency and intelligence and maintain this forum for the good of all.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliana

        Yeah, exactly, a comic succession of new-old names popping up like weasels out of the sh!t pile: ICat xx Bigcat xx Barbara xx Daniel xx CCdevile… etc. etc. What a loser. “It’s not fair! Wah! I tried to humiliate Irit!…I won! I don’t care ignore me! Really! Please ignore me! sex! nazis! jews! fags! mohamed! Ignore me! Really! Please!” Loser. Pathetic.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      Much to the chagrin of the writer, Zionism is not an ugly word in Israel. Because of the realization of the goals of Zionism, Israel is a Jewish state in which Jewish culture, law and customs can be freely exercised.

      Israelis are not afraid to declare their nationalism and Zionism. Patriotism is a virtue in Israel. Politicians tap into the public’s love and support of Zionism. Each politician is proud to proclaim “Am Yisrael Chai”.

      If Labor calls itself the Zionist Party, there is nothing wrong with other parties proclaiming their own support of Zionism and the Nation State of Israel.

      If Israeli politicians cannot not proclaim that they are for Israel, who can?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Translation: “Move along folks! Nothing to see here! Keep moving folks! Heh heh. Everything’s fine and dandy folks! Go take in a movie! Take a stroll! Go have a drink! Lovely day isn’t it?…”

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          It is a lovely day when Labor goes back to its Mapai Zionist roots. It is a lovely day when Israeli politicians proclaim “Je Suis Zionist.” The Nation of Israel lives.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh wouldn’t it be great to have nostalgic time machine and go back and relive the “glory” days. And correct all the mistakes made too. Life is now. The challenges Israel and all it’s citizens face are now. What makes you think Gila Zamir strives any less than you do for the life of the people of Israel? Who are you to don an exclusive mantle that she’s not allowed to claim? It’s only in the Likud and Bayit Yehudi Jewmeter that she registers less patriotic.

            Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        Well said Pedro. “Zionism is not an ugly word in Israel. Because of the crimes of Zionism, (ethnic cleansing, the nakba, apartheid rule in the occupied territories) Israel is a Jewish state in which Jewish culture, law and customs can be freely exercised (by the non-indigenous citizens.)” But there is one teeny-weeny problem with the argument – Jewishness is about internationalism, universalism, the Diaspora, repairing the world, respect for minorities, respect for human rights, diversity, social justice, peace, liberty, equality and the fraternity of all humankind – not about seeking asylum with a chosen bunch of bigots in a military enclave.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Bruce Gould

      There’s healthy patriotism and then there’s unhealthy patriotism. At some point one has to say “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”, as Joseph Welch said to McCarthy. But ‘Goliath’ captures the mood in Israel accurately, I think, and provides a nice counterpoint to this article.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Tzvika

      Thank you. Good hard hitting piece. And how many times on this site have some posters turned on the Likud Jewmeter, and the manipulations, and tugged at the heart strings of the non-Jews? “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.” -Hillel

      Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn4

      The Arab parties got together to save their jobs while uniting around a flag of being anti-Israel. They managed to get around all their religious and ideological differences on the basis of their shared hatred of Israel. That motive is apparently stronger than all their pretend ideologies. Great example to follow. Very progressive notion there.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Mikesailor

      For some reason, perhaps because they have been discriminated against, stolen from, brutalized, killed and humiliated by Zionists, the Joint List does not see a future siding with any Zionist party. It must be because they are “antisemitic”. Right? What a wonderfully disingenuous fascist you make, K-4. The Joint List is actually offering the Jews a way out from that dead-end racist ideology of Zionism. But you are too blind and stupid to realize that a political philosophy based on the supposed religious/ethnic/cultural supremacy of one group over another based only on the barrel of a gun is a twin to the political philosophy that killed so many 70+ years ago.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn4

        No, it is because they hate Israel and wish to see it eliminated, and as such they would have a hard time sitting in any coalition with parties that think Israel should continue to exist. It is very hard to come up with any way that could possibly work.

        The Joint List offers the Jews nothing because all they can agree on is that ideally they wish to undermine Israel and turn its Jewish population into a defenseless minority. And indeed their reasoning behind this desire is based on their belief in the religious/ethnic/cultural supremacy of the Arabs over the Jews. You nailed that one on the head, but no I am not blind to it at all.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mikesailor

      K-4: Who has been killing civilians by the thousands since before 1948? Not the Palestinians. Who has been stealing land since the 1920’s? Not the Palestinians. Who came in as European interlopers bent on creating an ethnocentric state dispossessing the indigenous inhabitants? Not the Palestinians. What the Joint List offers the Jews is the ability to forge a new polity with equal rights and responsibilities for all its citizens. To do this and move into the modern era, the Jews must give up their idea of privilege and immunity for criminal actions committed by Jews against non-Jews. Is that so hard to comply with? A secular state for all or a continuation of the fascist path Israel has embarked upon? I would think that the offer of normality, of redressing the wrongs committed against a people whose only crime was living on land European Jews coveted is long overdue. The only sacrifice Jews are asked to give up is their racism and xenophobia. Too you that may be too high a price, but the reckoning is coming faster than you think and for Israel as it is, justice won’t be pretty.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Piotr Berman

      Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most Zionist of them all?

      Lips red as the rose. Hair black as ebony. Skin white as snow. Ayelet Shaked!

      Reply to Comment