[News] Trump's envoys enable Israel's worst extremists

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jun 13 11:05:36 EDT 2018


  Trump's envoys enable Israel's worst extremists

David Sheen <https://electronicintifada.net/people/david-sheen> - 13 
June 2018


When US ambassador to Israel David Friedman received a framed photograph 
of the Old City of Jerusalem last month it confirmed something obvious: 
Donald Trump’s envoys don’t just support the positions of Israel’s 
far-right government but stand even further to the right of it.

The picture showed the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque 
photoshopped out and replaced with a Jewish temple.

In the photo, first published 
<https://www.kikar.co.il/abroad/278113.html> by the Israeli news site 
/Kikar HaShabbat/, Friedman is seen grinning from ear to ear while being 
presented with the framed image, just days after he presided over the US 
moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Friedman appears to be delighted at the erasure of the al-Aqsa compound, 
among the most monumental architecture in historic Palestine, one of the 
principal sites revered by Muslims all over the world and an iconic 
symbol of Palestinian identity and nationalism.

The doctored image represents the fantasies of followers of the Temple 
movement <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/temple-movement>, 
messianic Jewish extremists who seek the destruction of the al-Aqsa 
and its replacement with a Jewish temple where they would conduct ritual 
animal sacrifice of around 10,000 animals at a time on Jewish holy days.

The group’s religious supporters believe building the temple will speed 
up the transition of Israel’s system of government from a mostly secular 
ethnocracy that privileges Jews, into total theocracy, where Orthodox 
Judaism is the only law of the land.

The movement’s secular supporters would lose many liberties under a 
Jewish theocracy, but they campaign for the construction of a Jewish 
temple regardless, believing it would mean slam-dunking on the 
Palestinian national movement once and for all.

The chief rabbi of the Temple movement, Yisrael Ariel 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/yisrael-ariel>, formerly served as 
the deputy of the late Israeli arch-racist Meir Kahane 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/meir-kahane> in the 1980s when he 
was a member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

Over the years, Ariel has held fast to Kahane’s genocidal views. In 
2015, he called to assassinate then-US President Barack Obama, and for a 
Jewish army to conquer the entire Middle East, including Iran and 
Turkey, destroying all mosques and churches and killing all Muslims and 
who do not renounce their religions.

After Friedman’s picture was published, the US embassy to Israel 
insisted that – despite appearances to the contrary – the photo did not 
represent any change in Washington’s official stance on al-Aqsa, 
stating, “The US policy is absolutely clear: we support the status quo 
on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount.”

The embassy also claimed that Friedman “was not aware of the image 
thrust in front of him when the photo was taken.”

But the Temple movement is so certain that the current US administration 
does in fact quietly support its maximalist goals that it recently 
minted a coin 
in honor of Trump.

The coin bears Trump’s face, alongside that of Cyrus the Great, a king 
of ancient Persia who Jewish tradition holds allowed the construction of 
a temple on the same spot about 2,500 years ago.

As for Friedman, it would not be out of character for him to support a 
movement led by supporters of Kahane who want to turn Israel into a 
total theocracy.

Just days before the US embassy move, it emerged that until the moment 
he was appointed US ambassador to Israel, Friedman headed a group – 
American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva Center – that funded the far-right 
Israeli organization Komemiut 

The family foundation of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior 
advisor, has also 
to the Friedman-headed group that funded the fanatical Komemiut 

Komemiut’s chief rabbi is Dov Lior 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/dov-lior>, who regularly eulogizes 
<http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/237804> Meir Kahane at 
the memorials held annually in his honor.

Lior is also a supporter 
<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14168618> of /The King’s 
Torah/ <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/kings-torah> – a religious 
text that permits Jews to murder non-Jews, even children, if one 
suspects that they may grow up to pose a threat to Jews.

The Kushners even made a donation to the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, a 
religious seminary in the occupied West Bank whose head rabbi Yitzhak 
Shapira <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/yitzhak-shapira> had 
authored /The King’s Torah/.

Lior, notably, is one of the rabbis who issued religious edicts 
that made Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin fair game for the 
assassin who shot him dead in November 1995 because he had signed the 
Oslo agreements with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

    Far-right ideology goes mainstream

The ideology of Israel’s far-right is gradually being adopted by the 

But if Friedman and Kushner have been supporting Israel’s most racist 
rabbis, they have not acted alone in this.

Yisrael Ariel’s Temple Institute receives funding from Israel’s 
education ministry to teach Jewish youth 
religious and secular, about Jewish temples, past and future.

Dov Lior’s Komemiut movement has hosted at its conferences not only 
government lawmakers and ministers, but also opposition lawmakers from 
the supposedly centrist parties Labor, Zionist Union and Yesh Atid, as 
well as former <http://www.komemiut.org/articles.asp?id=199> and current 
<http://www.komemiut.org/articles.asp?id=200> judges of Israel’s high court.

And the Derech Chaim movement, headed by founder of the Kushner-funded 
Od Yosef Chai seminary, is now supporting legislation 
<http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/224789> that would 
neuter that very high court, stripping it of the ability – which the 
court seldom uses anyway – to nullify laws that discriminate against 
Palestinians, other non-Jews and minority groups in general.

