ANALYSIS - How Jewish fundamentalism is taking over Israeli democracy
The volume of racist arguments advanced by Israeli media representatives regarding Palestinians, as well as the silence of the major media corporations in response to this oppression, is extremely concerning
Recent Israeli attacks on Palestinians, as well as the reactions of some Israeli politicians and journalists, along with some extremist groups, to the unfolding events have demonstrated how dangerous this current trajectory can be, not only for Palestinians but also for the future generations of Israel itself.
The sight of ultranationalist Jews -- as we saw in numerous video news reports -- celebrating the so-called “conquest of Jerusalem” in front of the Western Wall while, in the background, smoke billowed from a burning tree near the Al-Aqsa Mosque as clashes were ongoing was concerning in many respects. Jewish extremists were jubilantly dancing and singing, unconcerned about the raging fire in the sacred place right next to them. Many people found this image very unsettling and frightening as it showed the motivations and anger of some Jewish groups, not just against Palestinians but also against Jerusalem’s Islamic identity.
What is more alarming right now are the racist arguments made by various Israeli media representatives against Palestinian civilians. Here are a number of examples: on his Twitter account, Attila Somfalvi, a well-known anchor at Ynet News channel, called for neighborhoods in Gaza to be “deleted” and for a “second Nakba”, by which he actually meant the mass killing of Palestinians. Another Israeli journalist Ben Caspit also proposed destroying an entire Gaza neighborhood.
THIS IS ISRAELI ‘JOURNALISM’: Because 3 dead children are not enough, top Israeli journalist proposes annihilating an entire neighborhood in Gaza pic.twitter.com/7QO4rBavtT— David Sheen (@davidsheen) May 10, 2021
What strikes us as particularly remarkable is that the same arguments can be advanced by journalists from various political factions in Israel. Naveh Dromi, for example, who is supposed to be at the center -- some even describe her as a “leftist” --, has also called for a “second Nakba”. Worse, as seen in Israeli mainstream media, journalists with extremist views blacklist their colleagues who do not follow Netanyahu’s propaganda by demanding that they be prosecuted and those whose actions and statements are only good for “ultimately misguiding society” be punished.
More quality journalism coming out of Israel tonight. Another top Israeli journalist proposing to annihilate an entire neighborhood in Gaza pic.twitter.com/8VTBpfnPLz— David Sheen (@davidsheen) May 10, 2021
Alas, even some leftist politicians have had to seek police protection since they constantly receive threatening messages in response to their criticism of Netanyahu and his party Likud’s policies. This is not entirely surprising, given Israel’s current highly fragmented political landscape. Yet it is worth noting how Jewish elites’ propaganda has a significantly negative impact on the region and the prospects for any kind of peace deal. This can be seen in interviews conducted by American journalist Abby Martin with ordinary Israelis in West Jerusalem. As her interviews reveal, ordinary Israelis mostly repeat arguments of media elites, such as, “We gave them Gaza, they should live there, not here”, “Palestinians should go and live in Arab countries”, “They (Palestinians) are terrorists, Israel has the right to defend its citizens,” and so on, while turning a blind eye to the oppression of Palestinians for all these decades.
Another Israeli journalist fantasizes about, in her words, "a second Nakba" – ethnically cleansing the country of non-Jews pic.twitter.com/X3hjoekoLb— David Sheen (@davidsheen) May 17, 2021
All of this indicates that, as a result of the political crisis and the state's fear-mongering policies, racism has become normalized in Israeli society, as reflected in both the media and political discourse. Pro-peace voices are easily marginalized, and as a result, society is rapidly moving away from the prospect of peace. In these circumstances, where racism and Islamophobia are normalized, the media, as we have previously stated, provokes society by employing populist and extremist language. As a result of systematic dehumanization, Palestinians have been reduced to a horde of enemies who only deserve to be annihilated.
