Hanan Hever: The demasking Law

By Hanan Hever, Haaertz – 12 Nov 2010 (Hebrew)
Translated by Lia Tarachansky, distributed by email

[Translator’s note:  Please forgive my poor translation skills…  Hanan Hever is the father of Shir Hever, author of The Political Economy of the Israeli Occupation.]

The Loyalty oath law supports the stance of all the Zionist parties; It demasks the take over of fascism in Israel.

The new citizenship law is a good law. According to the latest trends, it works in the interests of Israel. First of all, it makes clear the state of affairs in the country, that in the past year or rather since the summer of 2010, the country’s fascist side strengthens. It will increase the international pressure on Israel and it looks like it may be the only thing that can rescue Israel from the current bleak state of affairs.

In essence, we aren’t talking about a revolutionary law. It doesn’t stand in opposition to the declaration of independence, rather it ratifies it. It is also not opposed to the position of all the Zionist parties. And hence, when the host of the Army Radio evening show, Yaron Velinsky tried to gather from Tzipi Livni (as from other opponents) why she opposes the law he got only verbal acrobatics. Even Ehud Barak attempted to add to the Loyalty Oath the declaration of independence, he did not differ from Avigdor Lieberman, and certainly not from Benjamin Netanyahu. He only strengthened the tight connection between the law and the declaration of independence. And indeed all the Zionist parties, including SHAS, revolve around the contradictory model of a “Jewish and democratic state”, when it is obvious that the country being Jewish must come at the expense of it being democratic.

Jewishness, that is race and ethnicity as outlined in religion, is an essential element to reciving equal rights in Israel. That means that the new law makes clear to non-Jews who wish to join that they will be doing so as inferior tenants and that the Jewish Israeli society is built on the basis of religious purity of blood, or strict religious practice. Therefore, Israel, despite its statments, is essentially a Jewish nation and is not democratic. It is one who occupies another nation while discriminating against its Arab citizens.

In fact, most of the parties agree to this. Therefore the difference between them and Lieberman is only in that he does what they appear to suppress but in essence, and with a wink, approve. That is, they don’t object but prefer to hide behind a mask of democracy. So Minister Yitzhak Herzog’s opposition to the law isn’t opposition to the disastrous concept of a “Jewish and democratic” country, but opposition to the concept being openly revealed.

All this also explains why fascism will and is already coming here. The basis of democracy is gone, among others due to the laws of emergency; because of the break in legitimacy of an active and critical parliamentary system; populism, nationalism, and xenophobia towards minorities; the making of an all-purpose government and an all out war against anyone who undermines the country’s founding myth – are the core of fascism here. The new law suggests, like fascism, a vision of totalitarian revival of ethnic nationalism.

Lieberman reads the political map clearly and understands that the Zionist parties will not be able to stop the process of suppressing democracy for ethnicity. But that they support his bending of democracy for Jewish ethnocentrism. Netanyahu, it seems, won’t be taking a strong position and then it will only take the foreseeable economic crisis for Lieberman to come out as the leader of a fascist Israel.

The only hope to stopping fascism won’t come from within. The weakening of liberal and democratic forces, trapped in the grip of their theological commitment to the Jewishness of the nation, is the first sign. In fact, examples in 20th century of fascism actually being stopped from within rather than from external war are rare. Therefore as the fascist face of the nation is unmasked more, the external forces will grow, whether through the growing economic boycott or by other means. So the Loyalty Oath law and the string of laws that will come after it (the Nakba Law, the Boycott Law, and others), will only strengthen the international pressure on Israel and only then, maybe, salvation will come.

Hanan Hever is a professor of Hebrew literature and the Hebrew University.

Back to Top

Readers are welcome to discuss IOA content on our Facebook page. To participate, please click HERE.