The redemptive xenophobia sweeping across Israel

Daniel Blatman writes:

Sebastian Haffner was a young lawyer in Germany in 1932. As a non-Jew, Haffner could have continued to further his career in the civil service. In describing the atmosphere in his country before the takeover by the Nazi dictatorship, he wrote that “the game dragged on tedious and gloomy, without high spots, without drama, without obvious decisive moments … what was no longer to be found was pleasure in life, amiability, fun, understanding goodwill, generosity and a sense of humor …. The air in Germany had rapidly become suffocating.”

Haffner chose to leave Germany. If he were to visit the neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak, Safed, Jerusalem or Bat Yam in late 2010, he would certainly recall those hard days in his homeland. He would find rabbis who sign racist manifestos against an ethnic minority and call for a policy of apartheid, fiery demonstrations against refugees from Africa, gangs of teens attacking Arabs, legislation promoting separatism and discrimination in racist and ethnic contexts, an oppressive public atmosphere, as well as violence and a lack of compassion toward people who are different and foreign.

Haffner would mainly warn against the anemic response of political institutions whose weakness and fears in 1933 led to a political reversal that could have been avoided. Of course, most Israelis do not see themselves as racist. The fact that half of Israel’s Jewish population would not want to live next to Arabs is given various excuses, as is the popular and sweeping support of initiatives designed to keep Arabs or Africans from living alongside Jews. But only a few people who give those excuses would be willing to openly state that they support ethnic and racial separation.

The wild propagandists of the right like MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union ) do not hesitate to use imagery and explanations taken from the anti-Semitic lexicon of Europe: Foreigners spread disease and take Jewish women; black refugees are violent criminals who endanger public safety.

This horrific propaganda is terrifying poor population groups who are already living with an infinite number of problems of survival. And the people who espouse this propaganda are persuading themselves that keeping foreigners out and racial separation produce hope for a solution to their problems. The historian Saul Friedlander defined this mood in Germany of the 1930s as “redemptive anti-Semitism.” A society in existential confusion lacking a political direction that gave it hope was swept up by an apocalyptic idea at whose heart was the need to keep Jews out; if not, the nation’s existence would come to an end.

Millions of people in Germany who would not have defined themselves as anti-Semites and certainly not as Nazis were swept up in the messianic and pseudo-religious public atmosphere. Israel today is becoming slowly and increasingly swept up in “redemptive xenophobia.” [Continue reading.]

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4 thoughts on “The redemptive xenophobia sweeping across Israel

  1. DE Teodoru

    Blatmen shows that Jewish genius for seeing into one’s own dark soul. No Jew could ever really seek to understand the Holocaust without realizing that Israel is step by sliding aping it much as it had exploited it. Look to Diaspora Jews to shake Israelis out of their self-doubt and return to the Jewish Ethic that for so long kept the Jewish people alive. One can count on no one else, for everyone else in various positions of power are whores for sale, the higher the politicians, the more perverse the “tricks” they turn. 1932 indeed is here. Now is the time for all good men to shout in warning: fire, fire fire!

  2. delia ruhe

    Every year, when I teach chunks from the Jewish Bible in my Honours course, at least one student asks if self-destruction is written into the Jewish psyche — as if today were 70AD all over again. It’s spooky.

    These Nazi allusions have been coming up in the work of more and more scholars for at least the last 15 years. I find it especially disorienting when I read them in Israeli newspapers as well.

  3. Norman

    One has to wonder if the Jews didn’t have a hand in designing what happened in Germany in 1932, that appears to be taking place today in Israel. After all, they have been preaching Holocaust since they migrated to present day Israel. In fact, they haven’t let the World forget. One has to ask about Cambodia & the killing fields, Darfur, the Balkans, Russia, any other mass killing of people. Are they just chopped liver in the eyes of the Israeli’s? Yes, it’s the Worlds fault for falling for the continued P.R. cranked out 24/7, year in, year out by the Israel P.R. machine. So, as they have continued the destruction of the Palestinian peoples, preaching War on the Arabs of every country plus others in the Middle East, they now are copying what took place in Germany. Wake up World, before the Mad men incinerate the whole of the middle east in their madness.

  4. Renfro

    “Look to Diaspora Jews to shake Israelis out of their self-doubt and return to the Jewish Ethic that for so long kept the Jewish people alive. One can count on no one else, for everyone else in various positions of power are whores for sale, the higher the politicians, the more perverse the “tricks” they turn. 1932 indeed is here.”

    It is diaspora Jews who created the horror of zionist Israel…by using the US government and the holocaust industry to do it.
    It won’t be the Jews who change this, they have had 60 years to change it and it’s only gotten worse, they get more US money and more US weapons every year…it will be that last fatal straw for the American public that finally ends it.
    You might have some of the younger Jews who protest Israeli actions and work for peace but it will take far more than that…the only thing that will work against the older zionist in this country that minipulate our corrupt politicans is fear of an American backlash.
    The backlash is in fact already here, it’s just waiting for the spark to ignite it…and I have no doubt that Israel will supply that spark.

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