Photo Credit: Flash90
Israeli reservist and activists protest in Bnei Brak, March 16, 2023.

On Wednesday night, President Itzhak Herzog warned a baffled nation: “Whoever thinks that a real civil war is a boundary we will not reach – has no idea.” On Thursday morning, Israel’s small army of anarchists went about their next campaign in this civil war.

By the way, right-wing attorney Aviad Visoli and businessman Atniel Ben Amra have been doing the math, computing how many demonstrators fit in the area of each rally––which is made easier by the fact that so many of them carry flags––and concluded that at most, the Tel Aviv protests had 45 thousand each, while in Haifa and Jerusalem the numbers were closer to 5,000, police and organizers’ numbers notwithstanding.


“Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” was written and published in 2017 by historian Mark Bray, who reportedly is also a Communist and, of course, Jewish. When we’re done going over Thursday’s festivities, I’ll explain Bray’s playbook, which is being used with great skill these days by Israeli anarchists. There are several similar works about Antifa’s methods and practices out there which are clearly being borrowed and used expertly by the anarchist organizers of the past ten weeks of madness.

And so, with relatively limited numbers but with a revolutionary zeal that would make Vladimir Illich Lenin crack an appreciative smile in the mausoleum, on Thursday morning Israeli anarchists reignited the civil war.

The war began overnight Thursday when police arrested five cosplay anarchists who painted Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem red. They masqueraded as city workers dressed in white overalls and wore gas masks. Nice touch.

The war continued early Thursday when Navy veterans blocked the entrance to the port of Haifa using five yachts and a motor boat with signs that read: “Navy men do not sail into a dictatorship.” They shut down their motors claiming they experienced engine trouble. According to the protesters, they blocked ships from entering the port. Maybe. The yachts kind of marked their economic affiliation. A little like Porsche owners against inequality.

The next disruption took place after 7 AM, on Jerusalem Street in Bnei Brak, near city hall, when some 200 demonstrators affiliated with the “reservists’ protest” tried to set up a mock recruiting office. Hundreds of police officers pushed them back.

At 7:30 AM, 20 protesters took down the national flag outside city hall in Beer Sheva.

At 9 AM there will be a rally of democratic religious Zionists outside the Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv. It should be interesting to find out how many knitted yarmulkas have gone to the dark side – especially considering the fact that Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked couldn’t get near the vote threshold last November. I’m guessing 25.

At 10 AM there will be demonstrations in front of the embassies of Great Britain, France, and Germany, as well as the US consulate, all in Tel Aviv.

At 11 AM: the high-tech protest and performance, the culture protest, a torch parade (in the morning?), a demonstration at the Namir junction, and a march from Bima Square to Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv. Police have already blocked everything in that part of the city. If you need to take care of business try the government offices in Ramallah.

At noon, the hi-tech protesters will rally outside the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot. I’m guessing 30, including the Wolt messengers with the sandwich deliveries.

At 2 PM: the white robe protest of medical professionals in Tel Aviv.

And at 7 PM the big event at Habima Square, to be followed by an attempt to storm Ayalon Highway. Expect much action, maximizing the dwindling numbers of real human beings that will show up. Also, expect Ha’aretz et al to use six figures in counting the same people.

The Antifa Playbook
According to a report on CBC, “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook” examines the emergence of the anti-fascist movement in 1920s and 1930s Germany, and offers an analysis of contemporary anti-fascist movements, particularly Antifa in the US and Europe.

Bray teaches that militant “anti-fascism” is a reasonable and legitimate political tradition, which he describes as “an unabashedly partisan call to arms that aims to equip a new generation of anti-fascists with the history and theory necessary to defeat the resurgent far-right.”

Equipped with an estimated $30 million, care of a rather limited crowdfunding effort (NIS 2 million), donations from generous billionaires, and reported gifts from the New Israel Fund and the US Education Fund that directly supports the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which is among the main driving forces of the protests, the Israeli anarchists are borrowing directly and with great force from the Antifa playbook:

A chapter titled “Five Historical Lessons for Anti-Fascists” discusses de-platforming and freedom of speech. Based on interviews Bray conducted with Antifa activists––61 interviews in 17 countries––he defines anti-fascism as “illiberal politics of social revolutionism applied to fighting the Far Right, not only literal fascists.”

In “Understanding 21st Century Militant Anti-Fascism,” Nigel Copsey and Samuel Merrill also point out that “militant anti-fascists do not see ‘fascism’ everywhere and generally retain their focus on the political space which is commonly understood by the mainstream society as ‘far-right.’” If you pay attention to the rhetoric of Israel anarchists, you will constantly hear their conflating Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, including coalition partners Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism with both the illusive “fascism,” which is a throwback to the early 20th Century and the concrete “far right” countries Poland and Hungary. This thought process is borrowed from Antifa’s conceptual world.

Copsey and Merril point out that Antifa militants are committed to the principles of “no platform,” which means that they dub groups or individuals as “fascist” or “fascistic,” and demand that they be prevented from contributing to the public debate “by whatever means necessary.” If you’ve heard left-wing politicians such as Yair Lapid and Merav Michaeli insisting that elected officials like Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir must be fired – this is where they learned how to do it.

Antifa also believes in “direct action,” meaning you don’t complain to the authorities about any inequity, but instead use your power to attack your enemies directly in small and large groups. Over the past four years, starting with the Balfour demonstrations in front of the PM’s residence, Israel’s anarchists have worn down the population’s resistance to their lawbreaking, and that includes the police. So much so that when National Security Minister Ben Gvir attempts to pressure police to do their job – he is depicted as the troublemaker.

Here’s a crucial paragraph from Copsey’s and Merril’s work on Antifa’s very successful psychological manipulations: “While the willingness to use confrontational violence separates militant anti-fascism from non-militant forms, militant anti-fascists exercise restraint in their use of violence. This is significant. It clearly challenges simplistic associations with terrorism and the planning of terrorist acts and/or mass violence that threatens life.

“The claim that fascism is defined by an ultra-violent credo imposes a value-based, prefigurative boundary on militant anti-fascists in both their use and rhetorical representation of violence. Strategic concerns factor too, such as the risk that violent escalation will lead either to group isolation from the wider anti-fascist coalition or dissolution as a result of increasing state repression. Internal cultures of decision-making and recruitment structures function as further dynamics of restraint.”

The right does not have an effective way to match the anarchist warriors man-to-man. The Haredim taught them a lesson Wednesday night in Bnei Brak, but they too are not angry enough yet to bring out a hundred thousand protesters. The fact is, we are stronger, by far, we own the car and we must keep our eyes on the prize, keep our hands on the wheel, and our foot on the gas pedal. The first two reforms, the composition of the committee to elect judges, and barring the Supreme court from ruling on constitutional laws must be passed by the Knesset before the end of the winter session.

They maximize their limited numbers in the streets, we maximize our numbers in the ballot boxes.


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