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“The Only Democracy in the Middle East” 

Is a Fascist State

Editors’ note: This article by Paul Street, historian and author, originally appeared on December 1 at The Paul Street Report.

Israeli forces prevent Palestinian Muslim worshipers from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, November 17, 2023.


Israeli forces prevent Palestinian Muslim worshipers from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque, November 17, 2023.    Photo: AP

Killing and Displacing “Human Animals” at a Record Pace

The most obvious evidence in support of the thesis that Israel is a fascist state is the brutal racist occupation and apartheid it has long imposed with mass-murderous military and paramilitary force on the Palestinian people. The lethal force has obviously escalated in the last two months, with the Hamas terror attack of October 7 providing Tel Aviv pretext to carry out a savage program of ethnic cleansing that has so far displaced 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents while killing more Gazan women and children over the last seven weeks than all the women and children killed in Ukraine over the last two years (my last Paul Street Report went into some of the readily available and horrific details). The only thing new here is the terrible pace at which Israel is killing Palestinian people, who have been described in fascist terms as “human animals” by Israel’s Defense Minister.

Third World Fascism, Inc.

There are at least two other key pieces of evidence in support of the notion that Israel is a fascist state. Also worth noting is what the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) has called “Israel’s Worldwide Role in Repression.” Israel has for many decades turned its expertise in repression, developed through the displacement and oppression of the Palestinians, into a global industry linked to US-backed Third World Fascism across the planet:

“Israel’s unique skills in crowd control, forced displacement, surveillance and military occupation have resulted in placing it at the forefront of a global industry of repression: it develops, manufactures, and markets technologies that are used by armies and police around the world for purposes of repression. Israel's role in this industry began with the Israeli military, which first used its weapons of war against Palestinian people in historic Palestine, and against neighboring countries. In recent years, as interest in surveillance and policing technologies and techniques has grown among governments around the world, an Israeli ‘homeland security’ private service industry built on these field-tested instruments has emerged to exploit and export this interest…Israel has provided arms, trained militia and military and civilian police, developed and provided surveillance technology and repression strategies, and supplied the means for a broad array of other control techniques from ‘non-lethal’ weapons to border technology. Israel has played a role in arming and training the apartheid regimes of South Africa and Rhodesia, colonial regimes in the Middle East and North Africa (otherwise known as Southwest Asia and North Africa, or SWANA), and dictators in Central and South America and Asia. The Israeli government has assumed a major, worldwide role in enforcing limitations on the freedom of movement, policing of communities, and undermining peoples' struggles for justice…... Israel sells its weapons, technologies, training, and techniques of violence to those it considers allies and even to those whom it considers enemies. Israel sells or has sold to Islamist, communist, capitalist, dictatorial, and social democratic states. The driving force behind Israeli arms exports, in addition to the profit motive, is the need for a close and strong alliance with major imperialist powers that provide it with continuous military and diplomatic support, economic markets and access to power. Therefore, Israel has prioritized selling weapons to the allies and agents of these powers.”

The market for Israel’s tools and techniques of repression, tested on the Palestinians, includes US police forces, who are entrusted with the enforcement of domestic America de facto race-class apartheid and the feeding of the world’s largest mass incarceration system – the giant racist US prison regime.

“Right Now, it is a Fascist Regime”

A third sign of Israel’s fascist essence is the repression is has inflicted on those among its own population who have criticized its latest attack on the Palestinian people, the biggest such assault since the original Nakba. Two weeks after Hamas’s horrific October 7 attack, Israel’s police chief, Kobi Shabtai, announced that there would be “zero tolerance” for antiwar protests. Shabtai threatened to send anti-war demonstrators to Gaza as it was being bombarded on an unprecedented scale. “Whoever wants to become an Israeli citizen, welcome,” Shabtai said. “Anyone who wants to identify with Gaza is welcome. I will put him on the buses heading there now. I’ll help them get there…there will be zero tolerance for any instance of incitement … there will be no authorization for protests…we’re not in a situation where we will allow all sorts of people to come and test us.”

How fascistic was that?

Since the start of Israel’s latest and fiercest war on Gaza, hundreds of Israelis, Jews included, have been arrested on suspicion of backing or sparking “terror.” The cause of arrest, the alleged “terrorism,” is any sign of opposition to Israel’s war of terror on Gaza. Social media posts deemed insufficiently supportive of Israel’s criminal crucifixion of Gaza have been enough to bring detention. Jewish and Palestinian Israelis are being persecuted for thought crimes. Israeli police have scoured social media looking for signs that any of their nation’s citizens have expressed “support for Hamas.” The Israeli Knesset has passed a measure criminalizing the "systematic and continuous consumption of publications of a terrorist organization,” threatening Israelis with incarceration for what they read, view, and hear.

