Israel: Will “Hilltop Youth” co-opt rent protests?

We’ve already noted that the angry rent protests Tel Aviv hold the potential for an historic and truly threatening (to the power structure) convergence of the global econo-protests (most advanced in Greece and Spain), the Arab Spring, and the Palestinian struggle. But we’ve also noted how, if the movement fails to explicitly solidarize with the Palestinians, it can be derailed by the lure of fascistic pseudo-solutions. Here, alas, is evidence for this latter tendency. Ha’aretz reports Aug. 3 that a group of far-right West Bank settler activists who call themselves the “Hilltop Youth” have established their own camp within the Tel Aviv tent town.

We are told they are wearing shirts with slogans such as “Tel Aviv is Jewish” and “Jews, let us be victorious.” Meir Butler, one of their leaders, told Ha’aretz, “We can came here to say ‘yes’ to the social protests, but to also say that there is a solution.” The solution, he said, “is to build in Judea and Samaria.”

When they held a march, the chanted slogan was “No to bringing down the government, yes to solving the crisis.”

This is practically a textbook case of classical fascism—assuming a bogus populist stance that actually channels anger away from the appropriate targets (the rulers), in favor of a program of what the Nazis called lebensraum—seeking “living room” for the “master race” (in this case, substitute “chosen people”) on lands in the east, where an inferior people can be pushed out of the way by military means.

Before you call Godwin’s Law on us, please explain the flaws in our analogy.

We’ll be waiting.

See our last posts on Israel/Palestine, the global econo-protests and the Arab Spring

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  1. Exaggerated
    The incredibly popular housing protests ought to get us thinking about how the government might find an exit strategy. Proposals have already been made, to produce student housing, to increase public transit connecting outlying towns and cities with the metropole, expediting building projects and treating the complaints about housing prices as a problem of a housing shortage. Military expenditures and natural parks have also been said to be budgets (and lands) to be negotiable in the shift of budget expenses to calm to protests. All these issues need to be taken into consideration. It’s possible that Netanyahu will push for settlement expansion for example, to “fix the housing shortage problem,” therefore further taking territory set to become a future Palestinian state. But I think the Nazi comparison is extreme, and the right-wing group you cite to be a tiny minority amongst the participants.

    1. But not invalid
      We certainly hope the Hilltop Youth remain a small minority among the Tel Aviv rent protesters. The Nazi comparison may be “extreme” (we are discussing political extremism after all), but you have not demonstrated that it is in any way invalid.

      1. Manipulation
        No, and I am not going to respond to your ridiculous analogy. I am not a fool. You are being completely manipulative with this post. You pretend to be writing about the housing protests, but it is clear you only use that to push an ideological crusade, “zionism=nazism.” You’re trying to trap your readers into a conversation having nothing to do with the protests. Of course, attempts to “solve” the housing crisis with West Bank settlement expansion is directly relevant to the topic, but your ideological crusade to equate zionism with nazism has nothing to do with these issues.

        1. “Zionism = Nazism”?
          If you’ve been paying attention (and I think you have), you should know that I have called out others for making crude “Zionism = Nazism” analogies, and repeatedly at that. Accusing me of an “ideological crusade” is just a way of avoiding the point—which is not that “Zionism = Nazism” but that the Hilltop Youth are posing a fascistic pseudo-solution to the crisis. Now, do you want to stop getting all defensive and actually give me an honest response instead of kneejerk paranoia? If you don’t think that these “Hilltop Youth” hoodlums represent a fascist response to the crisis, please explain the flaws in my analogy. Again, I’ll be waiting.

          1. More deception
            Nope, you’re being deceptive.

            The one thing is whether the “Hilltop Boys” are a fascist group and whether they “are posing a fascistic pseudo-solution to the crisis”. Maybe that is accurate. I haven’t wasted too much time looking into this group, partly because of their irrelevance to the protests. Your fear of them “co-opting” the protests is alarmist. This doesn’t mean that Netanyaju wont try and “solve” the housing crisis through settlement expansion, but this doesn’t mean that “fascism” has come to power.

            The real ideological crusade you’re pushing _in this post_ — and which you’ve made clear in the baiting you do in the last few sentences of your post — is to equate West Bank Settlement construction with Nazi “Lebensraum” policy. This is absurd and in your honest and private thoughts probably know that to be true. That dogma is similar to Gaza=Warsaw Ghetto equations and all other Zionism=Nazism dogma. And it doesn’t deserve a response.

            1. Weasel response
              You misconstrue my argument as a simplistic “Zionism = Nazism” formula, and then say it doesn’t deserve a response. If that were what I was saying, it wouldn’t. But it isn’t what I am saying. I’m glad you are so sanguine about how insignificant these Hilltop thugs are, and I certainly hope they remain marginal. It would be even better if they were forthrightly repudiated. But I never made any vulgar Zionism-Nazism equations An analogy is not an “equation,” and my point was never to “equate” the Nazi occupation of Poland with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. My point, which I think is pretty clear to those without axes to grind, is that the Hilltop Youth are posing a fascistic pseudo-solution to the crisis. Do you have anything to say about that? If not, please do not distort what I wrote, or try to sidetrack the the discussion by painting me as the kind of anti-Semitic idiot that I get so much flack for calling out. Thank you.

              1. blah
                The Hilltop Boys were attacked at the tent city, and their tents set on fire by other demonstrators. At the Saturday night rally, they were booed by the crowd. They are irrelevant. It’s typical for right-wing groups to “solve” social conflicts by further squeezing marginalized and oppressed groups. This is done by all sorts of right-wing factions — it’s actually what the Tea Party is doing — but does not mean they are automatically fascist.
                The Boys will not and can not “co-opt” this movement. It is delusional and alarmist to even think so. So what’s the purpose of your short post? To push a tired “analogy” between Nazi “Lebensraum” policies and Israeli West Bank settlement expansion. That’s just deceptive and slimy.

                1. Thanks for the good news
                  I stand by my analogy (not “equation”) of Nazi “Lebensraum” policies and Israeli West Bank settlement expansion—especially as the argument for settlement is being framed by the Hilltop Youth in populist guise. Absolutely.