Watch: As Israel Slides Toward Fascism, Citizens and Supporters Swear Their Loyalty
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And here is the oath of loyalty to the Jewish state that our interview subjects read on camera:
I swear by Hashem [the Jewish God] that I want to offer unconditional loyalty to the Jewish state of Israel, to its leaders and the commanders of its Jewish army. I am prepared as a loyal supporter of the Jewish state to risk my life for this oath at any time.
Were we suggesting that the Jewish state of Israel represented a new incarnation of Hitler's Third Reich? Of course not. We repudiate sweeping comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany as shallow and ahistorical. Instead, we imagined our video project as a version of the "Third Wave" experiment undertaken by history teacher Ron Jones at Cubberly High School in Southern California in 1967.
Seeking to demonstrate the susceptibility of average citizens to fascism, Jones ordered his students to accept a regimen of strict discipline and community including sig heil salutes, responding to questions while standing and in three words or less, and carrying membership cards at all times. "Strength through discipline," was the motto of the movement Jones claimed to be promoting. By the fourth day of the experiment, the students' enthusiasm for the project had spread to other classes throughout the school. Finally, Jones ordered his students to attend a rally where a presidential candidate from their Third Wave movement would announce his candidacy. When the students arrived, Jones revealed to them that they had been subjects in an experiment about the appeal of fascism, and that they had eagerly replicated the structure of Nazi German society.
Our own experiment exposed an equally disturbing trend among the young Israelis and Jewish supporters of Israel we spoke to. In some cases, our interview subjects eagerly requested to read the loyalty oath on camera without any prompting, and added their own personal touch to it -- usually they emphasized phrases like "Jewish state" and "Jewish army." These subjects were generally new immigrants who had left their families behind in order to join the army and start a brand new life in Israel. Jewish internationals (most were studying at Jerusalem-area yeshivas for the year) who took the oath defended it on the basis that Israel was a state for the Jews, and therefore did not have to comply with the regulations of normal Western democracies.
Only two interviewees refused to take the oath. Though they based their refusal on the possibility that Israel might commit grave human rights crimes in the distant future, they were admittedly unable to define the nature of the abuses that would turn them against the state.
If our interviews demonstrated anything, it is that anyone in any country can fall prey to the psychological lures of fascism. Jews are no exception.
Editor's Note: The author of the loyalty bill was misidentified in the video as Alex Miller. David Rotem is the author.