Netanyahu-linked Israeli journalist calls to arrest and put on trial "leftist" journalists who publish information that doesn't sit well with government pro-war propaganda pic.twitter.com/ZxGxEnfrVU— David Sheen (@davidsheen) May 16, 2021
We should also point out here that the discourse so prevalently employed by the Western Media also, in a way, encourages the aggression of Israel. For example, Deutsche Welle (DW) journalists received formal instructions on how to write about Israel, with the red line being to avoid narratives that emphasize Israel’s aggression, discrimination, and colonialism. Even the Israeli Air Force’s complete destruction of the Jalaa building, which housed international press agencies such as Al Jazeera (AJ) and the Associated Press (AP), did not receive the attention it deserved. Although the media can play a crucial role in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, when it comes to Israeli aggression, the global media plays the ostrich. The colonial nature of the Zionist project, or, more precisely, the state of Israel, is today -- and has unfortunately always been -- a near-taboo subject in many Western media circles.
Consequently, the Jewish extremist mediatic narrative displays all of the characteristics of a colonial narrative by emphasizing the alleged uniqueness of the Jewish nation in its relentless search for sovereignty in the Palestinian land. In particular, denying the presence of Palestinians in the territories coveted and then seized for new Jewish settlements has been the most important factor that has shaped the Israeli mainstream media into what it is today.
דנה ויס מלווה באבטחה צמודה ביומיים האחרונים בעקבות איומים שספגה. גורמים בחדשות 12 מאשרים את הדברים pic.twitter.com/0qOAJ0w9Cq— Raz Shechnik (@RazShechnik) May 17, 2021
The literature on the relationship between democracy and the media is vast, and it contains a wide range of viewpoints. Almost everyone acknowledges that media has a huge impact on our democracies as long as it serves the interests of the whole society. Some, such as Bourdieu (1972), argue that the notion of “public opinion” does not exist in reality and that it only serves the interests of the political elite. In this sense, what is happening in Israel is very concerning. The Israeli media is under a serious threat, with Jewish fundamentalism threatening to take over Israeli democracy entirely. Thus, it is of paramount importance for those who truly value democracy to take immediate action in response to the current threat that Israelis are facing.
Another point worth mentioning here is the “religious” nature of the Jewish fundamentalist agenda and how it is perceived, or rather, how it is never mentioned by the Western media. It is crucial to pay attention to this issue because the nature of “holy war” as a decree in Judaism -- “milhemet mitzvah” (war by commandment) -- should not be overlooked. This is because anyone studying Israeli politics can easily see how Jewish extremism has shifted from the hands of the secular elite to the hands of ultranationalist religious groups since the 1960s. When a group claims to do something in the name of Islam, Western media never fails to label it “Islamic terror”, “jihadism” etc. As a result, the term "jihad" has become synonymous with “terrorism” in Western media, which has masterfully removed it from its original meaning and context.
We will not discuss this unfair association and twisted depiction in this short article because it has already been widely criticized. Should we, however, pose the following question: What about Jewish fundamentalist terrorism? The very motives of the Zionist notion of “promised lands” and their goal of entirely erasing the Islamic and Christian identity of the Holy City of Jerusalem shows unmistakable parallels with what Daesh (ISIS) did to Mosul, Palmyra, Nimrud, and other cities. So, when hundreds of Jewish ultranationalists pursuing the “milhemet mitzvah” agenda try to enter Islamic holy sites or Israeli police attack worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where are those who fear “monsters of jihad”? A holy site is turning into a battleground, and we do not hear much about it from some of the biggest players in the media sector.
So, from the Vietnam War to the present day, we all understand the importance of the media in any type of conflict. The volume of racist arguments advanced by Israeli media representatives regarding Palestinians, as well as the silence of the major media corporations in response to this oppression, is extremely concerning. On the other hand, Israel's political outlook, which is now dominated by far-right and religious extremists, poses a threat to not only Palestinians, but also Israelis who do not support the agenda of Jewish extremists, far-right, and ultranationalist movements.
In this age of “post-truth”, there is a growing trend of alt-right movements almost everywhere in the world. But in this case, ironically, those who are planning to destroy the lives of Palestinians once and for all were themselves once the victims of a genocide.
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