Can we find compassion for Israelis in 2013?

Totalitarianism of the right will be the hallmark of Israel in 2013.

Ziv Koren Polaris/Newscom

I have just spent the last few days of 2012 in the city of Haifa. Accidentally, I met a few of my acquaintances who in the past deemed me at best as deluded and at worst as a traitor. They seemed more embarrassed today — almost confessing that mine and my friends’ worst predictions about Israel’s future seemed to be materializing painfully in front of their very eyes.

In fact, our predictions came very late in the day. Already in 1950, with unsettling accuracy, Sir Thomas Rapp, the head of the British Middle East Office in Cairo, foresaw the future. He was the last person sent by London to decide whether or not Britain should establish diplomatic relations with Israel. He approved but warned his superiors in London:

“The younger generation is being brought up in an environment of militarism and thus a permanent threat to the Middle East tranquillity is thereby being created and Israel would thus tend to move away from the democratic way of life towards totalitarianisms of the right or the left” (Public Record Office, Foreign Office Files 371/82179, E1015/119, a letter to Ernest Bevin the Foreign Secretary, 15 December 1950).

It is the totalitarianism of the right which is going to be the hallmark of the Jewish state in 2013. And some of the liberal Zionists who were once willing to devour me and like-minded Jews in Israel now realize we, like Sir Thomas before us, may have been right. And maybe because of their more benign attitude I would like to reciprocate by attempting, for a very short while, a different approach in 2013.

Compassion towards Israelis?

Those of us who write frequently for the Electronic Intifada have shown in the past — and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future — our utmost solidarity with the Palestinian victims of Israel’s existence and policies. But can we, and should we, show compassion to the Israelis themselves? Obviously, one cannot ask the Palestinians to do this while the dispossession continues in full force. But maybe we who belong, ethnically at least, to the victimizers can ponder for a moment in the beginning of the New Year about our compatriots.

Let me begin with a more personal touch. During this visit I had the opportunity to watch my former colleague, the historian Benny Morris on television and to read some of his interviews. His anti-Arab and anti-Islamic racism is now of the rawest kind possible: a naked and rude discourse of hate, venomously spat out in the most disgusting way possible. So why show any empathy? Because his first book on the refugees was an eye-opener for me and others. It was not a great history book, but it was an eloquent survey of the truth to be found in the state archives about the 1948 Israeli crimes.

Yet his transmutation into an arch-racist is not surprising — it follows the same trajectory of many of the so-called liberal Zionists in Israel. He and his friends had an epiphany in the 1990s: discovering the immoral foundations of the state. This could have opened the way to a genuine reconciliation but it was also a frightening moment that demanded brave personal decisions. Most of them opted instead to deny the truth and the guilt, covering it up with a born-again Zionism of a far more extreme and obnoxious kind. This particular group of Zionists are not likely to go through another epiphany, but maybe their children will. One can only hope.

Israel’s Arab Jews

Compassion of a kind can be shown also toward the Arab Jews of Israel. I noticed during this visit how many of them are wearing — almost crouching under the yoke of — huge Star of David medallions of a size I have never seen before. They are frightened that the police or members of the public might mistake them for “Arabs,” hence these huge pendants that cry out: I am a Jew, not an Arab, even if I look like one! (As if any of us living between the River Jordan and the sea look that different from one another.)

This is sad and pathetic but maybe the academic Ella Habiba Shohat was right when she asked us to recognize Arab Jews as victims of Zionism as much as the Palestinians were. It is hard however, with the risk of generalization of course, to buy into their victimization for too long as they have by now endorsed wholeheartedly the formula that the more racist their anti-Arabism would be, the more Israeli they would become.

Back in the 1970s, Arab Jews rebelled against their discrimination. The right-wing parties in Israel capitalized on this frustration to build an electoral base that brought the Likud party to power and associated Arab Jewish politics of identity with anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian positions. But if there is any future for the Jews in Palestine, it will have to go through the organic and intrinsic connection of these Jews to the region, its past, its civilization and future. There are still enough among them who may show the way for the European settlers to learn to reconcile with whatever season the Arab world would happen to be in.

