The rise of alarming trends in Israel raises fears for the fate of the democratic regime
by Doron b. Cohen
Franco. Fascist Spain, unlike Israel, had no enemy
In the last year, we have witnessed the increase of alarming phenomena in Israeli society, which are increasingly accumulating into a trend, which, for lack of a more appropriate name, can be called a quasi-fascist trend. Most of these phenomena are not new, and their roots can be found in Israeli society since time immemorial. What is worrying is the increasing proximity of their appearance, and their gradual intensification, to the point of fearing the fate of the democratic regime in the State of Israel.
Among these phenomena we can mention: the strengthening of national feelings that are increasingly taking on a nationalist tone, the deepening militarization of society and the leadership, the emphasis on national uniqueness and its superiority over other nationalities, the feeling and belief that "the whole world" is wrong and only we are right, the use of religion to strengthen nationalist feelings, Longing for a strong leader
and belief in the power of such a leader to save us from all ills, the government's takeover of the media, deliberate and voluntary censorship of intellectuals and the media, threats of violence against "perverts" of all kinds and its use to varying degrees, seeing a different opinion as "treason", the existence of a certain militant minority in his righteousness and drags the submissive majority after him, illegal actions of the branches of government, a sense of the dissolution of legal control and the independence of the judicial system, persecution of minorities and limitation of their rights, attribution of all difficulties to a satanic enemy - from home and abroad - and casting all anxieties on him, dehumanization of the enemy.
These and other phenomena are typical of fascist societies, as they developed in different parts of the world during the twentieth century. But if there is one thing the twentieth century has proven, it is that fascism, despite the overwhelming enthusiasm it inspires, is essentially futile, and ultimately destined for failure. Fascist societies, seemingly powerful, existed in Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan, to name a few prominent examples. Most of these regimes were eliminated by an external force, and they inflicted terrible destruction on their people. The apparent exception is Spain, where the regime exhausted its power and died, without destruction and without external intervention. The main reason, perhaps, for the demise of the fascist regime in Spain is that it no longer had an enemy, and it had no war to fight. In order to exist, the fascist regime must mobilize its people for a ceaseless war. True peace completely eliminates such regimes.
Fascism failed because of the human desire for freedom and the moral revolt it provokes. Apparently, this is an overly optimistic view, since we have seen many times that human nature tends to indifference and submission, and that moral horrors do not always provoke the world to revolt. Nevertheless, reality is back and proves that the desire for freedom prevails over most forms of oppression, and that the villain deserves the moral condemnation of the world.
If a fascist regime rises in Israel, God forbid, we cannot expect it to go smoothly like what happened in Spain, which relied on friendly and peace-loving Europe in the process of restoring democracy. We are in the heart of a hostile region, which is having trouble coming to terms with our existence. Nevertheless, our ambition should be to establish peace with the peoples of the region, a peace that will break down the walls of hostility, while maintaining a democratic and moral regime, which is, in the end, stronger and more durable than any form of dictatorship.
This is the hour when every person should stand up and speak boldly, rise up against the alarming trend, contribute his part to the preservation of democracy and not shy away from the violent threats of the hot-headed. Even if there is a feeling that "this will not happen to us", and that Israeli democracy is strong enough to withstand the attack that is taking place on it, we must not be complacent.
The real security problems must not blind us from seeing the danger of a dark and fanatical regime taking over, which will eliminate the achievements of the state that our ancestors founded. Our duty to their legacy is to establish a democratic and egalitarian society, based on values of mutual respect and sincere pursuit of peace. We must also repeat the lesson of the twentieth century that peace and freedom march together, while oppression and violence lead to a dead end.
The writer is a translator
Published in "Haaretz" 14/8/02
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