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Netanyahu's embrace of far-right leaders leaves Jews vulnerable to anti-Semitism

By aligning himself with nationalist leaders who foster white supremacy, Netanyahu has abandoned world Jewry in a bid to bolster his own nationalist machinations.

By Rachel Shenhav-Goldberg

US President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to Trump departure to Rome at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 23, 2017. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

U.S. President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Tel Aviv, May 23, 2017. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

For some years now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been forming close diplomatic relations with far-right nationalist world leaders. This alignment might promote Netanyahu’s plan to strengthen Jewish nationalism in Israel, but it concomitantly weakens diaspora Jews and makes them more vulnerable to anti-Semitism and hate crimes in their own countries.

Over the last five decades, anti-Semitism was in decline, particularly in the United States. Jews in the United States occupy powerful political positions, are key figures in the worlds of business and entertainment, are well integrated into American society. They are American in every sense of the word. However, as the horrific act of terror in a San Diego synagogue painfully reminded us last week, white nationalists and white supremacists have never accepted Jews as equals — or even as white.

White supremacy definitely still exists. Destroying 500 years of institutional structures and the internalization of privileged status is not that easy. Even the election of President Obama was in many ways merely a facade of progressiveness — a false hope. Research has shown that racism against black Americans actually increased during President Obama’s time in office. Furthermore, President Trump’s promise to “make America great again” gave white nationalists and white supremacists a nod to raise their heads and act.

The Anti-Defamation League reported that in the past year, a total of 1,879 incidents of harassment, vandalism, and physical assault were committed against Jews in the United States. This represents the third-highest number of reported incidents since the 1970s.

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Netanyahu’s policies and vision for Israel, alongside his narcissism and ambition to stay in power forever, have create divisions not only inside Israeli society but also between Israel and American Jews. Netanyahu’s idea of Israel is not a Jewish nation with equal rights for all, but as an Israeli-Jewish nation — abandoning both non-Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

Further, Netanyahu’s my-way-or-the-highway worldview turns American Jews who oppose the occupation or who do not fully support Israeli policies into traitors. To replace the real or anticipated loss of their support, he has looked for allies elsewhere — ones who are comfortable with Israel’s own nationalist underpinnings.

The common denominator between all these leaders — Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, and Donald Trump — is the often-insinuated but at times overt support of white national supremacy. They endorse and employ hate rhetoric, use racist terms, and undermine the rights of LGBTQ people and women. Their true goal is the promotion of the “old order” — demoting the position of and discriminating against minorities, a category that inescapably and invariably includes Jews.

The national supremacy these leaders promote in their countries is in many ways indistinguishable from Netanyahu’s agenda for Israel. Netanyahu is an intelligent man; every move he makes is calculated wisely and strategically. By aligning himself with far-right nationalist leaders who foster white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and the violence they produce, he has decided to abandon world Jewry in exchange for diplomatic support and the legitimization of his own nationalist machinations.

Israel has become a Jewish state that cares only for Jewish-Israeli citizens, breaking its commitment to protect diaspora Jews, not to mention its obligations to the non-Jews living under Israeli rule.

Rachel Shenhav-Goldberg is an Israeli living in North America. She has a PhD in social work from Tel Aviv University and a post-doctorate from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on anti-racism in Israel and anti-Semitism in North America. She is also a group facilitator, practices social work, and volunteers with the New Israel Fund in Canada.

 

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    COMMENTS

    1. Lewis from Afula

      Trump is a Far Right White Nationalist ?
      But his daughter is Jewish, his grandkids are Jews !
      A third of his administration are Jewish-Americans !
      His chief financial supporter is a Jew (Adelson)

      I sometimes think some people (eg this author) live in a parallel universe to the one where I inhabit.
      As Spock says:
      Its life, Jim
      But NOT as we know it.

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        antisemitism is congruent with zionism.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        It bears repeating: your chief technique is to dumb things down and then knock down the cretinous straw man you have set up. Of course Trump (Drumpff is the real family name) is a racist. A very sleazy, obvious kleinbuergerlich racist, and a garden-variety anti-Semite. You should know that Trump had a hard time swallowing Ivanka’s marrying a Jew (he seems to have preferred a white Christian baseball player). He swallowed it, opportunistically as he does everything, but trades in all sorts of cheap anti-Semitic tropes all the time.

        Is Trump a hard core, fanatic anti-Semite? Probably not. What Trump really is, is a totally unprincipled pathological narcissist, an opportunist, a manipulative demagogue, who uses anti-Semitic and other blatantly racist dog whistling all the time to further his only real concern in life: Donald Trump. In other words, cheat someone?, stiff people who work for you?, assault people sexually and demagogically and lie about it?, cynically lie about birtherism?, be egregiously racist?, call totally fine, hard-working Mexican immigrants rapists on national TV?, encourage anti-Semites while using plausibly deniable (to the base, not to anyone with a mind and an education) techniques? Sure? Why not? It’s what you do if you want to be a “success.” You screw people over. “Cuz it’s all about me.”

        Here is the thing: Trump is willing to harm anyone (when he can get away with it) to solve his own problems in life. Netanyahu is the same.

