Sefi Rachlevsky
Haaretz (Opinion)
December 12, 2012 - 1:00am

Where were you on January 22? That question will be asked long after this election, which may be the last one in Israel. As we sit at the edge of the volcano, small personal details are being covered as if they were the main issues. Perhaps repression is natural in the face of such a dramatic revolution.

Those naive people who believe that Likud has shifted rightward are mistaken. Benny Begin is very right-wing. In 1999 he left Likud - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looked too leftist to him - and headed the National Union party. Begin hasn't changed. He wasn't dumped from Likud because of right-wing issues, but because of his commitment to democracy. This revolution has a name: religious, messianic, anti-democratic facism.

Some 55 percent of Likud's registered members are religious, and most of them are extremists. Their voting rate is high: They constituted some 70 percent of those who voted in the party primary. The messianic racist revolution that swallowed up Israeli Orthodoxy has now swallowed Likud. It's no accident that Netanyahu is running not against the center, but against the party of Naftali Bennett and Rabbi Dov Lior.

Moshe Feiglin is a criminal who was convicted of sedition and sentenced to prison during the wave of incitement that led to the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. And there is more than one Feiglin on the Likud slate: They're all Feiglin's donkeys.

Those who got in the way of racist and anti-democratic legislation, like Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan, were dumped. Those who promoted it, like Ze'ev Elkin, Danny Danon and Yariv Levin, skyrocketed. Everyone in Likud understood who was holding the knife. Gideon Sa'ar is considered secular; he's familiar with the Tel Aviv nightclub scene. But as a politician, he's a religious extremist, proud of his efforts on behalf of the Cave of the Patriarchs and Hebron. That's the whole story.

A leading group needn't be the majority. The old-time kibbutzim and moshavim never constituted more than 3.5 percent of the population. When 17-year-old Noa went to work for two weeks on a kibbutz, it was because that was the role model. Everyone was "Uri," the classic native-born worker icon - even the urbanites.

Feiglin can be seen in every Likudnik's mirror, including that of the prime minister. This is the model Israel is slowly adopting. The religious, messianic, racist cult is today's kibbutz movement.

Indeed, we are living a mirror image of the years 1933-1973. During the 40 years of the center-left's dominance - which began when David Ben-Gurion used the incitement that preceded the murder of Chaim Arlosoroff to repress the right, which at the time equaled the center-left in size - there was a homogenous picture. The center-left bloc had 75 Knesset seats, and surrounding it were "islands in the stream" - the right-wing Herut, the General Zionists and the religious parties - that did not cooperate with one another. Most of them competed for a place near Ben-Gurion's Mapai movement. Most accepted "Uri's" cultural superiority as fact.

Now everything has been reversed. There's a clear fascist-religious-racist bloc, and surrounding it are islands in the stream that do not cooperate, but are preoccupied instead with their own personal issues.

Through the smoke screen being created by the TV refugees in various parties - those who have turned politics into a reality show lacking context, in which personal success is the only important issue - we ought, a moment before the apocalypse, to examine what's truly important. The facist religious train is approaching, and Begin, Meridor and Eitan won't be the only ones to be run over.

The frightening picture of politicians playing Pick Up Stix on the train tracks a moment before the train runs them over isn't new. What happened in the 1930s wouldn't have happened if the center, the moderate right and the left hadn't been pursuing their preplanned personal agendas as if the facist revolution in Europe weren't even a rumor. Thus it continued until they were personally crushed.

The public's racism versus Amir Peretz's covered binocular lenses misses the point. Sometimes one sees best in the dark. Peretz's call to vote against the right is the light that illuminates the darkness. It would behoove us to turn off the cynical television lights.

We have six weeks to step out of the "personal" and try to save the Zionist dream from seditious religious fascism. After, it will be plenty dark here for everyone.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017