Tony Greenstein | 19 October 2022 | Post Views:

Religious Zionism – a Jewish Nazi Party – is Set to Become the 3rd largest party in the next Knesset

Jewish Power poster – may our enemies be gone

On November 1st Israel will have its fifth general election in three years and it is unlikely, even then, that a stable government will be formed. Israeli politics are drifting inexorably to the far-Right as the number of settlers in the Religious Zionism West Bank and East Jerusalem gain a critical mass (about 700,000).

In June 2021 in House built on sand I wrote that ‘It would be a brave person who gave this government even a year before it breaks up.’ [1] As it turned out the Anyone But Netanyahu coalition of the Zionist ‘left’ and ‘right’, including one Arab party, the United Arab List (Ra’am) lasted one year and ten days.

Zionism was always at its heart a form of political Messianism. It rested on the belief that Palestine had been given by god to the Jews and it was through settlement, the ‘return’ of the Jews and the rebuilding of the third temple that the Messiah would return. Religious Zionism in Zionism’s early years was very much a minority amongst the Orthodox as it developed a theology in which irreligious even atheistic nationalist Jews would nonetheless do god’s work.[2]

Opinion Poll for 2022 elections

In fact messianic religious Zionists bear an uncanny similarity to their Christian counterparts who also rest their believe in salvation on the Jews return.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister explained in October 1941 as the holocaust was getting under way, that it was the role of Zionism ‘to cast the great Jewish tragedy in prodigious moulds of redemption.’ [3]   Zionism had ‘redemption’ and rebirth at its core and through redemption one would obtain salvation, politically and religiously.

This is the backdrop to the formation of Israel’s present governing coalition under first Naftali Bennett and now Yair Lapid. Although the coalition consists of 13 representatives of the Zionist ‘left’ (7 Labor, 6 Meretz) it has been the Right that has dictated the agenda. Indeed it is difficult to think of a single political gain or achievement that the Zionist ‘left’ has made from entering this coalition, apart from keeping Netanyahu at bay. One reason for this is that the Zionist ‘left’ has no separate agenda from its ‘right-wing’ counterparts.

In April the defectionof Idit Silman of the far-right religious nationalist party Yamina caused the coalition to lose its wafer thin majority of 61-59.[4] In June Coalition Whip Nir Orbach also defected making an election almost inevitable.[5]

The Knesset

But the issue that caused the Coalition to collapse was the Emergency Regulations that the Knesset is obliged to pass every 5 years in order to ensure that Israeli civil law applies to the settlers and military law to the Palestinians.

These Regulations have been enacted ever since the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967. They are the legal basis of Apartheid in the West Bank by creating two parallel legal systems – one for Jewish settlers and another for Palestinians.

You would expect the Zionist left and in particular Meretz, which supports a two-state solution, to be implacably opposed to such legislation. After all they are the legal basis of the Occupation that they purportedly oppose.

Not a bit of it.  Not only did five Meretz MKs go into the voting lobby alongside the Zionist Right but they turned against their sixth member, Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, whose vote against the Regulations, alongside that of Ra’am MK Mazen Ghanaim, sealed the fate of the Coalition.

You might have thought that her four Jewish colleagues in Meretz would have understood and sympathised with Zoabi’s dilemma.  Not a bit of it. Health Minister and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz attacked Zoabi in an interview with the Army Radio calling her resignation from the coalition “disgusting and dishonest behavior.” He went on to say that

“We have no connection to this woman. She lost her way, even in our politics, in which people do dishonest things, I think it’s an act that has really crossed all the red lines.” [6]

Likud and its partners, for tactical reasons, voted against the regulations making an election inevitable since, in an election period, the regulations are automatically extended. Meretz couldn’t countenance a situation in which Palestinians and Jewish settlers achieved legal equality because, their support for a two state solution notwithstanding, they are not opposed to the Occupation and at no time have they called for a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank.

Not content with this Jewish activists from Meretz picketed Zoabi’s home in Nof Hagalil calling on her to resign as an MK. The reasons being that her actions could ‘lead to a government of darkness.’ [7]

The protesters said Zoabi’s conduct could bring down the coalition “and lead to a government of darkness led by [Itamar] Ben Gvir, [Bezalel] Smotrich and [Benjamin] Netanyahu”. Images from the demonstration in the northern town of Nof Hagalil showed a handful of protesters near Rinawie Zoabi’s home.

Ahead of the protest, Kan news said that Meretz and Ra’am told Bennett that they had lost control of Zoabi and Ghanaim, who rejected calls to resign and promised to vote against the bill if it was brought to a vote again.

