Fear of a growing acceptance and embrace of antisemitism is roiling Jews the world over and others who believe in the values of liberal (small “l”) democracy. It is happening on every inhabitable continent.
Meanwhile, in what has often been described as the sole democracy in the Mideast amid a desert of autocratic rule by potentates and corrupt extremists, Israel is plunging into cultish religious and nationalistic fanaticism that has Jews throughout the world wincing in disbelief.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s narrow comeback return to the prime minister’s office hinged on his links to religious conservatives and militant extremists personified by Itamar Ben-Gvir, a once scorned anti-Arab right wing radical now in line to be the Minister of National Security.
Built into the DNA of most Jews who follow politics and world events is an alarmist gene. Centuries, nay, millennia, of oppression have infused a healthy skepticism of even the most benevolent regime. The grandeur of Moorish Spain, the drawing rooms of Vienna, the economic pinnacles of Germany were no match for the antisemitism unleashed by kings, queens and dictators.
So Jews concentrate on the headlines of the day, keeping track of cracks in liberal democracies and deep crevices in totalitarian regimes.
Only now the inspection has become introspection. Consider the headlines from one day—November 28—in the online version of Haaretz, a left-wing Israeli news outlet, to realize that reactionary forces are at play in Israel, as well:
“Netanyahu’s party aims to close Israel’s public broadcaster
“Ben-Gvir wants to change Temple Mount status quo. This time Netanyahu may let him.
“Israeli student attacked by solder in Hebron sent to five days’ house arrest
“Israeli army employs closed military-zones to rein in Palestinians, left-wing activists
“Israel is approaching the gravest constitutional crisis in its history
“‘Most antisemitic police in the world” Ben-Gvir’s chief of staff’s long feud with police
“Gantz accuses Ben-Gvir of establishing a private militia that ‘may cost human lives’
“Ben-Gvir will bring out the worst of Israel’s police
“New Powers in far-right hands: Israel’s national security ministry, explained
“Netanyahu gives unprecedented power to extremist fighting LGBTQ ‘deviants’
“Four Netanyahu supporters charged with harassing witnesses in corruption trial
“Now it’s undeniable. Even for the GOP: Trump is legitimizing antisemitism
“Talk is cheap. So are women’s lives in Arab and Muslim Societies
“Meeting the greatest Turkish director of our time in a tent in the Israeli desert
“Israel believes chance of a new Iran nuclear deal ‘near zero’ due to Russia aid
“‘I’m the first queer rapper in Hebrew’”
“Israeli Druze soldiers arrested for allegedly throwing explosive at Palestinian home
“The Army of Occupation has been occupied
“The night Jewish fanatics tried to bomb the Knesset”
OMG! Is this really the nation that was supposed to be a light unto others?