Where is Israel heading to?

General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, delivered a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. He said, "If there is something that frightens me about the memories of the Holocaust, it is the knowledge of the awful processes which happened in Europe in general, and in Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding traces of them here in our midst, today, in 2016."

This speech by General Golan speaks volumes. He has compared today’s Israeli state with Hitler’s Germany. Ninety years ago in 1926 Germany was witnessing one of the last years of the Weimar Republic, which with its collapse brought the Nazis into power in 1933 (almost 80 years ago) who carried out the ‘final solution’ for the Jewish minority there. With an emboldened fascism and unfathomed power, Hitler took his nation into the Second World War (1939-1945) and ultimately committed suicide nearly 70 years ago in 1945, thus ending the Nazi Reich.

By any measure, pre-Hitler Germany was the most cultured European nation. It was the birthplace of Goethe, Beethoven and Kant. And yet 83 years ago, Germany democratically elected a psychopath like Adolf Hitler as its leader!

Today, Israel is touted as the only democracy in the Middle East, in spite of all its flaws.

Under Benjamin Netanyahu, is Israel witnessing the dawning of Jewish fascism? Many Israelis and westerners are dismissive of the brewing trouble, even after the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, probably the last of the so-called moderate voices within Netanyahu’s government. By so doing they forget that Hitler’s march to power started in 1929, when a terrible worldwide economic depression hit Germany hard. Hitler was able to exploit the depressing political - e.g., the humiliating surrender of Germany in World War One, the signing of the Versailles Pact, and loss of German territories to France and Belgium - and economic conditions (e.g., loss of millions of jobs) to rally the German crowd behind the Nazi ideology. It took only took another four years for his party to become the most popular party in Germany and put him into power. Fuehrer Hitler was treated as the new savior and saying "Heil Hitler" became the norm everywhere inside Germany.

Netanyahu and his Likud Party are seen as the saviors of the Jewish people by many Israelis today while the discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian people is at an all time high -- comparable to the treatment of the Jews in the first phase of Nazi Germany.

Israeli government actions against protesting Palestinians have been excessively harsh, and often times tantamount to torture. This was also the conclusion of a U.N. panel against torture, which on Friday expressed concerns about allegations of "excessive use of force," including deadly force, by Israeli security forces in the Palestinian Territories, and warned about authorities barring access to detained suspects, including minors.

The Committee Against Torture, which works under the office of the UN human rights chief, released its "concluding observations" about Israel and five other countries that included France, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines — as part of regular reviews by the panel.

In a 12-page segment on Israel, the committee pointed to "allegations of excessive use of force, including lethal force, by security forces" at demonstrations, in response to attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis and took aim at Israel's controversial policy of administrative detention, under which it can arrest suspects and hold them without charge for months at a time.

The committee said that 700 people — including 12 minors — were reportedly in administrative detention even as its members were discussing the issue with Israeli officials. Panel co-chair Jens Modvig of Denmark said administrative detentions can last "for months or even years," with almost no access to those detained.

But such incriminatory reports from the U.N. will not be able to stop Israeli government crimes against the Palestinian people. Instead, with powerful friends in the West and the U.N., Israel is seemingly on a slippery slope towards fascism under Netanyahu.

As peace activist Uri Avnery has recently pointed out the deluge of racist bills in the Knesset, those already adopted and those in the works, strongly resembles the laws adopted by the Reichstag in the early days of the Nazi regime. Like the racist Nazis, some Jewish rabbis are calling for a boycott of Arab shops.

“The call ‘Death to the Arabs’ ("Judah verrecke"?) is regularly heard at soccer matches. A member of parliament has called for the separation between Jewish and Arab newborns in hospital. A Chief Rabbi has declared that Goyim (non-Jews) were created by God to serve the Jews. Our Ministers of Education and Culture are busy subduing the schools, theater and arts to the extreme rightist line, something known in German as Gleichschaltung. The Supreme Court, the pride of Israel, is being relentlessly attacked by the Minister of Justice. The Gaza Strip is a huge ghetto,” opines Avnery.