Extending censorship to the Imams of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli police have forbidden Muslim clerics from mentioning the attack on Gaza in their Friday sermons.

The Israeli Supreme Court refused to permit anti-war protests in the Palestinian towns of Um el-Fahem and Sakhnin. “When a handful of Palestinian politicians, some former members of the Knesset, attempted to protest the war in Nazareth, the Israeli police swiftly rounded them up,” The New Arab reports. Further:

“Dr. Meir Baruchin, an Israeli activist opposing the war on Gaza, was recently detained and investigated for sedition and intent to commit treason. He was put in solitary confinement for four days. The 62-year-old was, until recently, civics and American history teacher at a high school in Petah Tikva. His employer, the Petah Tikva municipality, filed a complaint with the police after he published posts on Facebook critical of the Israeli army and government's conduct in the war in Gaza.”

Dr. Baruchin has been fired for daring to speak against collective punishment and the murder of children.

An Israeli parliament ethics committee suspended the leftist Knesset member Ofer Cassif for 45 days after Cassif criticized Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Cassif was punished for having the decency to note that:

  • Israel’s leaders had long welcomed Hamas as a tool to help prevent the formation of an independent Palestinian state.
  • something like October 7 was inevitable given heightened Israeli terrorization of Palestine people both in Gaza and in the West Bank.
  • the authoritarian and genocidal Netanyahu government relished the opportunity October 7 gave it to carry out a massive displacement campaign in Gaza (The New York Times has today reported that the Israel military had detailed knowledge of Hamas’s October 7 plan “more than a year ago”).

In an interview published on Truthout in late October, Cassif noted that the Israeli government was handing out weapons to Zionist-fascist militia and criminal “settlers.” Cassif also noted that Israeli dissenters faced mob violence enabled by the Israel police – a “fascist” situation that menaced one of his good friends:

“…it is forbidden to demonstrate and protest against the war. The ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ forbids demonstrations, of both Arab and Jewish citizens—not in support of Hamas, perish the thought—but to oppose the war or simply express humane sympathy for the innocent civilians of Gaza. They are not allowed to do so. Yesterday, there was an attempt by my friends and comrades in Haifa, in the north of Israel, to demonstrate. It was brutally disbanded by the police who beat them and arrested some of them. Right now, it is a fascist regime, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg… It is forbidden to express sympathy for the people of Gaza. It’s forbidden to express pain for the kids in Gaza being killed. It’s forbidden to object to the war on social media. People have been fired from their workplaces for doing so. Students have been suspended from their colleges and universities... there are many Jews this is affecting as well. A friend of mine, just today, announced that he was fired from a school he was teaching in because he wrote an objection to the war on Facebook… It is now legitimate to kill and shoot Palestinian citizens as well as democratic or leftist Jews, as far as the public discourse is concerned. It is not only the public discourse, as the police have turned into a private militia of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir… One week ago, there were two demonstrations in Tel Aviv against the war. It was still allowed then. At one of them, the police beat some of the demonstrators, men and women who were 70-plus years old. And then another slightly bigger demonstration, a few hours afterwards, again in Tel Aviv, was viciously and violently attacked by bystanders. The police didn’t help the demonstrators and assisted those who attacked them… It is not just the police. There are militias of settlers and bigots who are now armed by the state. The minister that I mentioned, this bigot, issued a decree that makes it easier for everyone to get arms. Many of the people, not all, but many of the people who are armed now are bigots of the kind like Baruch Goldstein, the man who assassinated 29 Palestinian worshippers in Hebron 30 years ago… Blood is going to be spilled within Israel by these fascists, by these militias that I mentioned are accompanied by the police—who themselves are already functioning as a militia. They are trained. They have training camps. They are organized on social networks and WhatsApp. They have targets, names of leftists and Palestinians with their addresses etc. The writing is on the wall. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. They are now motivated, equipped with arms and training, and with a green light from the government. It’s only a matter of time before they begin to shoot people… There is a good friend of mine—a very radical leftist who is also an ultra-Orthodox Jew. He is a very prominent voice against the occupation and racism. His name is Israel Frey. He lives in Bnei Brak. He was assaulted by a right-wing Israeli mob a few days ago at his house. They didn’t succeed in entering the house, but outside there were a few hundred people who were throwing things. I called him once I heard what was going on. When I got a hold of him, he couldn’t really speak, as it was clear that he was defending his little kids in his house and couldn’t get out. He was afraid that they would break in… It took time for the police to get there. When they got there, they accompanied him into his car and left him there. They didn’t defend him. They didn’t protect him. They didn’t accompany him to a secure place. They just left him there, and he had to run with his car with the mob chasing him until he got to a hospital in Tel Aviv where he could enter and use the security of the hospital. For a few days now, he’s been hiding in a shelter. There’s no protection from the state and from the police.”

Textbook fascism.