THE BLOG
11/21/2016 05:46 pm ET Updated Nov 22, 2017

Fascism Rising, Israel And America

DNY59 via Getty Images

Traveling from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem, one week after "What happened, if it happened," I find my reality becoming increasingly surreal due to distance. That's rather surprising to me, what with Facebook and digital newspapers and the like telescoping distance, but having not yet grieved it's been a bit of a relief. Visiting Israel and Palestine has been instructive as a moral tale of what's in store for what used to be America.

Israel has a fascist government today, ruled by a prime minister enmeshed in a cult of personality (he's fancied himself "king of the Jews"), driven by an extreme emphasis on security and a sense of humiliation ("everybody hates us, so let's make them hate us more!"), with an increasing attack on "treasonous leftists" while simultaneously demanding group hugs from them.

Yet through it all life goes on. The Israeli public is indifferent, and leftist politicians are silent. No one talks about peace. That over 200 retired military officers and all the retired intelligence service chiefs have called for an end to the Occupation is ignored. The public treats their rational elites with the same disdain as the rural and suburban white voters in the States, or the English in the UK.

It's agreed, by both Israelis and Palestinians, that it is not possible to get to a solution, even though a large majority would support an agreement similar to the ones that have already been negotiated, both officially and privately. American Jews either support the status quo or view Israel as a moral Jewish Disneyland, exhorting moral behavior to save the soul of the nation, a nation of many who no longer have a soul.

In the meantime, most tolerate the abuse inflicted on the occupied and, hence, upon themselves. People put their heads down, explain they're busy with their families, and even after venting, they simply get back to business. Palestinians and Jews, both.

Young Israelis are disgusted with politics because it never seems to work, and their economic situation is never considered. Palestinian youth, other than Gazans -- who make up the large majority of their population (only 4 percent of the population is over 60, so they clearly don't have a Medicare funding problem) -- just want to go to school and get on with their lives, caring little for political liberty or national aspirations. Just remove the checkpoints, please, because we're really tired of being hassled.

What scares me most is the rapid descent into normalcy. Germans, Poles and Ukrainians who were not part of the machinery of genocide went about their lives even while they themselves suffered under a brutal occupation. The French, Dutch, Romanians and Norwegians, among others, collaborated or averted their eyes as well.

Given that history, it's likely, even with the salutary statements from California and Massachusetts, that the same will happen in the 50 states, in spite of the fact that less than 25% voted for fascism. Any groups who are hoping for a mass uprising should not lose themselves in fantasy come the beginning of the Occupation next January.

The capitulation of the American Jewish leadership, once again, to the forces of darkness, presages a collapse of a 150 year history of Jewish communal involvement. The willingness to go along, in the hope of mitigating or averting the evil decree, is a fool's errand. That the minions of this kakistocracy are named Sessions and Bannon and Pence and not Himmler, Heydrich and Goebbels is just a matter of geography. When the Minister of Propaganda publicly welcomes the coming 500 years of darkness, it's prudent to be prepared. If there was ever a time for individual persons to adhere to the Precautionary Principle, it is now.

Mark Lilla, writing in The New York Times, blames what he calls "identity liberalism," or what I've referred to as the elevation of identity politics above all else in the progressive community. I agree that we must have a return to basics, to civics and history, which have been muted in our recent embrace of STEM subjects. An ability to code and hack, however, will do the children of liberals little good once liberal society is ended, except as a tool of the Resistance.

But blaming progressives for the rage of the white supremacists and nationalists is specious. A community (which includes some liberals, by the way) so enraged at a handful of little trans kids wanting to use the bathroom because they literally believe these children are sexual predators, or are the tip of the spear to destroy gender, but who will willingly and gleefully vote for an admitted sexual predator, is a terminally sick community.

The only silver lining I see is the succumbing to hubris that is typical of the Republican party. Now in control of the entire federal government for the first time since 1928 -- and we know how that turned out -- they and their kakistocrats will clearly overreact. Sadly, they will cause a great deal of pain before they're finished, not only to those who deserve it but to those who don't. Such is the way when a people embrace a con.