A similar crisis was narrowly avoided in July 2021 when the Coalition failed to enact the Citizenship and Entry into Israel law. On that occasion two members of Raam, Mazen Ghnaim and Said al-Harumi, abstained resulting in the law falling as 59 members voted for the law and the same number voting against it. The law, first enacted in 2003 and renewed every year, aims at preventing Israeli Palestinians from bringing into Israel spouses from the Occupied Territories and granting them resident status. Although justified as a security precaution its primary aim is demographic, to prevent the dilution of Israel’s Jewish majority.[8]

Both Zoabi and Ghanaim were pressurised to resign after voting with the opposition. Ra’am’s three other Knesset members abstained, as did rebel Yamina MK Idit Silman. The bill failed to pass by 58-52.

Although predictions are hard to make, on the basis of opinion polls Netanyahu is more likely to be able to cobble together a narrow coalition than his rivals. Likud is predicted to gain 1 or 2 more seats from its present 30, the Orthodox Haredi parties are likely to stay the same (15) and the Labour Zionist are predicted to lose 3 of their current 13. Yesh Atid, the ‘centrist’ (in Israeli terms) party of current Prime Minister Lapid is forecast to gain 7 seats. The former New Hope, led by Gideon Saar, formerly of Likud and Benny Gantz, of Blue and White have combined to form the National Unity Party. They are predicted to lose two seats.

The Arab parties Hadash-Ta’al and Ra’am are predicted to gain 8 seats, down two.  However it is extremely disappointing that the Arab nationalist party Balad, which is explicitly in favour of Israel as a state of all its citizens was forced to break from the Joint List. Interestingly Balad has put Jewish actor Einat Weitzman on its list in 6th place.

The forecast number of seats for what remains of the Joint List and Ra’am, which split from the Joint List in the 2021 elections, is down from 15 in March 2020 when the Joint List became the third largest block in the Knesset. Ra’am, led by Mansour Abbas is the political wing of the Southern Islamic Movement and a conservative party that seeks to achieve concessions for Israeli Palestinians, in particular the unrecognised Bedouin villages in the Negev by agreeing to hold its nose and support nakedly racist legislation when applied to Palestinians under occupation.

However the main feature of the election is the prediction that the Religious Zionism party of Bezalel Smotrich, in conjunction with the Jewish Nazi party Otzma Yehudit of Ben Gvir is predicted to more than double its number of seats from 6 to 13.

Ben Gvir is a supporter of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane of Kach, who supported making sexual relations between Jewish women and Arab males a criminal offence punishable by 5 years imprisonment. A ‘crime’ straight out of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws and what was known as Rassenchande (racial hygiene). Kahane was explicit in calling for the expulsion of all Israel’s Arabs. Until recently Gvir had on the wall of his home a poster of Baruch Goldstein, a Jewish settler who opened fire in 1994 on Palestinians worshipping in the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron killing 29.[9]

Gvir has recently tried to tone down his image claiming that he is ‘only’ in favour of expelling ‘disloyal’ Palestinian citizens of Israel but since most Palestinians don’t accept that Israel should be a state only of its Jewish citizens this is just playing with words.

It is clear though from Israel’s equivalent of 60 minutes and a defector from the settler Hilltop Youth, Ronit Chem, that Ben Gvir has been up to his eyes in fomenting Jewish terrorist attacks against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.[10]

However the fact that more than 10% of Israelis can entertain voting for a party which wants to be rid of Israel’s Arab citizens demonstrates the direction that Israel, as a Jewish state, is taking. The obsession with demography and racial purity, is common to all wings of Zionism. From Meretz to Likud there is a consensus that Israel is a Jewish state and there should be separation from the Arabs.  The belief that Jews and Arabs cannot live together in one state with equal rights is common to all Zionist parties.

Is it any wonder that those with radical solutions to the ‘problem’ of Israel Palestinian minority should prove attractive. Their simple ‘solution’ to the Arab problem is their transfer.

What is shocking is that the Kibbutzim, formerly the bastion of Labour Zionism, are inviting Gvir to address them during the elections.[11] But if the present situation is bad then future developments in the Zionist state all point to the openly fascist wing of Zionism, which Ben Gvir and Religious Zionism represent, becoming even stronger. Some 30-40% of young Israeli Jews support Religious Zionism.[12]

The leader of the Religious Zionism coalition, Bezalel Smotrich, is little better than the rabble rousing Ben Gvir. Smotrich called for a ban on Arab parties on the grounds that Israel’s Palestinians might massacre the Jews.[13]

And the third wing of the holy trinity that is Religious Zionism is the anti-gay party Noam, whose inspiration is Rabbi Thau. The person who was the marriage broker who oversaw the inclusion of Noam in Religious Zionism was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu who when he visits the West engages in pink washing, pretending that Israel is a welcoming place to be if you are gay.[14]  As Yossi Verter of Ha’aretz wrote: ‘In going to Rabbi Zvi Thau, Noam’s spiritual leader, Netanyahu “lost whatever was left of his liberal, enlightened humanity.”

