It is now a worldwide phenomenon that left-wingers and increasing numbers of liberals chant the mantra that Israel is led by extremists and becoming transformed into a full-fledged fascist state. Unfortunately, such unadulterated nonsense is expressed daily and is highlighted in Haaretz, the Israeli post-Zionist daily newspaper, illustrating the primitive measures even Jewish opponents of our government are willing to take in order to demonize the Jewish state.
Their defamation includes accusations of war crimes and deliberate killing of children, applying apartheid to the Arab Israeli minority, suppressing freedom of expression and maintaining an occupation and denying Palestinian statehood. In a nutshell — a fascist regime.
Joseph Goebbels demonstrated that if one constantly repeats false propaganda without responses, people begin to accept the lies as truths.
My objective, without suggesting that we are perfect, is to briefly identify and rebut such lies and demonstrate that there is no country in the world that surpasses the level of democracy by which Israel is governed.
In addition, the extraordinary success of Israel’s democratic system is all the more impressive because it was achieved despite facing three major obstacles:
- From its inception, Israel has been surrounded by states committed to its destruction. These neighbor states are notorious for denying basic human rights to their own citizens and in most cases are Islamic dictatorships. Over the past five years, the region has reverted to the Dark Ages with hundreds of thousands being killed and millions displaced in intra-Arab conflicts. In this context, Israel represents an oasis of stability and peace.
- Israel has been obliged to allot a greater proportion of its budget for defense than any other nation. It is situated on the global front lines combating terrorism and must be in permanent readiness to face wars from its fanatical adversaries who remain committed to terminating Jewish sovereignty.
- Israel is a young country that was created as a haven for Jews living under oppression or discrimination. The bulk of its founding population were survivors from the Holocaust, Jews escaping persecution from Arab countries, Russian Jews and others fleeing oppression. They range from sophisticated Russian scientists to Ethiopian farmers. Yet this motley amalgam of Jews from all corners of the world became integrated into an extraordinary nation and nurtured an exemplary democratic state.
But the drumbeat of demonization and delegitimization ignores these factors:
- The current government is accused of being fascist and blamed for the failed peace process. The fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered concessions far beyond the red lines that the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin vowed he would never cross and that he has offered to negotiate without preconditions has been repeatedly ignored.
- The majority of Europeans believe that Israel is a fascist state carrying out ghoulish genocidal policies against the Palestinians and even make obscene analogies between Israel’s self-defense and Nazi behavior. That is a true extension of medieval blood libels.
- The accusations of racism and apartheid are bizarre. There are social and economic gaps between Jews and Arabs that require improvement. But Israeli Arabs enjoy freedom of expression, elect their own Knesset members and Arab judges even preside in the Supreme Court. Indeed, visiting an Israeli hospital, shopping mall or park provides a case study of integration.
- Another ludicrous lie is that fascist forces are rapidly destroying freedom of expression. Much of this emanates from delusionary far left elements and is highlighted in Haaretz, which is probably the most effective source of anti-Israeli propaganda for our global adversaries. When the culture minister said she would no longer provide public funds for “cultural” activities that principally vilify Israel, she was accused of fascism. When the education minister refused to include in the school curriculum a controversial novel containing praise for Hamas that would offend many Israelis, that too was labeled fascism. The education minister was also accused of fascism for denying entry into schools to Breaking the Silence, an organization that promotes global campaigns besmirching the IDF with anonymous accusations of war crimes.
- The Israeli Supreme Court generates both pride and anger. Pride because it is a powerful instrument challenging abuse but also anger because it is undoubtedly the most interventionist High Court in any democracy. It is frequently accused of excessively blocking legislative processes. It would certainly not qualify for inclusion in a fascist state.
- There is unbridled freedom of expression. When institutions such as universities, funded by taxpayers and Zionist philanthropists, are used as platforms to undermine the legitimacy of the state, many sober Israelis have called for tougher legislation related to subversion and treason. Could one visualize any other government under siege that would tolerate the treasonable outbursts expressed by Arab MK Haneen Zoabi identifying with those seeking Israel’s destruction? Imagine how Winston Churchill would have reacted if a British politician publicly defended the Nazis. Yet Israel is accused of restricting freedom of expression.
- It is alleged that Israel’s settlement policies breach international law and are thus also condemned as manifestations of fascist ideology. Yet aside from Jerusalem, these settlements consist of less than 3% of territories previously occupied by Jordan. Today, the only place in the civilized world where a Jew is considered a criminal for building or extending a home is in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem — which our adversaries insist must be Judenrein irrespective of what is ultimately determined in relation to the disputed territories. We are told that a Jew building a second bedroom in a legitimately purchased apartment in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem is a war criminal and represents an obstacle to peace.
- The latest objection relates to the recent legislation requiring transparency for funds directed towards Israeli nongovernmental organizations by foreign governments. These NGOs played a prominent role in disseminating lies about Israel, seeking to depict it as a fascist state, accusing it of war crimes, apartheid, genocide, and some even promoting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. These so called human rights organizations have provided huge sums of money and maintain a massive network to promote their agenda of demonization and delegitimization of Israel. It is unprecedented that purported friendly foreign governments pour huge sums into NGOs seeking to besmirch and overthrow our democratically elected government. The government is responding by obliging any NGO receiving the bulk of its funds from foreign governments to provide disclosure. This represents a symbolic gesture and the howls of denying freedom of speech (which is not involved) and renewed accusations of fascism are hollow. The greatest chutzpah was the reaction of American and European lawmakers condemning Israel for such a move. It would be inconceivable for any of these governments to stand by and fail to react if their neighbors were pouring in funds to local NGOs to demonize and vilify them.
To sum up, despite the overwhelming challenges, Israel remains one of the liveliest democracies in the world.
Little can be done to change the behavior of our enemies. The anti-Semitic Islamists, the delusionary Left and conventional anti-Semites will continue to pursue, through the hostile media and the internet, the perennial accusation that Jews – or today, the Jewish state — are the source of all evil.
What is disconcerting is that with U.S. President Barack Obama’s encouragement, much of this propaganda is beginning to penetrate American liberal circles, including some people who were deeply supportive of Israel. This already includes the left wing of the Democratic Party and there are ominous signals that bipartisanship in the U.S. may not survive the onslaught.
It thus essential to constantly speak out and refute the lies and communicate with open-minded liberals, especially young people, to prevent them from being drawn into the left-wing anti-Israeli maelstrom where they can be brainwashed into believing the lies about Israelis becoming fascists. That will not be achieved by remaining silent or obsessively maintaining a bipartisan relationship by accepting the lowest common denominator.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom