Not my words, rather those of Atilla Nagy, Budapest chapter president of the Hungarian political party, Mi Hazank (Our Homeland), taken from his recent interview with Times of Israel reporter, Yaakov Schwartz.
“Hungary’s most radical nationalist party since WWII just won 7 seats in parliament. The far-right Our Homeland Movement is now the country’s third-largest party. Budapest chapter president Atilla Nagy speaks to ToI in a candid interview at the local headquarters” https://www.timesofisrael.com/hungarys-most-radical-nationalist-party-since-wwii-just-won-7-seats-in-parliament/
Those nine words got me thinking. Who decides what label is appropriate to describe a person's political thinking? And, if that label is applied, when does that tag become obsolete due to further movement in a new or more draconian direction?
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece entitled “Who Am I, Where Do I Stand?”. My aim at the time was to try and paint a picture of who I am and my beliefs. With the advantage of hindsight, I don’t feel that I achieved my aim, although I will of course allow others to judge me. I wrote at the time:
“I often find myself under attack, not physically thank goodness, because I am unable or unwilling to label myself left, center or right, and by default identify with a particular camp or creed.
Like many, maybe more than we know or people care to admit to, I have different stances on a range of issues. I don’t want to be identified by a single, all-encompassing label.
I consider myself a conservative/nationalist. Indeed, to borrow a line from the musical Evita, on some issues I stand “Slightly to the right of Attila the Hun”.
I am proud of my center-right conservative outlook. I am equally proud of being called a liberal-hawk. And I am proud of being labeled inconsistent, inconsequential, and irrelevant. I encompass a rainbow of views, feelings, dreams, and aspirations for Israel.
It’s no secret that I rage at the disappointment of those that we elect to govern us. Of course, no one is to blame but us. “
What is the definition of being a liberal?
The Internet offers a wide range of opinions. For me, the following comes closest to my understanding and feelings: Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support individual rights, including civil rights and human rights, democracy, secularism, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion and a market economy.
So then how is a fascist defined?
Again, the Internet offers legions of answers and explanations. In the short form, a fascist can best be described as someone who supports “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
The above description seems at complete odds with liberal ideas. And yet Mr. Nagy appears to uphold most, if not all of the above fascist bullet points. Of course, it could be that he is a ‘liberal fascist’?
Reading the Times of Israel article and Nagy’s words, I recall the now-famous quote from Martin Niemöller.
For those note familiar with Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). Niemöller was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany. He emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Niemöller enthusiastically welcomed Hitler and the Third Reich. A turning point in Niemöller's political sympathies came in the January 1934 meeting between Adolf Hitler, Niemöller, and two prominent Protestant bishops to discuss state pressures on churches. At the meeting, it became clear that Niemöller's phone had been tapped by the Gestapo (the German Secret State Police). It was also clear that the Pastors Emergency League (https://www.britannica.com/event/Synod-of-Barmen#ref841922), which Niemöller had helped found, was under close state surveillance. Following the meeting, Niemöller would come to see the Nazi state as a dictatorship, one which he would oppose.
Niemöller’s quoataion is:
First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Reading today’s story about French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, I am sure that not only French Muslims are apprehensive but also French Jews and many other groups, both religious and otherwise. What starts as a ban on headscarves moves on to other prohibitions.
French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen vowed Thursday to issue fines to Muslims who wear headscarves in public, as candidates made a final push for votes three days ahead of an election seen as increasingly close. https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/europe/1649329721-le-pen-vows-headscarf-fines-in-tight-french-election-battle
We would of course be wrong to think that only in Europe is the nationist right on the move. There has always been a strong nationist/right-wing Christian-dominated movement in the US, and as the New York Times has reported, that movement is becoming ever more conservative in its outlook.
The Growing Religious Fervor in the American Right: ‘This Is a Jesus Movement’ Rituals of Christian worship have become embedded in conservative rallies, as praise music and prayer blend with political anger over vaccines and the 2020 election. The New York Times: The Growing Religious Fervor in the American Right. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/06/us/christian-right-wing-politics.html
I am not sure where the Christians for Israel movement stands? My understanding is that while they are conservative in outlook, they are not hard-right as the New York Times article paints the new Christain-right.
Greene is openly anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-abortion. The list goes on. I get the picture that she is a conservative Christain but as such why is she by default antisemitic?
For Greene and her ilk, anyone who disagrees with the party line is a leftwing liberal crackpot socialist, regardless of whether this is indeed true or not.
