Nazi Party of Israel

Maybe I’m overreacting. That’s what many of my friends say, and nearly all of my unfriends. Still, I can’t help but feel we’re a good ways down the road, and at the end of the track lies a Polish concentration camp.

Oh, sorry, Poland! I understand you made that phrase illegal. Actually, I thought it redounded to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s credit when he called you out on the brownwashing, if that’s the proper term for ignoring complicity with the Nazis.

But Poland passed the law anyway, and it won’t change Israel’s relationship with them. After all, we Israelis and Jews continue to make ourselves more and more comfortable with far-right nationalist parties, whether in Poland or Hungary or Austria. And it’s not just for Central or Eastern Europe anymore; a disturbing number of Jews and Israelis are cozying up to these sorts of… people, I guess, technically — in the UK, France, Germany, Holland.

Ahead of Netanyahu’s visit last year, Hungary’s billboards were overrun by anti-Soros ads. Well, it worked, because now Bibi is putting out the same Soros conspiracy theories about globalist Jewish conspiracies. Just put “liberal” in there somewhere, and it’s kosher. And people wonder where Yair gets it from.

But I’m an American citizen too, so I can’t ignore what’s going on there. The current president launched his foray into politics with a five-year fellowship in the racist ideology known as Birtherism, then launched his official campaign with an anti-Mexican rant, then picked a white nationalist to run his campaign. I know snowcons get offended when you point it out, but Steve Bannon, as chairman of Breitbart News, identified it as “the platform of the alt-right,” and Breitbart identified Richard Spencer as the head of the alt-right. Two plus two still equals four arms of a swastika.

Rebranding, of course, has always been key. Not Nazis, neo-Nazis. Not neo-Nazis, skinheads. Not skinheads, white nationalists. Not white nationalists, alt-right. Not alt-right, ethno-nationalist.

That last step is key. Because once it sounds kosher, Jews can buy it.  Unfortunately, many have already. Anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-social justice… mmm! We have now reached multicultural ethno-nationalsim. Jewish nationalists can join the party! Hey, why not Hindu nationalists too? (It’s not like that might ever backfire, right?)

So why did yesterday’s news bother me so much? Because we’ve now dispensed with the rebranding. Art Jones, card-carrying Nazi and Holocaust denier, is running unopposed as the Republican candidate for Illinois’s Third Congressional District. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he is “a former leader of the American Nazi Party and now heads a group called the America First Committee.” America First, huh? Where have I heard that before?

It’s a safely Democratic district, they tell me. It doesn’t mean anything, they tell me. Former Sen. Norm Coleman, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, declares:

I would hope there is a write-in candidate so he doesn’t get the nomination. If he does, his candidacy will be rejected by the Republican Party at every level-local, state and federal. His depraved values are not Republican values.

You would hope, Norm? Awesome. But if the balance of the House of Representatives were at stake, and Art Jones managed to rally his old Skokie marching buddies, would Norm tell us to vote D to keep a Holocaust-denier Nazi off of Capitol Hill? I wish I could be sure about that. I really do. After all, Norm proclaims depraved values are disqualifying. Say a child molester — that’s pretty depraved, right?

I am a citizen of both the United States and Israel, and its leaders have a lot in common — not biographically, not temperamentally, but ideologically. Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Fantastic. Embracing their daughters’ commitment to Orthodox Judaism? Charming. Failing to recognize the threat of Nazism, whatever we call it now? Alarming. Embracing those who espouse it? Terrifying.

I still hope I’m wrong. But I can’t shake the feeling that Israel may have a Nazi prime minister before it ever has an Arab one. And far too many of my fellow Jews and fellow Israelis seem to be cool with that.

About the Author
Yoseif Bloch is a rabbi who has taught at Yeshivat HaKotel, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshivat Shvilei Hatorah and served as a congregational rabbi in Canada. He currently works as an editor, translator and publisher. As a blogger and podcaster, he is known as Rabbi Joe in Jerusalem.
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