Fascism is bubbling in Israel, and that’s good news

The right-wing is attacking because it is afraid. And it is afraid because it is unsure if it’s right.

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Jun. 21, 2015 |

How is it that an obscure play put on by an obscure theater in an obscure language, which few people have seen or will see, has raised a storm that refuses to abate? Or that one word in the speech of an aging theater director became a national scandal? Or a documentary that nobody has seen, set to be screened at a film festival, also became a scandal? How is it that artists — most of whom have no impact whatsoever — were the target of such frenzied attacks?

Behind all this is the feeling of inferiority complexes and, mainly, insecurities about the rightness of their path. The purpose of turning each and every incident into a scandal is to divert attention from the real problems and incite the masses. Under the surface, however, are explanations from the realm of psychology.

Few Israeli Jews had heard of Al-Midan Theater. Oded Kotler and Yair Garbuz never influenced the masses. And even “Beyond the Fear,” the documentary about Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, will never become a blockbuster. Attacking them so harshly, supported apparently by most Israelis, actually shows the weakness of the attackers and their instability. These signs of heavy-handedness show an inherent fragility, although the right wing has long been victorious. Those who attack the minority of the minority, the weakest of the weak — an Arab theater in Haifa, for example — feel that something terrible is burning on the ground beneath their feet, on which they supposedly walk freely.

A right wing that is sure of its rightness does not need this. On the contrary, it would allow manifestations of subversiveness. What does it care, if it has justice and power on its side? A state sure of itself and the rightness of its path would not become hysterical every time it’s criticized by organizations or individuals lacking influence. After all, justice, truth and power are on its side. And a culture minister with no inferiority complex wouldn’t get excited over a critical work — after all, she has justice and power on her side. But when they’re unsure whether they’re right, they launch offenses — which is the best defense, especially for the weak.

You don’t have to be TV psychologist Varda Raziel Jacont to see it: Contrary to the impression we have, right-wing, nationalist Israel is like a leaf blowing in the wind. It has no real justification, sometimes not even to itself, and therefore becomes violent and aggressive. Populism and signs of fascism are proof of this. True, the victories of the right are piling up and the damage it does is accumulating. But that foundation is burning beneath its feet. Consciously or not, it is clear — also to the right — that something is fundamentally wrong here. Something wicked is frothing under the carpet. Therefore, anyone who tries to mention it, or tries to criticize it, to cast doubt or undermine the foundations of the inherent injustice, is to be ostracized.

This is the only way to explain the unbridled attacks on the Arab play “A Parallel Time,” the veterans’ organization Breaking the Silence; on Kotler and Garbuz; and even on a journalist who dares to write about Israel Air Force pilots doing despicable deeds during the Gaza war. These, after all, are statements by an insignificant minority — except the attacks on them show that the aggressive minority is afraid of them. If not, why the attacks? The right-wing is attacking because it is afraid. And it is afraid because it is unsure if it’s right.

Along with insecurity, of course, comes a sense of inferiority; these are signs of weakness. Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev attacked “the artists” — a generic name she uses for representatives of the old elites, those that she never belonged to — and her attack on them shows inferiority, not power.

This is relatively encouraging news. That’s the way the right’s raging behavior should be understood. At the moment, it may seem like the only game in town, a game that almost no one can stop. But in the long term, the metaphorical fire under its feet could climb higher. That’s how it is when you question your rightness.