Are Israel’s Jews, some of them, on their way to becoming Nazis?

Some and perhaps many will regard my headline question as offensive but I make no apology for asking it; and I take comfort from the fact that my decision to pose it is fully supported by one of my very dear Jewish friends – Nazi holocaust survivor Dr. Hajo Meyer.

Before I ran my proposed headline past him, I was well aware that he believes, and has said in public, that the Nazis sought to dehumanize him in the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Zionists are seeking to dehumanize the Palestinians in their own land.

When I asked him if he thought my proposed headline question should be asked, he said “Yes, absolutely.” He added: “Zionism is to modern enlightened Judaism what Nazism was to Germany’s traditional ethical values.” (One of Hajo’s most important books is titled An Ethical Tradition Betrayed, The End of Judaism).

The headline was provoked in my mind at the end of October by the announcement that with the approach of next January’s election, Israel’s ruling Likud party led by Prime Minister Netanyahu is joining forces with Yisrael Beiteinu, the ultra-nationalist group led by Avigdor Lieberman, the extreme-right foreign minister in the present coalition government.

As noted by Larry Derfner (who was fired from The Jerusalem Post for telling some truths on his web site), “Lieberman has a thoroughly deserved international reputation as an Arab-hating, war-loving, neo-fascist”. (Derfner also noted that the label “neo-fascist” was pinned on Lieberman by Martin Peretz, “the stridently pro-Israel, ex-publisher of The New Republic.”)

Fascism is one of those concept words with meaning that depends to some extent on what is happening at a particular moment in history. Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini and Spain under Franco were fascist states. The hallmarks of this fascism were governments dominated by dictators with magnetic personalities, who rallied their followers with messages which appealed to strident nationalism and promoted suspicion or hatred of both foreigners and “impure” people within their own nations (mainly Jews in Hitler’s case).

Today the term fascist is generally used to describe governments or individual leaders (as well as military dictatorships) which practice racism even if they do not preach it, and act in an arbitrary, self-righteous way in defiance of international law.

In October 2010, Uri Avnery wrote a warning piece with the headline Weimar In Jerusalem: The Rise of fascism in Israel. He concluded that Israel was not yet the “goose-stepping” Germany of Hitler’s days but could become something very like it unless Israeli society mobilized the democratic forces within itself. He added: “But for that to happen, it must awake from the coma, understand what is happening and where it is leading to, protest and struggle by all available means – as long as that is still possible – in order to arrest the fascist wave that is threatening to engulf us.”

Two years on Netanyahu’s deal with Lieberman is surely an indication that the wave is gathering strength.

One of the most chilling reactions to their decision to make common cause for election purposes was that of Azriel Livnat. Who is he? A former senior member of Lehi, the Zionist terrorist organization also known as the Stern Gang (which offered to join forces with Hitler’s Nazis), and the father of Likud’s Limor Livnat, the current Minister of Culture & Sport. In an interview on 30 October with Israel’s Channel 7, the settlers’ main media outlet, Azriel Livnat said this:

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