Netanyahu’s Comeback; Israeli Fascist Right Solidifies its Grip on Power
Although Netanyahu is expected to form a relatively stable government that could complete its 4-year mandate, this government is "Israel's" most right-wing to date, and its main figures have bred controversy because of their racist views.
Benjamin Netanyahu is back. The longest-serving Israeli prime minister, whom many people thought was politically finished, has won the latest Israeli elections and emerged as the leading candidate to form the new Israeli government. In fact, he has been already tasked with forming the new government by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and in all likelihood, he’ll succeed in that mission after negotiating with his political allies and settling the disputes over assignments of ministerial positions – something he’s done many times before. Netanyahu’s Likud Party won 32 seats in the Israeli Knesset (parliament), and his three potential partners in government won another 32 seats, totaling 64 out of the Knesset's 120 seats. This is a comfortable majority in Israeli politics and Netanyahu is expected to lead to a stable government that could complete its 4-year mandate.
However, this time the alliance of factions that he is preparing to lead is quite different from his previous governments. In addition to Likud, it is going to include the Religious Zionism Party (14 seats), Shas Party (11 seats), and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) Party ( 7 seats), all of which are politically to his right. The Likud Party has for long been considered the far–right stream in Israeli politics, with its roots going back to the racist and fascist ideologies of the terrorist Zionists Vladimir Jabotinski and Menachem Begin. But the results of the latest elections mean that Likud will be joined by smaller parties that are positioned to its right. The other three religious parties in Netanyahu’s coalition adopt even more extreme views with regard to Arabs and Palestine. Gone are the days when Netanyahu sits in a cabinet alongside more center-leaning characters. The right in “Israel” is now blatantly fascist and religious. As for the left, it has almost vanished. The Labour Party, which represents the heritage of the first Zionist generation (Gurion, Golda Meir, and their likes) that historically masterminded the creation of the Israeli “state” and won its wars, got only 4 seats in the Knesset out of 120!
As for the so-called “peace process”, nothing will change. For over a decade there has been no “peace process” with Palestinian Arabs at all. Everything is on hold, no rounds of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, no political initiatives, and no ideas on the table. All that Netanyahu did, with the help of former President Trump, was “bypass” the Palestinians and jump to establish relations with some Arab countries.
Here we shed some light on Netanyahu’s new allies and partners in the upcoming Israeli government.
Smotrich and Ben-Gurion’s "unfinished business"
The young rising star of the Israeli far-right was born in 1980 in an Israeli settlement in Syria’s Golan Heights (occupied by “Israel” since 1967) to parents of Ukrainian origin. Between 2015 – 2019, his party was called “ The Jewish Home” but then Bezalel Smotrich broadened his base among Israeli settlers and extreme far-right groups and entered the latest elections under “The Religious Zionists” Party.
Smotrich publicly said that Palestinian Arabs living within the borders of the so-called “state of Israel” were there only by mistake because Ben-Gurion didn’t finish his job” referring to "Israel’s" founder and first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who was responsible for the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians out of their homes and land in 1948. On another occasion, Smotrich said that “only Jews in this land have the right of self-determination”, and added that Arabs would be allowed to live only if they give up their national aspirations and recognize the Jewishness of the state and land!
Netanyahu ally Bezalel Smotrich to Arab Knesset members: "You're only here by mistake, because Ben-Gurion didn't finish the job, didn't throw you out in '48. I have no dialogue with you at all," the self-described proud homophobe said, calling them enemies and terror supporters. pic.twitter.com/KLc4GHMfOM— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) October 13, 2021
Ben Gvir; Kahane’s heir
Itamar Ben Gvir was born in 1976 to an Iraqi father and a Kurdish mother who immigrated to Palestine in the late 1940s. Since his early age, Ben Gvir was associated with extreme-right movements calling for the expulsion, even elimination, of Arabs from the country. He became the youth coordinator of KACH, the organization founded by the American Rabbi Meir Kahana in the 1980s. The KACH movement was banned after the 1994 massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil, south of the occupied West Bank, during which KACH member Baruch Goldstein shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers and injured dozens more.
KACH was designated as racist and terrorist, so its operatives, including Ben Gvir, were forced to change the names and banners of their activities. Ben Gvir proudly kept an image of the criminal Baruch Goldstein in his office, and was only compelled to remove it only after he entered politics and became a public figure later on. However, his first party, Otzma Yehudit, was known to hail from Meir Kahana’s ideology and heritage. Recently, Ben Gvir joined forces with Smotrich and became the leader of a major faction within the “Religious Zionism Party” known as “Jewish Power”. In May 2021, Ben Gvir led a group of settlers in storming the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Al-Quds. He called on Israeli forces and armed settlers to shoot any Palestinians throwing stones, while brandishing a weapon himself.
Shas Party: “Arabs are insects”
The Shas party represents the Eastern orthodox Jews known as Sephardim, whose origins are from Arab and Islamic countries. Its founder, spiritual father, and religious leader, the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, once called for the annihilation of Arabs saying “they are evil and damnable”. Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of “Israel”, preached that “it is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. The Lord shall waste their seed and exterminate them, devastate them and vanish them from this world”. And on another occasion, he called the Arabs “snakes” and added, “Those evildoers, the Arabs, God is sorry that he ever created those sons of Ishmael”.
Shas is now led by Aryeh Deri, who’s a faithful disciple of Rabbi Yosef. Shas adopts very strict religious teachings that totally exclude women from the party ranks. Media reports suggest that Netanyahu is ready to offer Deri, who was born in Morocco in 1959 and immigrated to Palestine in 1968, the very senior position of Security Minister.
Goldknopf : Math never advanced "Israel"
United Torah Judaism Party is the Ashkenazi equivalent to Shas, representing the Western ultra-orthodox Jews of European origins, and like it, it’s a male-only movement. Although UTJ’s current leader, Rabbi Yitzhak Goldknopf, is 71 years old, he’s relatively new to Israeli politics, having spent most of his public life active in the social arena. For years, he was responsible for chains of schools and kindergartens known as “Beit Yaakov”, mainly promoting religious education and upbringing. He also served as secretary of the rabbinical committee for the sanctity of Shabbat (the committee fought for restrictions in the public space, including a campaign that forced El Al airlines to stop flying on Saturdays). One Goldknopf's most striking statements was “mathematics and English never advanced the country”, which was said in the context of his opposition to introducing modern curricula to religious Jewish schools.
It is reported that Galdknopf is demanding the post of Finance Minister for himself!
Those were the main parties and figures that will be an integral part of the new Israeli government, holding senior posts and dictating their racist agendas along with Netanyahu’s Likud.