Every few years, the Israeli right starts worrying that it’s no longer enough to curse the left with that hackneyed but effective term, “leftists.” Sometimes, rightists fear that the demonizing power of the original term has worn thin.

That’s when they pull out their doomsday weapon. Just like they did during the protests against then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or even the protests by Ethiopian Israelis, whenever the right wants to turn up the volume against a protest that is gaining support, they term the protesters, regardless of who they are, “anarchists.” Their goal is to undermine the legitimacy of the protesters and brand them “enemies of the state.”

That’s exactly why the right strove last week to turn members of the Bnei Avraham movement who had been attacked by Israeli soldiers in Hebron into “anarchists.”

The group of ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionist and traditional Jews had come to the city in response to the violence against Palestinians that took place the previous Saturday, when Jews flocked to the city for the annual celebration of the Chayei Sarah Torah portion.

Some of the Bnei Avraham members came because they had never been to Hebron and wanted to learn. Others came, as the group put it, “to visit the Palestinian residents who were attacked and show them that there are other Jews.” A study tour and a pluralistic Judaism – what anarchy.

Subsequently, hundreds of other Israelis who came to the city last Friday to protest against what was being done in their names were also dubbed “anarchists.” The army barred them from entering, and they obeyed the soldiers’ orders to stand in the parking lot. A gang of nerds holding signs and demonstrating in a parking lot – there’s no limit to the anarchy, rightists will tell you.

At a time when facts and truth no longer seem to have any meaning in the public conversation and even words themselves are being stripped of their meaning, we have no choice but to be stubborn about semantics. The leftist protesters in Hebron aren’t “anarchists” in the political sense. If anything, they seek to preserve some kind of imaginary liberal democratic order while still obeying the rules, even as settlers engage in civil disobedience and even physical attacks on soldiers, who represent the establishment.

“Anarchism,” like “leftism,” isn’t a dirty word. It’s an ideology based on the radical (also not a dirty word) aspiration to dismantle the institutions of the hierarchy. Like many other ideologies, it also had a variety of manifestations in history, some more successful and some less so.

Granted, most were and still are on the political and economic left, especially the Marxist left. But even the right has anarcho-libertarian and even anarcho-nationalist movements. Among other things, they assail the “progressive madness” (to quote rightist MK Avi Maoz).

In an interview, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, commenting on right-wing anarchists who broke into an army base, said that “there will always be anarchists who think the existing order is rotten clear through … There are religious anarchists, secular ones, rightists and leftists.” And he’s right.

Currently in Israel, an anarchist ideology is clearly discernible in right-wing circles. This is evident not only in the West Bank, where settlers are blatantly dismantling the state’s laws and institutions, but also in the way Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and the Kahanists seek to dismantle our common institutions and norms from the bottom up – the security services, the legal system, the media, academia, the cultural elites.

In recent years, the right has sought to utterly destroy all of them. It has even developed a pseudo-intellectual, neo-Marxist theory that calls for dismantling the hegemony’s hierarchies. But the right isn’t interested in the details or significance of anarchist ideology.

Rather, it seeks to tarnish the entire Israeli left with a kind of subversive, lawbreaking, even violent aura in the eyes of mainstream Israelis. It creates this association in part through the historical image of the armed Italian anarchists who fought the fascists.

And if the right identifies its historical rivals as anarchists in this context, then that already tells us what we ought to be proving about it.

QOSHE - Who Are the Real Anarchists in Hebron? - Noa Landau
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Who Are the Real Anarchists in Hebron?

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06.12.2022

Every few years, the Israeli right starts worrying that it’s no longer enough to curse the left with that hackneyed but effective term, “leftists.” Sometimes, rightists fear that the demonizing power of the original term has worn thin.

That’s when they pull out their doomsday weapon. Just like they did during the protests against then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or even the protests by Ethiopian Israelis, whenever the right wants to turn up the volume against a protest that is gaining support, they term the protesters, regardless of who they are, “anarchists.” Their goal is to undermine the legitimacy of the protesters and brand them “enemies of the state.”

That’s exactly why the right strove last week to turn members of the Bnei Avraham movement who had been attacked by Israeli soldiers in Hebron into “anarchists.”

The group of ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionist and traditional Jews had come to the city in response to the violence against Palestinians that took place the previous Saturday, when Jews flocked to the city for........

© Haaretz


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