        These things are obvious—I should not have to tell you which direction the sun comes up in the morning. If you do not know these things you are not reading many other things besides not reading Haaretz.

        I think it is even worse than the author describes. Netanyahu has not only abandoned world Jewry in exchange for diplomatic support and the legitimization of his own nationalist machinations, Netanyahu actually secretly wants to see anti-Semitic incidents, all the more to further his aims. I think when Netanyahu gets his news brief in the morning and hears of another anti-Semitic incident, he sees that as money in the bank. He is that cynical and that selfish. I think he is that willing to harm almost anyone to further his own personal aims.

        Reply to Comment
        • Tommy Goldberg

          “Drumpff is the real family name”

          Not that it matters, but the historical record is MUCH too thin to make this claim with any degree of certainty. It’s only certain that the name was already Trump when Donald’s grandfather was born in the Palatine town of Kallstadt, where today a lot of Trumps but no Drumpfs live.

          The German Wikipedia dropped any reference to Drumpf after being unable to source the alleged name.

          Just mentioning it so you don’t give hasbara Trumpers an easy opening.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Yes, they see Israel as a model for them of racial domination and ethic rule. Let me repeat, white nationalists see Israel as a MODEL for them. (And they get to tell the Jews in their own countries to go there, “where they belong” — or as Halevy says, “their true place.”)

          Reply to Comment
    2. itshak Gordine

      Mr. Netanyahu makes Jews more proud and stronger (This is how a true Jew must be). If Jews from abroad are victims of increasing anti-Semitism, I recommend that they move their ass and come to Israel, which is their true place. After it may be too late … The head of the Israeli government is not going to endanger the future of the country and deny its history and millennial traditions so as not to interfere with diasporic Jews probably assimilated into their country in a very temporary comfort

      Reply to Comment
      • john

        ‘jews go to israel’ written like a true antisemite.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        What makes you any better than a kleinbürgerlich1930s German prattling that “Unser Adolf macht die Deutschen stolz und stärker. So muss ein wahrer Deutscher sein.” The question is about WHAT Jews should be proud of, not IF they should be proud. Moron.

        Reply to Comment
        • itshak Gordine

          We are proud of our successes in all areas and proud of our millennial traditions that have endured for centuries and have done what we are. Proud of our rescue teams who go around the world to help people in distress. Proud that leaders from all over the world visit Jerusalem, our unified capital, proud to see our enemies collapse as we surrender each day more and finally proud of our youth who love and serve their country. All the rest is blah blah..

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Halevy, it’s interesting in a creepy, hair-raising way to watch you come out, so to speak, the bland religious nationalist settler giving way to the ruthless, cold, hard core, hard-edged extremist. Who is proud of stealing land, proud of heartlessly denying human rights, proud of subjecting another people to brutal military subjugation in the service of his “millenial traditions,” proud of treating others as untermenschen, proud of the “collapse” and the ultimate solution he envisions he is crafting (all of which he quickly dismisses and shoves under wraps as “all the rest,” as “blah blah…”) –all so reminiscent of some similar fanatics in the 1930s. An almost unbearable historical irony.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            There is a difference between “pride” and supremacism.

            I especially love the marvelous hypocrisy of the hasbaratic “Proud of our rescue teams who go around the world to help people in distress,” while black non-Jews in distress, who you don’t even have to go anywhere to help, but who you feel contaminate your purity, and who serve no show-offy, public relations “look at how great we are” bonanza, you utterly begrudge helping, and treat like this:

            Provide asylum seekers with heaters, rights groups demand in court
            https://972mag.com/provide-asylum-seekers-with-heaters-rights-groups-demand-in-court/101217/

            And while Israel sells lucrative arms to the dictators and marauders who make life miserable for people elsewhere (see recent +972 article among others)–arms tested on captive Palestinians–“but don’t look at that, it’s nothing, so much blah blah, look over here instead, did you see the great Israeli sniffer dog teams digging out earthquake victims?!, so picturesque!, I tell you we Israelis are so great, so competent and so humane! Look!” But when it comes to making a secure peace? “Oh we are so helpless, sigh, whatever can we do except make more settlements? Nothing to see here.”

            Reply to Comment
          • itshak Gordine

            I persist and sign: you are the specialist of blah blah. We do not steal anything. On the contrary, we fight against those who want to steal our historical, national and religious heritage. You cannot understand, but it’s like that. Minorities can live in peace in Israel by working and enjoying all the benefits of a modern state, but they must respect our sovereignty and our laws, such as a Swiss living in the USA.
            Israel is a country of freedom and not a gulag. Those who are not happy (whatever their religion is) are free to leave. Some Israeli leftists, for example, went to Berlin (where Jews are beaten by Muslims) because they felt happier than in Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            “such as a Swiss living in the USA.
            Israel is a country of freedom and not a gulag “

            Halevy, just saying such things does not make them true. They are wildly, plainly false. Believable only by a glazed-eyed fanatic, a member of a cult. If I you say the moon is made of green cheese it doesn’t make that true either.