My third message of compassion is for the ultra-Orthodox Jews. The idea of a state in Judaism is a travesty – they know it best. There is no foundation in Judaism for a state based on the religion. So they opted either for clear anti-Zionism, for which they are persecuted, or embarrassingly spearheading Zionism by colonizing the West Bank and leading the racist choirs in the state. For a moment one should empathize with their predicament — they are a sizable part of the Jewish population and could be part of a new and better Palestine and the Middle East.

Cultural ghettoes

My fourth flickering moment of compassion is directed towards the Russian Jews (many of whom I see praying piously in the Orthodox churches all over Haifa and the north). They are a first generation of settlers in a colonialist project that still goes on. They are aliens in this country — as were the early Zionists — and they are lost. So they either create cultural ghettoes, or like the Arab Jews they try to integrate by offering to be the signifiers of the most fascist and racist pole of the Israeli political scene. Either way, this must be very unpleasant and unfulfilling.

My final sense of empathy is directed to the Jewish students in the West who still insist on acting as Israel’s ambassadors on university campuses. Here too, the pathetic human condition triggers the compassion. They could have played a vanguard and leading role — as their predecessors did when they spearheaded the struggles for equality in the United States and the movements against apartheid in South Africa and imperialism in Vietnam — in one of humanity’s greatest campaigns for peace and justice: the solidarity movement with the Palestinians. But they find themselves confused and disoriented, representing the oppressor, the colonizer and the occupier. The end result is parroting slogans prepared by the Israeli diplomacy that make little sense I suspect even to those who chant it unconvincingly along with hysterical allegations of anti-Semitism and terrorism.

I thought of adding the aging Zionist veterans of 1948 who opened their secrets to filmmaker Eyal Sivan and myself (their testimonies were exhibited on a special display we put on in the heart of Tel Aviv at the end of 2012) and told us bravely about the crimes they committed against the Palestinians during the Nakba. But that would have been too much.

Maybe when peace is nearer I could follow the in the footsteps of Desmond Tutu and show compassion of the kind displayed in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee. But until this time comes I will try to keep an open door for the others in the settler colonialist society I belong to and with which the Palestinians hopefully will one day build a democratic and free Palestine.

The author of numerous books, Ilan Pappe is professor of history and director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter.




1) "totalitarianism" is a propaganda word without any real meaning but "what so-called democracy wants to call names"
2) in 1950 Israel was a settler colony on Palestine land, the same as now, and UK was the biggest colonial power of the world - not so much now, no thanks for UK love for democracy. In short, this scoundrel was not stupid, but to cite him as a good source is misleading. It is a typical ex. of pot calling another pot black.
3) I know NO example of colonist settlers in mass rejecting their status as masters of others' lands. So, a small number of Jews in Israel could face the truth, but sure no more than the small number.
4) "Russian Jews" (former USSR Jews) turning into colonizers is a direct result of the end of the USSR, which was a happy event to the absolute majority of the Western left. So, they share a bit of guilt for the even more dispossession of Palestinians.


1) Professor Pappe was quoting a 1950 document during a time when Totalitarianism was still a viable concept. It may be considered a propaganda word in 2013 by some scholars, but then it was real and the word would have been mutually understood by both the author and recipient as to exactly what was meant.
2) Since Britain facilitated the creation of Israel and had recently fought a war to promote the ideals and values of an open democratic society this comment is as offensive as it is inaccurate. Britain attempted to create reasonably fair and democratic structures in Palestine from 1918 onwards but was thwarted by both sides pursuing their own agendas.


such long before 2013, of course, not by people who benefited from it

UK was and still is an imperialist state, built on the bones of countless non-whites.
But I understand that one liking the imperialist propaganda would not see it as well.

