When Political Conviction Becomes Existential Threat
When you refuse to see your enemy as an enemy, you’ve already lost the battle
A few days ago I reported on Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s reaction to billboards showing Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh as humiliated defeated enemies. Huldai said the image was reminiscent of what the Nazis and ISIS did to their enemies, and ordered the billboards removed.
The comparison he made between those Israelis who still think in terms of militarily defeating our enemies to the Nazis wasn’t merely a careless thought. Huldai truly believes he has made a valid comparison.
Nor is Huldai alone in making such comparisons. To give but one example, Yair Golan, today a Member of Knesset with the left-wing Democratic Union, said on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2016, while he was serving as Deputy Chief-of-Staff of the IDF: “If there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes that developed in Europe, particularly in Germany 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us.” In later comments, he clarified that these Nazi-like “remnants” are right-wing Israelis who, in Golan’s mind, are planning to supplant Israel’s democracy with a Nazi-like despotic state.
When asked to explain himself, Golan used the same rational as Huldai, who said “the humiliation of the ‘other’ is not our way.” According to Golan, “the right-wing is neither Jewish nor Zionist” because “oppressing another is not Jewish.” What this means in practical terms is that Israel should forfeit any aspiration of military victory because such a thing entails the humiliation of the enemy.
Since a person or people are considered enemy only when they become an existential threat, seeing a real enemy simply as the “other” means the denial of the right of self-defense, or the denial of Israel’s right to exist. What this way of thinking really means is that the Jewish people should at best remain in a constant state of victimhood, even in their own country.
And infuriating as they are, such comparisons between Israel’s Right and the Nazis don’t end at that. They end, as Eitan Schwartz, Tel Aviv’s municipality spokesperson, revealed just a couple of days after Huldai got offended by the billboards, with the real Nazi becoming the victim.
In an interview on Israel National Radio, Schwartz said: “I think that the Jewish public is offended when it sees images taken from the history of our people, where Jewish children in the Holocaust lift their hands up in front of brutal Nazi soldiers.” When the interviewer asked if Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh actually reminds him of Jewish children in the Holocaust, Schwartz replied with no hesitation: “Without a doubt.”
Tempting as it may to see such views as representing the fringes of Israel’s extreme Left, what’s more likely is that Huldai, Golan and Schwartz have taken mainstream left-wing ideology to its final conclusion, which is the “final solution” for the Jewish state.