Netanyahu has recently named Avigdor Lieberman to replace defence minister Yaalon. Lieberman is known for his gross racism, and has called for the execution of Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament who reportedly met with members associated with Hamas, and has signed on to controversial legislation, such as the so-called "loyalty oath" that would be required of Israeli citizens to maintain their citizenship. He has also called for the annexation of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and for the transfer of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Israel has been a colonial enterprise, and thus, Lieberman’s unfiltered remarks should not come as a surprise to anyone. Since its illegal birth, nearly seven decades ago, the apartheid state has been in the business of grabbing Palestinian-owned land. As I have noted elsewhere the entire litany of episodes that led to the implantation of European Jewry in the Holy Land - from the Balfour Declaration, nearly a century ago, to the highly controversial plan by the United Nations to partition Palestine in the aftermath of World War Two to today's land-grabbing activities - have all been illegal.

Before the apartheid state was born the Jewish community in Palestine owned only 2.5 % of the total land, and yet it was given 56% of the total land in one of the most outrageous crimes of the last century. The Palestinians and neighboring Arabs were not consulted by the UN in this criminal land distribution. The rest is history. Israel was born 68 years ago.

In its so-called War of Independence, the newly declared Jewish state with its Zionist terrorists succeeded not only onto grabbing 77% of the total land, which was 21% more than what the UN allotted, but also into evicting nearly 770,000 indigenous Palestinians from their ancestral homes. In the 1967 War, Israel was able to occupy the remainder part of Palestine. She has been slowly but steadily, ever since, doing everything possible to let the Jewish settlers from outside to grab the personal land properties of the Palestinians.

Consider, e.g., the case of Muhammad Abu Ta’ah, whose story has been captured recently by Charlotte Silver in the Electronic Intifada. Last November, Abu Ta’ah arrived at his property in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem only to find it had been fenced off by contractors.

On the three-dunum plot of land, construction had begun on a four-story, 70-office building that would make up the new headquarters for the private settler group Amana.

The property had once been part of an expansive 4,000 dunums (nearly 1,000 acres) of land which Israel expropriated in 1968, one year after its military occupied East Jerusalem. On that land, the state built the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol settlements, in addition to a government compound.

Much of this land had been owned by the Abu Ta’ah family. Until now, they had retained this last slice of property, located between a Palestinian hospital and a main thoroughfare, rented part of it to a car business and turned the rest into a large parking lot.

But now it belongs to Amana, the development arm of the Gush Emunim settlement movement, which has been integral to Israeli colonization of many parts of the occupied West Bank.

Amana also owns Al-Watan, a company based in the West Bank that buys Palestinian land for Jewish settlement and which has been involved in forging Palestinian signatures in dubious land purchases.

A new investigation by the settlement watchdog group Peace Now reveals how several Israeli ministries, led by the Israel Land Administration (ILA), went to extraordinary lengths to steal the Abu Ta’ah family’s last piece of land in order to give it to Amana.

The investigation shows that at every step of the way, the ILA helped Amana circumvent bureaucratic roadblocks to ensure the land became theirs.

“First they exempted Amana from the duty to hold a tender,” Hagit Ofran of Peace Now told the Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz.

“Then they approved its building plan without it having any real rights to the land. Later the finance minister signed an expropriation in order to retrospectively whitewash the transfer of the land to Amana, and finally, today too, the state continues to fiercely guard this illegal behavior in court, instead of righting the wrongs and returning the land to its owners.”

With all the filthy money pouring in from overseas, the settlement activities in the Occupied Palestine are going on non-stop and I see no cessation of such illegal activities any time soon.

Israel recently celebrated her birthday, while it was a Day of Catastrophe for all the Palestinians. They call it ‘Al-Nakbah’ Day. Nada Elia, a Palestinian, wrote on the significance of this day, "Sixty-eight years into our catastrophe, Palestinians in the West Bank are still losing towns, homes, land, olive groves, to the Zionist settlers."

But more problematic is the attitude of Israeli Jews on the recent execution style murder of an injured Palestinian youth in Hebron by a trigger-happy Israeli soldier. The latter is treated as a hero, and asked to be decorated by the state. During his trial, Lieberman entered the crowded courtroom in order to express his solidarity with the soldier. Prime Minister Netanyahu also called his father to assure him of his support.

When a war criminal is celebrated as a celebrity, there is something utterly wrong in that society.

General Golan has been quite prophetic about the recent appointment of Lieberman as the Defense Minister. The appointment says a lot about the direction Israel is heading.

History has shown that democracy is not a sufficient bulwark against the rise of fascism – something that needs to be pondered seriously not only by the Israelis but also by the Americans and Europeans with the rise of populist fascists in their midst these days.

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