And equating Zionist colonialism and Palestinian independent struggle as "both sides pursuing their own agendas" is a pure (durty) apology for colonialism, no wonder, though from the defender of UK colonialism as "reasonably fair and democratic"


With the Arab Jews. I am a palestinian from brooklyn ny. I have come across several Arab Jews and they all have shown a nastalogic curiosity towards Arab culture. I can tell they don't hate Palestinians, but I can feel that sadly they are trapped in by Zionism. It really is sad. They have been barred from exploring their past and Arab culture.


'Obviously, one cannot ask the Palestinians to do this while the dispossession continues in full force'......

But the sad thing is, many friends in Gaza do show compassion by the way. They are very interested in problems in the Israeli army and Israeli soldiers, and news about Israeli refusenicks constantly comes up in Arabic on my facebook. In the name of a one state solution, many palestinians do want to talk to Israelis and find compassion.

In contrast, I have met very liberal, but non politically active Israelis in my university in the UK, and they don't want to talk about the conflict, much less to Palestinians, as it appears to make them uncomfortable.

Compassion can always be had towards Israelis who are at odds with their government, but the vast majority, including arab jews and and even some israeli arabs, seem more reluctant than ever to let themselves feel too much compassion for palestinians.


It is normal that the oppressor demonizes the oppressed. It makes it easier to justify the unjustifiable. The oppressed can afford to show empathy for the oppressor since he / she does not need to hide inhumane behavior. It was easy to kill the natives as long as they were just savages. It is harder to kill them when they are humans.


The UK is a place where because of anti-zionism Israel and Judaism are frequently attacked. I think the overwhelming majority of Jews would like moral options and don't believe they exist. But most likely they have a complex nuanced opinion on the issue and see issues on both sides. They see this issue as more morally complex and not as simplistic as most of the anti activists.

They probably aren't politically active because:

a) It is not appropriate to be politically active while a guest in a foreign country.
b) Foreign human rights issues are oversimplified abroad into things that are blatantly inaccurate. I would imagine that Israelis in the UK if they express their opinions honestly they get attacked as racists or bigots or... So they keep quiet, bottle up their anger, go back home and vote for the right.

For example I disagreed strongly with George W Bush's foreign policy. But when I was abroad and the topic came up I frequently ran into people whose opinions seemed outright unhinged. Moreover they factually tended to make a lot of mistakes, talking about things Bush was doing that were acts of Congress. You have to wonder how much you can talk about the "why" of policy to people that don't understand America does not have a parliamentary system.

I would imagine the Israelis in the UK face the same situation.


Palestine is not an experiment, nor is it a laboratory for experiments. Zionism made it so with the collusion of big powers. There can be no compassion for Israelis or Zionists who claim the Judaic mantle to pursue their colonial aims or experiments in the land of others - historic Palestine.

Compassion is a two-tiered human phenomenon: feeling sorrow or pity for the suffering of others coupled with an attempt at alleviating that suffering. Can we truly feel compassion for those Israelis, whether American Israelis, European Israelis or even Arab Israelis who condone a system of colonial Apartheid - a system which is at the core of next month's election laboratory?

We should not be surprised at next month's extreme results nor at the slow demise of that experiment.


Why would anyone expect a jewish victim of Nazi Germany to sympathize with his oppressor?


If you look at most studies of the people of Germany under the Nazis, including some of the most famous and influential books they were authored by Jews. Jews were in fact very interested in trying to sympathize with the people of Nazi Germany so as to understand what led them to support Nazism.

Hannah Arendt being a great example of this. Banality of Evil is frequently told from Adolf Eichmann's point of view.


As a

As a Black person who grew up in the u.s. and therefore can relate to the plight of the Palestinian people, i don't see any reason why the victims of israeli brutality should feel anything but hate for their oppressor. Would anybody excpect a jewish victim of Nazi Germany to feel sympathy for Germans?



Andrew Szczepa:

“Since Britain facilitated the creation of Israel . . . attempted to create reasonably fair & democratic structures in Palestine from 1918 onwards . . .”

Lord Balfour wrote in a private memorum sent to Lord Curzon, his successor at the Foreign Office (Curzon initially opposed Zionism) on 11 August 1919:
'For in Palestine we do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants . The four great powers are committed to Zionism & Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires & prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.'

In the 1924–1925 the British had already formalized the principle of collective punishment in Palestine Collective Responsibility & Punishment Ordinances, updated in 1936 with the Collective Fines Ordinance. Fines totalled £1,000,000, unsupportable for Palestinians as the army confiscated livestock, imposed curfews & established police posts, demolished houses & detained the Arab men in detention camps.

Following the Arab capture of the Old City of Jerusalem in October 1938, the army took over Palestine.

The Brits armed & trained the Jews. It took 1/3 of the British forces to quell the uprising. The Palestinians devastated & disarmed, the British subsequently hunting down & killing those with leadership skills.

By 1946 - 47 the Brits quit, being attacked by both the Palestinians & the Jew/Zionist terrorists.

The United Nations Partition Plan, described as a Plan of Partition with Economic Union which would lead to the creation of independent Arab & Jewish States & the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem. On 29/11/ 1947, the General Assembly recommended its adoption.

1948 The proposed split was 45/55. 55% to the Jews who owned approximately 6 % of the land & totalled 35 % of the population.


Andrew, after the initial period you described the show continued:
During the 1967 War, one of the most daring acts of treachery was committed. It was the attack on an American ship, the USS Liberty, by America's so-called friend, Israel.
During Israel's attack on Egypt, the USS Liberty, an American surveillance ship, was cruising off the coast of Israel monitoring the progress of the attack.
Realizing the USS Liberty was learning and recording Israel's acts of treachery, Israeli leaders decided to 'get rid' of the evidence. Israeli planes and torpedo boats attacked the USS-Liberty with the obvious intent of sinking it. If the ship was sunk, thus destroying the evidence, Israel then could blame Egypt for the attack — and the Zionist controlled news-media in America would have given the lie as fact with the intent of turning the American people against Egypt. But, fortunately — bravery on the part of the Liberty crew kept the ship afloat. Israel failed in its act of treachery against America, its ally, but during the attack, Israel killed 34 crew members of the Liberty and wounded 171.
Israel claimed the attack on the Liberty was a case of mistaken identity. But, reports by the surviving crew and other evidence prove the attack by Israel was intentional.
Facts about the attack on the USS Liberty were conveniently omitted by the Zionist controlled American news-media. All that the Zionists told the American people was that Israel had accidentally fired on an American ship, because it was a case of mistaken identity.
An investigation by the U.S. Government was subdued and the matter quickly forgotten.
The coverup of the whole scandalous affair by the U.S. Government could not have succeeded if the news-media had done its duty and reported the facts surrounding the attack.
This entire affair is a good example of the power of Zionism over American government and news-media.
The war of 1967 was a war for conquest. You still see that in the settlements.


Why show compassion to the unwanted foreign citizens of a fake state imposed by UN decree upon the original Palestinians in 1948? The Zionists' MO was that 'Israel' was empty land until they arrived (aka 'terra nullius'), something already tried by the white supremacists with their settler society in Zio-Australia. But, in the end, they do have the choice to migrate to the USA, their new 'promised land' (also a white supremacist genocidal land-grab) + over a million already have, either disgusted or disappointed with their stupid Israeli politics...