As the Israel state moves further to the religious right it is also becoming more anti-gay. The chances for example of gay marriage in Israel being enacted are minus zero. After all it is impossible for a Jew and an Arab to marry in Israel let alone two people of the same sex.

The Israel lobby in the U.S. is already terrified at the potential damage that Ben Gvir will do to Israel’s already deteriorating image. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NY), a pro-Israel Democrat, has already warned Netanyahu that he has “serious concerns” about including “extremist and polarizing individuals like Ben Gvir” in the government. Rep. Brad Sherman has called for Gvir to be ostracised not included. None of this however has affected the New York Times, which like the reaction of the British media to Al Jazeera’s Labour Files has found a simple solution to the problem of a Jewish Nazi being a government minister in Israel.  It simply says nothing! [15]

What is clear is that given the pivotal position that Religious Zionism is likely to hold in a Netanyahu government it is likely to hold a number of ministries. Smotrich has said that he will be seeking the defence, finance and justice portfolios.  In other words the Minister in charge of Justice will come from a party of pogromists and open racists.[16]

Zionism and its racism, once hidden but now open is today openly proclaiming its intentions, shorn of all the euphemisms and subterfuge of the Labour Zionists. Unlike the pretence of Meretz and the Israeli Labor Party that you could reconcile a Jewish State and a Democratic State Ben Gvir and Smotrich are now open in their belief that Israel should, first and foremost be a racially pure Jewish state.  Democracy is for the Gentiles. After all there is nothing in the Bible about democracy!

But we should be clear. Those who cleared the path to the Kahanes, Gvirs and Smotrich’s were those ‘liberal’ Zionists who moved heaven and earth to whitewash Zionism. It is the Louise Ellmans and Ruth Smeeths, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Board of Deputies who spent their political capital accusing opponents of Zionism of being ‘anti-Semites’, a charge intended to intimidate Israel’s critics.

It was the Labor Zionists who organised the Nakba who gave way to Likud and now Religious Zionism. Even in the coalition government it was Labor Security Minister Omar Bar-Lev who gave the okay to thousands of settler youth marching through Arab East Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day chanting ‘death to the Arabs’ whilst attacking Palestinians who lived there.  Just as two years ago it was Netanyahu who vetoed such a march.

Today we see where Zionism has ended up – in a Jewish state whose government includes an openly Jewish Nazi Party.

Tony Greenstein

[1]              Weekly Worker 1351,

[2]              Israel and the Messiah’s Ass, Moshe Machover, Weekly Worker, 1.6.17.

[3]        Beit Zvi, p. 115 citing In the Campaign, Vol. II, p. 68. Teveth, p. 854, Ben-Gurion speech 25 October 1941.

[4]              Silman’s coalition defection catches her political partners off-guard, Times of Israel , 6.4.22., 

[5]              Yamina MK Nir Orbach quits coalition; PM admits it could collapse ‘in a week or two’, Times of Israel 13.6.22, 

[6]              Horowitz Attacks Zoabi: ‘We Have No Connection to This Woman’, Ha’aretz 23.6.22., 

[7]              Meretz activists protest outside rebel MK’s home, call for her resignation. Times of Israel 11.6.22. 

[8]              Israeli PM suffers setback in vote on Arab citizenship rights law, Guardian 6.7.21. 

[9]              Times of Israel 15.1.20., Ben Gvir responds to Bennett: Fine, I’ll take down Baruch Goldstein’s picture, 

[10]             BREAKING: Former Hilltop Youth Activist Reveals Ben Gvir Incited Jewish Terrorism, Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 11.10.22., 

[11]             Racist Israeli pol Ben Gvir is now welcome at kibbutzes,    Mondoweiss 22.9.22., 

[12]             Israel heads further right: 30-40 percent of young support fascistic Jewish party, Mondoweiss, 10.8.22., 

[13]             Smotrich calls for ban on Arab parties, says Arab citizens could commit massacres,  Times of Israel, 12.9.22., 

[14]             Ha’aretz 20.9.22., Spiritual Leader of anti-LGBT Party Is Not a Fringe Figure 

[15]             James North, Mondoweiss, 16.9.22., Surging racist Ben Gvir is potential kingmaker in Israel — and ‘NYT’ hides him from readers,

[16]         Times of Israel, 15 October 2022, Smotrich says may seek defense, finance, justice portfolios in a Netanyahu coalition 

Posted in

Tony Greenstein

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.