Fortified and weakened identities of the Middle East - ZEKERIYA KURŞUN

Fortified and weakened identities of the Middle East

One of the democracies presented as a model for the Middle East and North Africa is the democracy of Israel. Of course, what is meant here is not the perfectly observed democratic practices but the observation of its rules. The results of the elections held Tuesday in Israel, therefore, need to be reevaluated. Of course, it is not our business to question the will of the Israeli people. Because the issue is not the parliamentary elections in Israel. The issue is leader types that have been legitimized for the Middle East and North Africa through the examples of Israel.

Before the elections, it was argued that Israeli voters attached importance to two issues: security and corruption.

However, Israel has experienced one of its most unstable periods in its history under the rule of Benjamin Netanyahu for the last 10 years. The security concerns and the fear of dissolution have made the Israeli government and even the people more aggressive. In a way, Netanyahu gained his power from the security concerns of the Israeli people. While doing this, instead of an Israel that follows a more secure path based on peace, he created a country which is more aggressive and further open to the foreign threats. Its hostile sentiments not only threatened the innocent Palestinians but also non-Jewish Israeli citizens and anti-Zionist Jews. On the other hand, thanks to the support he garnered from the international community, especially from Trump, his insistence on turning Israel into a Jewish/fascist state; the pressure to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and drive the Muslim and Christian populations out of Eastern Jerusalem; and lastly his declaration that he is going to annex the settlements in West Bank, in reality the West Bank itself, proved that Netanyahu is the greatest threat for the security of the region.

Moreover, there are even claims that the missiles striking Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip at the most critical times might be Netanyahu’s doing. Even though many corruption cases were opened against him, isn’t it surprising that this didn’t have any influence on the preferences of the voters? It could be inferred that the corruption cases named as cases 1000, 2000, and 4000 in Israel, in which Netanyahu is the primary suspect of all three, didn’t have any significant impact on the voters.

The leader of the Blue-White alliance, Benny Grants, based his campaign strategy on a more secure and cleaner Israel. Even though he was is successful as Netanyahu, the fact that Grants didn’t have the chance to become president actually points to a serious problem on the establishment of the Israeli identity.

Despite all these developments, social concerns and even traumas, the outcome of the elections in Israel reveals that significant results were obtained with the Jewish identity which has been fortified since 1896. The last elections show that a new improved Jewish identity is being constructed which can defend or ignore the oppression of the “other,” and can be aggressive even though they themselves pose a threat to the security of those “others.” It is a fact that there are Jewish people both within Israel and abroad who think differently. However, despite the objections of the conservative Jews, there is no doubt that the Jewish identity constructed by the Zionist mind is more visible and active.

The threat that a fortified racist/Jewish identity poses is not only a threat against people living in Israel or against Palestinians. This perception and understanding threaten the peace in the region and the entire world. There is only one example we can present from history and that is Hitler’s fascism which was based on a completely different understanding, anti-Semitism. Today, the world is still the under the yoke of Hitler and the disaster his line of thinking brought about. Hitler, who wanted to construct a fortified German identity, dragged the entire world to chaos. Nevertheless, his projects remained incomplete. In fact, it is obvious that Israel, which claims to be the victim of this process, has come a long way on this dangerous path.

There is another aspect of this situation, which is watched and supported by the hegemons of the world alone, that concerns the region. While a fortified racist identity is being constructed in Israel, we see the construction of weakened identities in the Middle East and North Africa. When we take a look at the countries of the Arab Spring, which was initiated with the demands for rights, justice, freedom, jobs, and food, this situation can be blatantly observed.

Take a look at Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and even Algeria. Despite all the mass movements and justified demands of the people, instead of the construction of an identity of free citizens and a fortification of the people’s will, how can we explain the support given to the dictators who are usurping their people’s will? In short, while the people’s will is being destroyed in the Middle East and North Africa through weakened identities, a Netanyahu type leadership is being promoted.


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