To quote Greene “Our society is sick. Mothers are mutilating and murdering their babies through transgenderism and abortion. Meanwhile, society sits back and allows men to destroy women’s sports. How much more can America take before our civilization begins to collapse?”https://greene.house.gov/
Don’t think for a minute that the hard-right is only to be found in Europe and the US. Israel has its homebred crazies, the likes of Itamar Ben-Gvir, Michael Ben-Ari, Bezalel Smotrich, Baruch Marzel, Rabbi Tzvi Tau, and Avi Maoz, to name just a few of the leading hard-right wallies. To me at least it's interesting to note that just like the hard-right in the US, the hard-right in Israel is also driven by religious fervor.
The simple truth is that religion, all religion is a drug that many/most subscribe to. Religions were devised by man to enslave man. Why is it that all right-wing nationalists embrace religion with what appears to be a blind unquestioning devotion?
Itamar Ben-Gvir opts for every opportunity to criticize the IDF, the police, and the security forces. His recent outbursts aimed at Omer Bar-Lev, Israel’s Internal Security Minister, current national police head, Kobi Shabtai, and past police chief, Roni Alsheikh are prime examples. It’s worth remembering that this loudmouth quasi-thug was never in the army. When he came of age for conscription into the Israel Defense Forces at 18, he was exempted from service by the IDF due to his extreme-right political background.
And yet Ben-Gvir is no shy in badmouthing Omer Bar-Lev, a decorated IDF office with the rank of a colonel who was commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit between 1984 and 1987. Bar-Lev is the son of former IDF Chief of Staff and later government minister Haim Bar-Lev.
For the record, Kobi Shabtai, the 19th Commissioner of Israel Police, appointed in January 2021 was previously Commander of the Border Police. Shabtai served in the 202nd battalion, Paratrooper Brigade, leaving with the rank of major, and transferring to the Border Police. This year, 2022, marks his 40th year in uniform.
Roni Alsheikh, the previous head of the Israeli police, is an Israeli former intelligence officer. After serving as an officer in the IDF, Alsheikh joined the Shin Bet, the internal security arm of the Israeli government, equivalent to Britain's MI5. He rose to become the organization's deputy head before being appointed head of the Israel Police. Alsheikh was succeeded by Kobi Shabtai. And like Shabtai, Roni Alsheikh has been a faithful servant of the State of Israel for nearly 40 years.
These, amongst others, are the men that Ben-Gvir is ridiculing.
Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel are fervent supporters of the doctrine of the late Meir Kahane and the Kach political party. The two, along with Ben-Gvir, and others, make no pretense about the awe they hold the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein. To them, he is nothing short of a hero.
For those who don’t know/have forgotten, Goldstein perpetrated the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre in Hebron, killing 29 and wounding 125 Palestinian Muslim worshipers. Goldstein died at the scene of the carnage having been beaten to death by other worshipers.
If Bezalel Smotrich is given his way, he has made no bones about returning Israel to the stone age and engaging biblical judicial law. One may ask, what is the dipstick drinking? Israel is a modern first-world democracy. Yes, there are problems, numerous ones, but returning Israel to be governed as a biblical state will not solve any of the issues.
Avi Maoz heads the far-right Noam party, he is currently a member of the Knesset for the Religious Zionist Party serving alongside Smotrich, and Ben Gvir The RZP currently holds seven seats in the 120 seats of the Israeli parliament. Maoz is opposed to LGBT rights and women serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
Rabbi Tzvi Tau, is the doyen, the ayatollah, of the ultra hard-right religious stream. And as with all religious parties, certainly, in Israel, he is the go-to man for the above-mentioned gentlemen. This is what I meant earlier when I wrote that religions were devised by man to enslave man. Why is it mandatory to ask, and obtain the blessing of a rabbi for various actions? The religious public seems to accept that their elected Knesset members will not take a piss without the authorization of their rabbi. So within a national, right-wing Israeli government, it’s the rabbis who call the shots. And that my friend is Israeli democracy for you.
These hard right-wing ultranationalist fanatics make no secret of their wish to have Israel governed as a Halachic State, much along the lines of Iran or maybe even Afghanistan.
Think about this recent story:
“Rabbis go public with plea to cut off US Jewish funding of Israeli extremists. After rebuff, 19 clergy publicize letter to donor-advised Jewish Communal Fund asking it to stop supporting to Lehava group associated with far-right politician Itamar Ben-Gvir” https://www.timesofisrael.com/rabbis-go-public-with-plea-to-cut-off-us-jewish-funding-of-israeli-extremists/
In quoting Martin Niemöller earlier, I was thinking about myself and the situation in Israel rather than the wider picture in Europe and the US.
If one day the hard right-wing ultranationalist fanatics weld power in Israel, make no mistake, once they have in their words “cleansed” Israel of all Arabs, Christians, and other faiths, regardless of their citizenship, they will turn on the secular Jewish population.
A centrist government must be maintained in Israel. This is essential to the well-being and continued development and success of this country. The hard right-wing ultranationalist fanatics must be stopped.