When I was a child - all I wanted was to be ME. Only, when I was old enough to understand intelectually what that meant - I was allready so brainwashed and conditioned by parents and society that I had forgotten what the real ME was.
At the age of 73 I am beginning to understand. I am beginning to remember - and remembering what I was - and what was done to me - I feel so much compassion for all the people who have been " domesticated" by the same inhuman process which is the hallmark of our so-called "civilization". I am grateful that I didn't have Nazi parents, I am grateful that I wasn't brought up to believe that " niggers" - have no soul. Or that studying will " fry" womens' brains, as a Nowegian profeesor claimed. I am happy that I KNOW now that we all want to be happy - and not suffer too much. I am happy that I REALLY understand why Dalai Lama can have compassion for the Chinese even if they torture his people. Forgive them for they do not KNOW. True knowledge comes from the Heart. Not the brain or intellect which leads us astray. And when you discover - when you KNOW that we are forever entangled , ONE - BEING ... then you can begin - maybe - to be of use.
You cannot change the world - but by changing yourself you contribute to the positive change in our world.
May you be happy.
May you be well.
May you live the Wisdom of the Heart.


Actually, I think this is a rather good word to describe the state Israel is increasingly slipping into, including and maybe especially the element of "insane asylum" that is always present in totalitarian societies, and now very visible in Israel


There are racist and colonialist societies. USA during slavery and Jim Crow and even now is an example. USA racists are the same as Zionists, and often are Zionists as well.

One more time, "totalitarian" is a word without real meanings. Imperialists after WWII wanted to show that they are not the same as Nazis (before that they often praised Nazis and helped them), and to denigrate "communist" states. So, they invented "totalitarian" non-sense, while Nazis were just the pupils of UK imperialism and colonialism.


The word totalitarianism was used earlier than the period you indicate, as it happens also by Italian fascists, as a positive goal. It's applied both to Nazis and Stalinists and others, but not usually, for instance, to USA during slavery. Isn't Pappe making this very point? That Israel is moving from a racist/colonialist system to a system with an additional "totalitarian" layer of total political control over all aspects of public and personal life (and a good deal of outright lunacy). If I was an Israeli, any Israeli, I would indeed worry about that. And if we believe Pappe more Israelis are indeed worrying about it.
Call it what you want, but refusing to call it totalitarianism is not going to make it go away.


Exactly. This words WAS and is a propaganda tool.So, USA with its racist laws AFTER "end" of slavery, not different from Hitler's ones, but very different from USSR, and till the middle of 1960th (!) was NOT called "totalitarian".

Prof. Pappe could mean well, but, as a matter of fact, in Israel itself the laws and the public (Jewish) opinion was not better in 1950th then now. The ONLY difference, then it was showed in "left-liberal" drag, and now it is more openly religious-rightist. But it is the same actually. In 1950th Palestinians in Israel by law were under military rule, for ex. Now they "have rights", on paper, of course. But for UK colonialist scoundrel it was NOT enough to call it "totalitarian", I guess.

And please, what the meaning of your pet "lunacy" label? It does not explain anything. Is USA or UK free of it? USA and UK spying on their own population could be even more total then in Israel.

Israel was and is colonialist and racist. It is the problem. the degrees of every kind of racism could change and be less palatable for Western and Zionist "liberals". But it is not a question of propaganda words.


You can have totalitarianism without racism and racism without totalitarianism (The film Das Leben der Anderen is a good example of the first). Racism/Colonialism and Totalitarianism are distinct, but can coincide.

About lunacy: The political leaders of Israel are increasingly sounding and behaving like Pol Pot, Staline or Hitler.

And to JeffB: I don't see any contradiction between totalitarianism and capitalism. Capitalism does not guarantee any freedoms or rights whatsoever.


Capitalism is a system based on private ownership and control of capital. In particular you don't have government control of the means of production, investment nor consumer spending. By definition that's not totalitarian.


Don't you think political control can be exercised by capital just as well as by government? Maybe even better. I recommend the film The Corporation.


I think big business can corrupt government, propagandize people and exercise considerable control. But no I don't think they can rise close to the level of totalitarianism. At the end of the day, totalitarianism requires extensive state violence, not just money.


