By Gideon Levy
Palestinian children, who fled their house amid Israeli strikes, shelter at a United Nations-run in the southern Gaza Strip, October 18, 2023.Credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS
And darkness was upon the face of the deep. Upon the face of the abyss of the massacre in the south, darkness is taking hold of Israel. Now it is still a gathering of clouds, but it may turn to darkness: Israel is going mad. The left is “wising up,” the right is growing more extreme,and McCarthyism and fascism reign.
Wartime is always a time of silencing, uniformity of opinion, racism, incitement and hatred; absolute enlistment in service of propaganda, the end of tolerance and the persecution of anyone who dares step out of line. The atrocities perpetrated by Hamas in the south brought all of these manifestations to extreme levels, as if the atrocities justify the loss of all restraint.
The emotional turmoil is of course understandable, but not the totalitarianism that has followed in its wake. If it is not stopped, the danger posed to democracy will be a thousand times that posed by the government coup, which made the whole system here go haywire.
The first to lose their minds were, as usual, the leftists. They “wised up.” Those who before the war set out with determination to fight for democracy are now sabotaging it with their own hands. Those who before the war considered themselves liberals, people of peace and human rights, are now adopting an updated worldview: They are indifferent to the atrocities taking place in the Gaza Strip; a majority even want to see them intensified.
Why? Because they perpetrated atrocities against us. For how long? Until the end. At what cost? At any cost. This left now thinks about Gaza exactly as the right does: Strike and strike, it’s the only option.
Those who before the war underestimated the importance of addressing apartheid and the fate of the Palestinian people now think, to hell with everyone. They can go hang. Let them suffocate. Let them die. Let them be expelled. Those who before the war considered themselves enlightened now support consensus.
Hamas also turned the Israeli left upside down. From now on, Israel is permitted to do anything to Gaza; the left will even give its blessing. From now on, it is forbidden to even empathize with the residents of Gaza.
Human rights activist and former Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer watched Amira Hass shedding inspiring tears over the fate of Gaza’s inhabitants and hastened to write: “I admit that I have grown numb.”
Even in the face of the bodies of 2,360 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry as of Tuesday, the left’s heart is sealed. As at the start of every war, this left is for it. The left “wises up,” and afterward somehow returns to itself. That seems unlikely this time.
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The situation is even worse outside of the left. Fascism has become the only proper position. The local TV stations aligned themselves with Channel 14; when it comes to Gaza there’s no difference. Reporters and anchors call Hamas Nazis in a repulsive display of Holocaust trivialization and denial, and the crowd cheers. Hamas did abominable things, but they’re not Nazis.
Any other opinion is now condemned to persecution. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke truthfully and courageously about the context of the October 7 atrocities, and hastened to stress that nothing can justify the horrific attacks by Hamas; Israel responded with a frenzied attack on Guterres, whipped up by the media. Every diplomatic correspondent who never expressed an opinion on anything knows that the secretary general’s remarks were “outrageous.”
I, for one, was not outraged. They were true. The actor Maisa Abd Elhadi was detained by police and held overnight over a social-media post that broke no law, and Israeli TV channels are removing her films from their streaming archives. McCarthyism would be ashamed.
The ransomed captive Yocheved Lifshitz gave a moving performance, and the mainstream journalists complain because she told the truth. PR consultant and internet personality Rani Rahav sees a video of the destruction in Gaza and writes: “That’s how I like it!!!” (All of the drooling exclamation marks are in the original text).
Journalist Zvi Yehezkeli urges Gaza’s destruction nightly. The entire Gaza Strip. And his Channel 13 News colleague Netali Shem Tov sees “too many buildings standing in Gaza.” Such is the distilled evil in the face of the Gaza catastrophe, the horrors of which are almost never shown to Israelis.
This is the dark time. The time of the barbaric attack by Hamas and the time of the lost conscience and sense of reason in Israel.
Gideon Levy is an Israeli journalist and author. Levy writes opinion pieces and a weekly column for the newspaper Haaretz that often focus on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Levy has won prizes for his articles on human rights in the Israeli-occupied territories.
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Views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and does reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.