The fact that Trump’s envoys to Israel are signaling their support for 
these extremist groups, who all aspire to replace the al-Aqsa mosque 
with a Jewish temple, is indeed worrying. But it is especially 
unsettling when one considers that until relatively recently, these 
beliefs were nearly absent from the mainstream political discourse, even 
in Israel.

Just a few years ago, the Temple movement’s chief advocate in the 
Knesset was Moshe Feiglin 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/moshe-feiglin>, considered a 
far-right extremist.

In 1997, Feiglin was convicted of incitement 
<https://www.haaretz.com/1.4751745> because of the violent protests the 
movement he led engaged in prior to the assassination of Rabin, and for 
calling for actions against Palestinians.

But in more recent years, Feiglin and his followers worked from within 
the ruling Likud Party to promote his goals, including support for a 
Jewish temple.

And while he lost four Likud leadership races to Israeli Prime Minister 
Benjamin Netanyahu, Feiglin’s presence in the party – and his promotion 
to deputy speaker of the Knesset – legitimized the most extreme 
sentiments of Israel’s far right.

During Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Feiglin – 
then deputy speaker – called for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, 
and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters 

He called for the Palestinian civilian population to be deprived of 
water and electricity, “concentrated” in tent encampments along the 
Egyptian border and then expelled.

Increasingly frustrated at his inability to unseat Netanyahu, Feiglin 
eventually started his own political party in 2015, Zehut.

There have been no elections since he formed the party, and polls 
Zehut would struggle to break the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset 
if it ran on its own.

But Feiglin’s efforts to pull Netanyahu’s Likud Party even further to 
the right were wildly successful.

In recent years, multiple ministers 
in Netanyahu’s government have publicly embraced the goals of the Temple 

Just two weeks ago, Israel’s Jerusalem affairs minister Zeev Elkin 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/zeev-elkin>, also vying to become 
Israel’s next mayor of Jerusalem 
announced the launch of a new government body to promote Temple movement 
propaganda <https://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/372822>, or /hasbara/.

The new body reportedly has the blessing of Netanyahu.

Now that Feiglin’s fanatical fantasies are receiving a tailwind from top 
Israeli officials, and even from Trump’s ambassador David Friedman, it 
might be prudent to take note of Feiglin’s current activities, as they 
could very well foretell Israel’s trajectory, if its reactionary leaders 
are left to their own devices.

    Campaign video portrays politician slaying Palestinians

To be fair, incitement <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/incitement> 
against Palestinian people, their leaders and others defending their 
rights has long been a staple of Israeli political discourse.

In 2015, for example, Avigdor Lieberman – then Israel’s foreign minister 
and today its defense minister – called for Palestinian citizens of 
Israel who he deemed disloyal to the state to be decapitated 

But anti-Palestinian provocations recently hit a new low, with 
incitement to murder moving from the verbal domain to video.

In a new campaign video, Zehut’s Moshe Feiglin is depicted killing 
Palestinians, as well as Israelis and others whom he considers 
insufficiently hawkish.

The six-minute video, which has since been taken offline, depicts 
Feiglin as a swordsman, hacking and slashing through a legion of 
enemies, including Palestinian member of the Knesset Ahmad Tibi 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/ahmed-tibi> and a series of 
characters with flags labelling them as the embodiment of Palestine, the 
European Union and the United Nations.

Feiglin is also portrayed slaying characters meant to represent liberal 
Zionist Israeli organizations, such as the New Israel Fund and Women of 
the Wall.

A character representing the left-leaning Israeli newspaper /Haaretz/ is 
also killed by decapitation, and the death blow is delivered by a 
soldier with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Viewers are not left wondering whether this wanton killing should mostly 
fall on Feiglin’s shoulders.

The video also depicts Feiglin delivering his political manifesto to his 
soldiers assembled for battle. One of the gladiators – who include 
popular pundits from Israel’s far-right – is heard shouting back to 
Feiglin, “We are with you, sire! For freedom – to the death!”

The film was uploaded on 18 May by the Facebook page “Make Israel Great 
Again,” an account belonging to Feiglin’s Zehut party, but it had 
already been removed by 23 May.

It is unclear whether the video was taken down because its fight 
sequences contain unlicensed footage from a Hollywood feature film, 
2014’s /300: Rise of an Empire/, or because the video could constitute 
incitement to violence.

Other postings 
<https://twitter.com/AliAbunimah/status/1004080003363901440> on the same 
page clearly incite the killing of Palestinian political leaders.

While Israel is quick to convict 
Palestinians it accuses of “incitement” over innocuous Facebook postings 
including poems 
Jewish citizens are hardly ever charged with the crime, much less 
convicted, although the Internet, especially Facebook 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/israelis-facebook> is chock full 
of their calls to visit suffering and pain on Palestinians.

As such, Feiglin is unlikely to suffer any negative repercussions over 
the video.

But if Israeli support for far-right opinions only increased during the 
Obama administration, how long will it be before Feiglin’s message to 
murder Palestinians and and their alleged allies becomes normalized with 
Trump in the White House and the likes of Friedman and Kushner leading 
US policy on Israel?

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