Ever heard of Pinochet's Chile? Pioneer of neoliberalism: privatising, deregulating and withdrawing the state from any welfare role. If Pinochet's Chile was not totalitarian, the word has no meaning.


Yes I've heard of Pinochet. He banned alternative political parties more or less outright and used quite a bit of terror against them. Virtually all state terror in the Pinochet regime was directed at political opponents, because Pinochet never controlled the levers of society. Pinochet was even personally corrupt. In a totalitarian regime that sort of thing wouldn't be necessary, most all resources are state resources.

The word "totalitarian" has meaning, but its meaning goes beyond "government I don't like". So no, he is not remotely a counter example.


'About lunacy: The political leaders of Israel are increasingly sounding and behaving like Pol Pot, Stalin or Hitler.'

And George Bush jnr, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Libby to name a few, and Tony Blair: 'I didn't look at the evidence, I just believed it was the right thing to do', on invading Iraq.


Yes the list is long. But there are degrees, maybe based on how much they succeed in stamping their own particular madness on every level of society.
Also, Israel's particular brand of lunacy is not just about its leaders. It's also these crackpot stories that the administration/the system increasingly has to tell itself in order to carry on with its Zionist mission, like the convoluted legal constructions to defraud Palestinians of their property, or the national recreational/park system (in fact former Palestinian villages, now with invented Jewish histories glued onto them). I mean, do the people who come up with these things actually start believing them? Or do they live with two truths next to each other, in a permanent state of schizophrenia. I can't help wonder what happens in their heads. Or in the heads of people who subconsciously know that this is the way things are or have come about, but manage to block it out on the conscious level. Pappe gives examples of this systemic lunacy in his books. It's straight out of Kafka or Orwell.
And I do think it's more developed in Israel at the moment (although yes there are indeed signs of it in many countries and no country is ever immune to the possibility)


It is a universal truth that when a tyrannical power attacks another group of people (country, race, religion, whatever), that group of people has a God given right to defend itself. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence,..

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

So as Professor Pappe says in the last two paragraphs, he is striving for the ability to feel compassion for the Israeli's. And many Palestinians are doing this as well because it is coming from an emotion of love rather than one of hate/fear (which they are entitled to given the circumstances). These two emotions are the extremes we are given to struggle with. Which will I choose to exude? It's usually somewhere in the middle. No one is perfect but a lot of people are seeking love rather than hate (fear).


knew a bit about "all men... created equal"

By the way, the Zionist hero Jabotinski was citing example of USA colonizers as "good" ones: "But those “great explorers,” the English, Scots and Dutch who were the first real pioneers of North America were people possessed of a very high ethical standard; people who not only wished to leave the redskins at peace but could also pity a fly; people who in all sincerity and innocence believed that in those virgin forests and vast plains ample space was available for both the white and red man. But the native resisted both barbarian and civilized settler with the same degree of cruelty."(Iron Wall)

Of course, he lied, as all Zionists do, but it is still enlightening to read such prizes for Zionists.


Totalitarianism is a state that seeks to control all aspects of the society: economy, education, art, science, private life and morals. It exists, and it does not apply to Israel, they are becoming more capitalist the state is growing weaker in many respects.


I actually value the pieces of news conveyed through this article but am at a loss as to its purpose of it, and at this time especially, and on EI especially. Coincidentally, just earlier today, I ate at a place that was owned by Israeli's in Montreal who were hiding the fact that they are Israeli, didn't want anyone to know. So Israeli's are very much feeling it outside of Israel as well. The reason the article is so dissonant is that the reaction within Israel to the last Gaza raids and killings showed unequivocally that the hate is predominantly on the Israeli side, not the Palestinian side. If that is the case I'm confused as to what audience is Ilan writing to here? The vast majority of Palestinians that I know are primarily concerned about what's happening in Syria at the moment and empire intentions/factionism there. As far as Israel is concerned they (meaning the politically active among them) want to escalate whatever pressure is necessary to dismantle the occupation. There is general agreement that Benny Morris and the current leadership are (or have become) disgusting human beings, but that is not hate, that is a sober reality. I don't know that many people simmering with hate for Netanyahu or Morris. I don't know very many people wasting their energy on identities that are bound for the dust bin of history.


