Guardian columnist Giles Fraser has compared white supremacism to ‘right-wing’ Zionism.
Fraser, in his Aug. 17th column, faults Israel’s prime minister for his three-day delay in condemning the antisemitism in Charlottesville, which he contextualises by citing a recent interview on Israeli TV with Richard Spencer, a Charlottesville hate rally leader. During the interview, Spencer compared his white supremacist ideology to Jewish nationalism.
Fraser comments on it thusly:
Speaking on Israel’s Channel 2 News on Wednesday, the alt-right’s Richard Spencer, one of the leaders of the Charlottesville rally, gave an astonishing example of this “antisemites for Israel” philosophy. “Jews are vastly over-represented in what you would call ‘the establishment’ and white people are being dispossessed from this country,” he said of the US. Yet he continued: “An Israeli citizen, someone who has a sense of nationhood and peoplehood, and the history and experience of the Jewish people, you should respect someone like me who has analogue feelings about whites. You could say I am a white Zionist – in the sense that I care about my people, I want us to have a secure homeland for us and ourselves. Just like you want a secure homeland in Israel.”
Fraser then insinuates that Spencer may have a point:
This is staggering stuff. Richard Spencer is the man who chanted “Heil Trump” during a Washington rally. His followers responded with the Nazi salute. Praise from a man mired in the worst sort of antisemitism should prompt soul-searching on the right of Israel’s political establishment. These are not admirers that they should want.
This is beyond disingenuous.
First, imagine the reaction of Fraser, who’s an outspoken Jeremy Corbyn supporter, if he and others within the British far-left were asked to “search their souls” when, last year, former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke (another white supremacist leader who spoke in Charlottesville) praised the Labour Party leader for his ‘brave’ opposition to Zionism.
Moreover, the suggestion that Spencer, who has quoted Nazi propaganda and refused to denounce Adolf Hitler for murdering six million Jews (1:46 of this video), truly “admires” the Jewish state is absurd. Spencer wants the US to be a ‘racially pure’ white European state, and has previously said he doesn’t consider Jews to be European. So, this ‘support’ for Zionism – if it exists – is likely utilitarian: his goal of an all-white US would be advanced by non-racially pure American Jews fleeing en masse to Israel.
More shocking, some concede that Spencer and his like have reason to find common cause with some of Israel’s outer political fringes. As the former PM Ehud Barak said of Charlottesville: “You can’t say you don’t see things here that bear a certain similarity – when you look at the Lehava demonstrations or La Familia activity, or the ranting against journalists covering Netanyahu investigations.”
Lehava is an acronym of the Hebrew for “Prevention of Assimilation in the Holy Land”. It is especially against mixed marriages (like mine) between Israeli Jews and non-Jews. And it also wants to rid Israel of Christianity. La Familia are fans of the Beitar Jerusalem football team. A few months ago I went to see them playing an Israeli Arab team from Galilee, Bnei Sakhnin – though the Sakhnin fans were not allowed into the ground. My remedial Hebrew was not enough to make out what they were singing to the rows of empty seats opposite. “We are going to burn your village down,” was how my friend translated it.
As you can see, Fraser’s ‘evidence’ to support his suggestion of an overlap between “right-wing” Zionism and US-style white supremacism is practically non-existent. It consists of one quote from a former prime minister (desperate to stay politically relevant) citing some racist football fans and one marginal extremist group which has been condemned by political leaders from across the Israeli political spectrum.
Barak is right, the parallels with Charlottesville are sometimes difficult to avoid. And the problem everywhere with these outer fringes is that they are getting less and less outer. Frightening, isn’t it?
The only conclusion “difficult to avoid” is that Fraser seems to salivate at every opportunity to demonise Israel, even if he has to legitimise the sophistry of a white supremacist to do so.
Finally, Tablet senior writer Yair Rosenberg deconstructs Spencer’s putative ‘support’ for Zionism in this video.