Espanol / English

Middle East Near You

Netanyahu is the Israeli Trump

Graffiti depicting US Donald Trump when he visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, which Jews claim as their holiest site. [AsafRonel/Twitter]
Graffiti depicting US Donald Trump when he visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, which Jews claim as their holiest site, is seen on the illegal Separation Wall in the occupied West Bank. [AsafRonel/Twitter]

The Zionist white supremacist alliance continues apace. It is quite hard to keep track of the increasing connections, both in the US and in Israel.

The increasing scandal over US President Donald Trump’s white supremacist advisers has finally resulted in some change. Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka are both out. This is to be welcomed, but it should not be forgotten that Stephen Miller is still in place as a senior advisor. Miller was the key architect of the failed “Muslim ban”.

It should also be recalled that Miller has long-standing links to Richard Spencer, who is a key leader in the so-called alt-right, a group which can more accurately be understood as modern-day neo-Nazis. The alt-right was a key element of the base of voters that brought Trump to power. While a small minority, these racist keyboard warriors gained a certain momentum which propelled the reactionary, anti-migrant, American nationalist movement which brought Trump to power.

While much has recently been made of the concept of populism by liberals who try to claim that the popular left-wing socialism of the likes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are the same thing as the populist Trump, there are many important and fundamental differences.

Among these is the fact that Sanders’ and Corbyn’s successes have both come from increasing voter participation. The effect of Trump, on the other hand, has been the opposite: cynicism over both candidates led to an effective suppression of the vote. Unlike Sanders, Hilary Clinton did not enthuse the Democratic base. They did not turn out in large enough numbers to beat the most extreme Republican candidate in modern times, an election which should have been an easy Democratic win. Trump’s disapproval ratings recently have been as high as 56 per cent.

It turns out that the alt-right fan club still rallying around Trump has a parallel in a perhaps unexpected location: Israel. A recent feature in the Israeli paper Haaretz focused on the Israeli online fan club for Netanyahu which makes liberal usage of alt-right imagery and ideology.

Read more: Trump administration backs bill suspending aid to PA

Due to the open anti-Semitism of the alt-right, with its vile internet memes disparaging Jews as greedy (the so-called “happy merchant” meme) and approvingly evoking the Nazi genocide of millions of Europe’s Jews, this may come as a surprise to some readers.

But it can only be so if one is unaware of the historical connections between Zionism and anti-Semitism. They go back to the very foundations of Zionism. Theodor Herzl predicted  in his diaries that, in the project to found a Jewish state, “The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies”.

This was because both Zionists and anti-Semites shared a common interest: to remove Jews from their other countries of origin in Europe and elsewhere. Anti-Semites wanted to be rid of Jews and Zionists wanted to found a Jewish-majority colony in Palestine (which was in fact a majority non-Jewish country).

This same commonality endures until today.

This basic fact explains why Zionism can still make tacit alliances with even the most virulently anti-Jewish movements like neo-Nazism and the so-called alt-right.

In Israel recently, this has reached disturbing proportions.

The Israeli prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, earlier in August posted something on Facebook which clearly evoked some of the alt-right’s most anti-Jewish memes.

The grotesque cartoon depicted liberal Jewish Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros as a conniving puppet-master behind a plot by liberal Israelis to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister.

The cartoon was based on an original image which used the classically anti-Semitic “happy merchant” cartoon to depict Jews in the most grotesque way possible. The post led to criticisms in Israel and the US, but no public rebuke by the prime minister of his son. Even the pro-Israel lobbying organization the ADL (which in the past has acted as a private spy agency against pro-Palestinian and anti-apartheid South African movements) criticised the younger Netanyahu. He later removed the Facebook posting.

But the liberal Zionists reactions were somewhat hypocritical. After all, former leader of the Israeli Labour party Isaac Herzog warmly welcomed the election of Trump. “Warm congratulations to the president of the most powerful nation in the world: Donald J Trump!” Herzog wrote in Hebrew on Facebook. “Today American democracy chose … an American leader who showed the commentators and the sceptics that we are in a new era of change and replacing the old elitist regimes!” he gushed. “You did the unthinkable, against all the odds, polls, research and the prophets of the old era. I’m convinced that the defence and financial alliance with our strongest and most powerful ally will continue with a vengeance under your presidency.”

Zionists have long had few qualms about using anti-Semitic imagery and terms to disparage Jews that they perceive as their enemies. Jews in both the West and Israel who support Palestinian rights in any way are routinely abused in the most viciously anti-Semitic terms – wishing Hitler had finished the job and that their families had died in the Holocaust for example.

Read more: Netanyahu’s son under fire over anti-Semitic imagery on Facebook

Yair Netanyahu’s posting of the anti-Semitic cartoon led to the Daily Stormer, an openly neo-Nazi website, posting his image on the front page of their website, and dubbing themselves “The World’s #1 Yair Netanyahu Fansite”. Infamous white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke wrote on Twitter, “Welcome to the club, Yair — absolutely amazing, wow, just wow”.

Andrew Anglin, the American who runs the site, wrote that “Yair Netanyahu is a total bro … Next he’s going to call for gassings”.

Anglin later told Israeli TV that he was happy about the emergence of this new “Jewish-Israeli alt-right.” He told Channel 2 that the Israeli alt-right and the US alt-right “are bothered, sick of the same people in the same way” – in other words of American Jews (who are mostly liberals).

This new Israeli alt-right seems to be small and emerging, but it is clearly rallying around Netanyahu as its leader.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

ArticleAsia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastOpinionPalestineUS
Filmlab Palestine - A partner of Middle East Monitor