Friday, February 2, 2024

"The Great Replacement," Gaza Style - Substack


"The Great Replacement," Gaza Style

Blowing up coexistence through ethnic cleansing is precisely where the Jewish supremacist Gaza plan and the white supremacist “Great Replacement" conspiracy theory intersect.

T-shirts proclaiming that Gaza is the Land of Israel, in the same orange color that characterized the movement to stop the withdrawal in 2005. Ashdod, November 22, 2023. (Mati Wagner/Times of Israel)

At least someone in the Israeli government is doing some serious thinking about "the day after" the fighting in Gaza ends. Unfortunately, it's the right wing Jewish radicals, with their own version of Christian nationalists’ popular, virulent and false "Great Replacement Theory" tailored to promote Israel’s resettlement of the old Gaza settlement bloc known as Gush Katif - and move Gaza’s Palestinian population to Somewhere Else.

This past week, a group of right wing Jewish radicals got together in Jerusalem to discuss things like ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and resettling Jews into the godforsaken strip of land that no one has wanted to control since Napoleon.  This is part of the far right's master plan, which also includes the "encouragement" of Palestinian “voluntary migration” from the West Bank.

The “Great Replacement” in Gaza is a little different from the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory espoused by white supremacists here. Here the white supremacists, facing daunting demographics and fueled by racism, are trying to prevent an ethnic replacement of one group (if you can call “whites” a monolithic group) by another (anyone who has a darker pigmentation) by conjuring up false conspiracies (usually involving globalist Jews); while Israeli right wing radicals, facing daunting demographics and fueled by racism, are trying to orchestrate a great replacement in Gaza and mass emigration from the West Bank through a combination of coercion and brute force. How many Palestinians should leave Gaza? According to Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich, around 90 percent would suffice. "If there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not two million, the whole discourse about the day after will be different," he said.

But in the end, whether the supremacists are white and Christian or Israeli and Jewish, it comes down to the same hate-filled desire for ethnic purity.

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If this sounds shocking, giving all the pain this antisemitic - and did I say false? - “Great Replacement” theory has caused Jews in America, punctuated by acts of domestic terror and murder (including the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and Buffalo supermarket massacres), then that explains why we should be shocked that the Prime Minister of Israel hasn't shut down all talk of Gaza resettling and "encouraging" emigration. This at a time when Israel faces false accusations of genocide in the Hague.

Thank God we have President Biden to stand up for Jewish values and fight ethnic cleansing.

The Israeli version parallels its American cousin in its dual focus on geopolitical demographics and divine right. I’ll leave the demographics and geopolitics to the experts. It’s the “divine right” part is the part that I am most qualified to address. Not that I have any idea what God wants, but at least I have some expertise on what sacred literature THINKS God wants. And based on that my understanding of the texts, God does not want the forced ethnic cleansing of any ethnic group from anywhere, and certainly not from Gaza.

It’s important to note that Gaza is not part of the Holy Land. It is primarily considered as being OUTSIDE of the land promised to the ancient Israelites. Even if it may have been tossed around in conversations about terrrory, it was rarely if ever settled by Jews and basically never considered holy. How do I know about the holiness part? Well, when the rabbis discussed where crops could be cultivated during Sabbatical years when the sacred precincts were supposed to lie fallow, in other words, what places would be considered outside the boundaries of the Land of Israel, Gaza was allowed to be cultivated. Gaza was considered as much a part of the Land of Israel as Giza - or Paramus, New Jersey, for that matter. I love Paramus, but it ‘aint holy.

Some have countered that it was permitted to grow produce in the Gaza Strip because even though it is every bit as “holy” as the rest of the Land of Israel, it was not an area settled during the Second Temple period, when Jews returned from exile in Babylon.

I find that reasoning to be circular. If Jews didn't choose to live there during the Second Temple period, the last time Jews had sovereignty over the region until 1967, how could it be considered so holy? If the most famous Jewish residents of the strip were Samson, a controversial impulse-driven oaf whose greatest contribution to the history of Jewish Gaza was to kill a bunch of Philistines while he was dying, and Nathan of Gaza, the sidekick of Sabbetai Tzvi, a 17th century false messiah who nearly destroyed Judaism, this is hardly an all-star lineup. One might say that messianic craziness and Gaza go hand in hand, from Nathan to Hamas. The great Jewish heroes of the region have always lived on the outskirts of Gaza, in places like Yad Mordechai and Nitzanim in 1948, and now all those heroics towns and kibbutzim of the Gaza Envelope attacked on Oct. 7.

Here’s a link to the 18 biblical verses mentioning Gaza. That’s all there are. By comparison, Jerusalem appears 669 times in the Tanakh, and Zion, a term used interchangeably with Jerusalem, 154 more. When Gaza does appear, it is often depicted as a cursed land. Judge for yourself whether you would be rushing back in to settle that land like Ben Gvir and his cronies, unless your eyes were glazed over by a toxic concoction of Manifest Destiny and spite.

So even if you believe that the West Bank cannot be relinquished because it is part of the ancient Land of Israel (though I personally believe that it can be under certain conditions, because human lives and peace are holier than land) - even if you feel that Hebron and Shechem are sacrosanct - when it comes to Gaza, the history is completely different. It is not part of the traditional land of Israel and it can't be gerrymandered in.

Ariel Sharon's controversial disengagement of Gaza in 2005 still rankles the rightists and this festering grievance is fueling the resettlement movement. Sharon's move was a security mistake in retrospect, because Hamas took over shortly after and we see what happened, but it was justifiable at the time. Gaza was an unnecessary burden and never a central part of the plan among those, like Sharon, aiming for a "Greater Israel." IDF soldiers were put at risk to guard a tiny minority of settlers living among 1.3 million Palestinians at the time. And Sharon's gambit could have worked out differently if the Prime Minister for the better part of the two decades after his sudden demise - Netanyahu - didn't give Hamas virtual free rein to freely rain missiles on Israel.

Resettling Gaza makes no sense, unless your goal is to destroy all chances for coexistence and quiet. And blowing up coexistence through ethnic cleansing is precisely where the Gaza plan and the white supremacist “Great Replacement Theory” come together.

I seek unity with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others who reject all forms of ethnic cleansing, particularly when it done, perversely, in God’s name.

At precisely the time when so many who support and love Israel are straining to explain that Jews are not the ogres depicted by antisemites across the ideological spectrum, a segment of the Israeli government is undercutting those arguments and setting out to prove the antisemites right. In the name of Jewish unity, are the rest of us are supposed to ignore these antics of Smotrich and Ben Gvir?

The only replacement we should be supporting is the replacement of them, from the government.

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