            The entity comprising Israel and the territories it occupies is fact a kind of gulag and the Palestinians are not treated anything like the way Swiss anywhere are treated. The very assertion of yours is brazenly dishonest.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            There is a difference between “pride” and supremacism, and this difference is apparently lost on you.

            I especially love the marvelous hypocrisy of the hasbaratic “Proud of our rescue teams who go around the world to help people in distress,” while black non-Jews in distress, who you don’t even have to go anywhere to help, but who you feel contaminate your purity, and who serve no show-offy, public relations “look at how great we are” bonanza, you utterly begrudge helping, and treat like this:

            Provide asylum seekers with heaters, rights groups demand in court
            https://972mag.com/provide-asylum-seekers-with-heaters-rights-groups-demand-in-court/101217/

            Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        Black Americans tried that too. Look up “Liberia.” It didn’t work too well.

        I want you to consider something. Post-WWII, how many Jews have died in (non-Soviet Bloc) Western & Central Europe as a result of anti-Semitic violence? And how many Jews have died in the Middle East, as a result of this ludicrous conflict? Who, then, has proven better at protecting Jew: Israel or the West?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Victor Gilinsky

      “Israel has become a Jewish state that cares only for Jewish-Israeli citizens, breaking its commitment to protect diaspora Jews, . . . .”
      We non-Israeli Jews don’t need protection from Israel. We only wish it did not claim to speak for us, thereby rousing antipathy. Indeed, what anti-semitism there is in the world, is driven almost entirely by association with Israel and its behavior in violation of international norms. This is exacerbated by Israeli colonization, most notably the US, of Jewish organizations, whose leaderships spout the Israeli party line, in opposition to the opinions of most US Jews. And as for who protects whom, it’s obvious that Israel is fixed on protection or advantage for itself, and has shown over and over (think for example of the plight of Argentine Jews during the “dirty war”) that it is ready to sacrifice the local Jews. In time, Israel will have to answer for its actions and take the consequences. Meanwhile, to paraphrase Sam Goldwyn, please include us out.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        I think we are going to see more intelligent, knowing, discerning renunciations such as this by Victor Gilinsky as time goes on.

        The right talks tough about how this doesn’t matter and good riddance and they don’t need America, but when the downstream effects cascade on American politicians, and not just the defense funding but other streams start to dry up, I think the tune will be different. We are entering a new age within and without Israel and this age is marked by a pulling apart, a divergence between within and without. It didn’t have to be this way. Israel was very popular and liked and supported by Europe and America up until the past two decades. So the divergence can’t be blamed on “age old” anti-Semitism but on the process described by Victor.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Israel does not need America. US is terminally bankrupt with its economy running on fumes. Sustained high inflation, very high unemployment and all the economic data is heavily fudged by lies on top of lies. These statistical fibs are a product of both parties’ manipulations over the last 30 years.

          It is for these reasons, that America is highly polarised politically into 2 warring sides. The only divergence I see is the USA experiencing some form of civil war 2.

          As far as changes in Europe, I see most French, British, Germans and others now grasping the true nature of Islam. I think 2015 was the turning point. This is a hopeful new sign in a changing Global environment.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            What fumes are you inhaling?

            Reply to Comment
    4. JW500

      How many white supremacists have targeted and killed Jews in the world and how many Muslims have? Hint, Muslims “win” massively. Netanyahu should find allies who deal with the greatest enemies of Jews. In America, putting aside 9-11 and similar events, white supremacists have killed a number of Jews because we few Muslims here compared to other nations. If 10% of the population was Muslim, then Muslims would dominate in the anti-Semitic attacks. Already, Muslims and their leftist allies dominate in anti-Semitism on campuses compared to white supremacists.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        It is not a contest. It is simple-minded and evasive to imply it is or to imply that genocidal white supremacism is somehow minor and insubstantial. You are engaging in vilification of one party and not another, as a distraction technique that unconsciously appeals to the very white supremacist racism you claim is a minor threat.

        While the U.S. president has condemned “hate” and “anti-Semitism” in general terms, he has yet to acknowledge that conspiratorial “white genocide” theories have become as deadly as the ideology that ISIS and its counterparts worked to spread across the globe.
        “We need to recognize that white supremacy is a global terror threat,” Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in one of his many media appearances following Saturday’s Poway tragedy. “There is a throughline from Charleston to Pittsburgh to Christchurch to San Diego County.”
        https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-white-supremacist-terror-is-a-global-epidemic-but-trump-won-t-even-name-it-1.7182733

        Reply to Comment
    5. Nathanael

      That’s the *idea*, of course. It’s deliberate Netenyahu policy to spread anti-Semitism abroad, to try to make it unsafe for Jews in the Diaspora, in order to try to spread the lie that Israel is their only hope.

      In reality, Jews are safer in Iran than in Israel. Netenyahu, like all fascist leaders in Israel, hates this visible sign that Israel is not the only option, so he attempts to gin up as much anti-Iranian hatred as possible. Jews are much, much safer in the US than in Israel, so Netenyahu supports anti-Semitic hate groups in the US to try to change that. He has made Israel into one of the biggest promoters of anti-Semitism in the world.

      It is perfectly logical from Netenyahu’s racist, power-hungry mentality.

      Reply to Comment
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