July 10, 2009

That Judenrein thing

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the Nazi term 'Judenrein' in a recent meeting with the German foreign minister to condemn the Palestinian demand that West Bank settlements be removed, a confidant of the premier has said.

"Judea and Samaria cannot be Judenrein," the confidant quoted the prime minister as telling Frank-Walter Steinmeier earlier this week.

Asked how Germany's top diplomat responded to hearing the term used by the Nazis to refer to areas "cleansed of Jews", the confidant said, "What could he do? He basically just nodded." (Haaretz, June 10, 2009)

It takes a certain warped mind to compare the removal of illegal settlements, established through blatant and intentional disregard of international law as part of a conscious campaign for ethnic cleansing ("maximum land with minimum Arabs"), to the Nazi attempt to exterminate European Jews.

But don't blame Netanyahu. Warped mind, thy name is Zionism. After all, to give just one tiny example, it wasn't long ago that a certain hackademic who shall remain nameless described the defeat of the Zionists in the UCU as the outcome of a campaign to make the UCU "free of Jews." And if you go and google 'Judenrein', you will note that the rabid Jewish right has been using this term to describe the anti-colonial struggle in the OPT for a very long time.

This is what I love about Netanyahu. He is irrepressibly icky. All the foul, nauseating, self-righteous self-pity that has been festering in the Zionist psyche but kept firmly in check by pragmatic "labor" leaders from Ben Gurion to Peres, at least in international settings, is now gushing out, officially written into the record by an Israeli PM who wears his necrotic heart on his sleeve. Perhaps that is because in Netanyahu, the personal and the political are one, the humiliation experienced by Jewish identity as it was steamrolled by European modernity, out of which Zionism was born, resonating with Netanyahu's family's own humiliation at the hand of the labor regime in Israel, which he has never forgiven. Humiliation, resentment and lashing out in revenge are the core elements of the Netanyahu universe and one of the keys to his appeal in an electorate saturated with humiliations. He is the thus the perfect, almost excpectant, foil for Obama's policy of ostensibly humiliating him/Israel, which he can only experience as deja vu all over again, just as every mild criticism of its actions or call for restraint is experienced by Israel and its supporters as a new "Auschwitz". Netanyahu is the surfeit of the Zionist death drive, a talking wound with a one word repertoire: "Nazi. Nazi. Nazi. Nazi. Nazi. Nazi..." Ad nauseam.

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