Monday, July 25, 2011

The Israeli-Russian Right

Bradley Burston has a great piece up on the fracturing of the Israeli right-wing, separating the "old-guard" Likud from incoming Russian immigrants (mostly represented by Yisrael Beiteinu). Basically, the "old" right is founded on a two-pronged dream:
First, a vision of Israel as an authentic democracy, sensitive to and respectful of minorities, governed by principles of civility, diplomacy, freedom of expression, and mamlachtiyut, statesmanship.
Second, doing everything possible to see to it that the West Bank and East Jerusalem remain in Israeli hands forever.

Needless to say, those two goals are in considerable tension, and in general the folks who have recognized that the tension is unsustainable already bolted to form Kadima. But delusional as it might be, there are folks in Likud for whom respect for minority rights and democratic values is quite genuine, such as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

The Russian right, by contrast, is more or less a set of transplanted Putin clones, and the right they are trying to build in Israel is scarcely different from unrepentant fascism.
At one almost frighteningly revealing moment, MK Anastasia Michaeli of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu, speaking of herself and her many party colleagues born in the U.S.S.R., declared that the NGO probe bill "shows how patriotic we are."

"We grew up on values of patriotism. We arrived in this country, and we want to teach the citizens of Israel what patriotism is, what love of country and loyalty to a country are."

Michaeli, named to serve on one of the proposed NGO probe panels, spoke over widespread interruptions from both Arab and centrist Jewish MKs. Ordered to leave the podium (by an Israeli-born party colleague chairing the session) because of what she called "propaganda" pictures she displayed in contravention of Knesset rules, she dug in for one final full-throated blast.

"You have to learn how Israeli Arabs conduct propaganda against the People of Israel, the way Goebbels built up Nazi Germany, the same way you [Arabs and the left] are continuing to use fascism. You are knocking us down … using democracy and nice words. The real fascist is he who doesn't want the State of Israel to exist.

"Beware! Shame on you! Learn patriotism!"

At some point, the old right is going to have to realize that the new right isn't compatible with the vision of Israel they think they're defending. And then they'll need to make a choice.

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