"Coincidentally, just earlier today, I ate at a place that was owned by Israeli's in Montreal who were hiding the fact that they are Israeli, didn't want anyone to know. So Israeli's are very much feeling it outside of Israel as well."

How exactly did you come to the conclusion they were hiding they are Israeli? Instead of writing about them on this website, it would have been nicer if you reached out for dialogue instead of perpetuating the hatred that this website motivates.


Hannah Arendt is considered the lead author on this subject, though she was not the first to write on the subject. The Wikipedia section on her book "The Origins of Totalitarianism" states 'The book's final section is devoted to describing the mechanics of totalitarian movements, focusing on Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Here, Arendt discusses the transformation of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the non-totalitarian world, and the use of terror, essential to this form of government. Totalitarian movements are fundamentally different from autocratic regimes, says Arendt, insofar as autocratic regimes seek only to gain absolute political power and to outlaw opposition, while totalitarian regimes seek to dominate every aspect of everyone's life as a prelude to world domination. Arendt discusses the use of front organizations, fake governmental agencies, and esoteric doctrines as a means of concealing the radical nature of totalitarian aims from the non-totalitarian world. A final section added to the second edition of the book 1958 suggests that individual isolation and loneliness are preconditions for totalitarian domination.'
If you view the situation in occupied Palestine from the above perspective, it must surely be the case that they view the occupation regime as being totalitarian in nature? If it can happen there, then why should it not happen in Israel itself? This is the point that Pappe is driving at: that in the drive for total control, the right-wing Zionist clique who control Israeli society could end up abandoning any idea of democracy and replacing it with a unique form of Zionist totalitarianism in Israel. Pappe - and most other rational people - express their sorrow for the fate the people of Israel are sleep-walking themselves into.


The occupation doesn't seek to control most aspects of Palestinian life. In fact it seeks to control almost none. Israel is mostly interested in warehousing the Palestinians in occupation and preventing them from doing violence to Israel or settlers. Above and beyond that I'd characterize the Israeli government as indifferent.

A totalitarian government is deeply concerned to use instruments of state control to maintain popular support. The Israeli government has essentially 0 popular support among the Palestinians and doesn't care.

So no totalitarianism is not going on in the territories.


Jeff: the Nazis never received popular electoral support; they gained power initially by entering into a coalition government with other right-wing parties. Once in power, they passed laws and undertook actions which reinforced their control over government, outlawing all other political parties as part of the process. After that, they no longer needed popular support or they manufactured it through the application of propaganda techniques. I recommend you sign up to the daily e-newsletter at to see just how much daily control the Israel Army occupation forces exert over Palestinian residents - it cannot be described remotely as 'indifferent'. I perceive it as the objective application of fear and control. These are the classical ingredients of a totalitarian regime such as modern day Israel.


I have the advantage and the disadvantage of distance being an American of Jewish dissent. I have studied the conflict closely now for over a dozen years, (a mere drop in the bucket of time), but have managed to read thousands of articles and absorb more than fifty books and make four journeys to Israel/Palestine including two under the auspices of the Compassionate Listening Project. I have found people who are working to promote understanding, peace and two states on all sides of this war of attrition and people on all sides so filled with anger, fear and hatred that it may be their children as you say who find a way forward. But the work must continue and must be positive to open the hearts and minds of one Israeli, one Palestinian, one American, one European and one individual from many other backgrounds at a time to begin to overcome the tragedy of occupation and the belligerence that has grown in the wake of the Second Intifada, the seizure of Gaza by Hamas and the military actions of Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah and others.This effort by millions of individuals will reopen the door to two states living as neighbors with freedom, security and peace.