the flag of israel

Image: Haley Black


The paradoxical use of Israeli symbols by the Brazilian right 

It has been seen quite frequently in recent times, in demonstrations attended by large contingents of cattle, which called for the “closing of the STF” or “military intervention”, to wave the flags of the United States, Ukraine and Israel.

The appearance of the star-and-striped flag needs no explanation, given the “sentimental education” of an entire generation imbecilized in childhood and adolescence through massive doses of rambos, bruce willis, chuck norris and other van dammes that accompanied ˝Toddy˝ from the ˝Sessão da Tarde˝ and who today, as an adult˝, goes shopping in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty in Havan, rides a jet ski and plays with a cart at the Beto Carrero Show.

The presence of the Ukrainian flag would in other times be unknown. Today, it is not difficult to imagine that it owes more to the Nazi-fascism of “heroes” like Stepan Bandera, responsible for the death of a million Jews in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus, during the so-called “Holocaust by bullets”, than to to the proud freedom of the Kuban and Crimean Cossacks, or to the revolutionary anarchism of the bat'ko Nestor Ivanovich Makhno.

The flag of Israel, on the other hand, fulfills two functions. One, linked to certain evangelical doctrines of American origin, known as ˝Christian Zionism˝, for which the restoration of the Tribe of Judah in Eretz Israel would be part of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies and one of the conditions (such as the fall of the Papacy and the construction of the Third Temple) of the Second Advent.

As for the Jews, contrary to classic anti-Semitism, for which they were the perfidious murderers of Christ, “restorationism” treats them with condescension, recognizing them as the chosen people of the Old Testament and recipients of the first covenant, ˝quasi-Christians ˝ who in due time will accept baptism and embrace revealed truth, thus paving the way for the Millennium.

Even more evident is the symbolic function of delimiting, from a white suprematist point of view and from what Edward Said called an “Orientalist perspective”, an imaginary border between civilization and barbarism, West and East, us and the others, where the others are the “ugly, dirty and evil”: Arabs, Africans, Asians, Muslims, blacks, yellows, refugees, terrorists and drug traffickers.

The ideological power of this symbology is such that, by lending so many meanings to the Israeli flag, it strips it of its primary meaning as a symbol of a homeland. Which is what Israel means to an Israeli. Not a bulwark, a fortress at the edge of the Tartar desert, defending the civilized world against alien invasion, but just a homeland, where you were born and where your parents were born.

As for a Brazilian, Brazil, even if it is not “above everything”, is a homeland: “a poor motherland, so distracted, subtracted, in dark transactions, by those same ones who kidnapped its colors to cover their own ignominy, proving the accuracy of George Bernard Shaw's much-quoted phrase: "Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels."

Because these uncultured and self-referential people, incapable of correctly identifying Israel on a map, who have never read a book by an Israeli writer, never watched an Israeli film, use the name and symbols of the state of Israel as a sign of their own ignorance, for hidden purposes, which have nothing to do with the millennial resilience and wisdom of the Israeli people, reaching the height of flanking, in their Zebu marches, the Star of David and symbols that refer to Nazism. The horror! The horror!

The herd does not know that the creation of modern Israel was due, to a great extent, to left-wing Zionism, of socialist affiliation, which had great participation in the movements of return to Palestine in the beginning of the last century (second and third aliyah), with the establishment of the first kibbutzim e meshavim. This socialist component has been present throughout Israel's history, informing strong trade unionism, strong cooperative agriculture and an equally strong social protection system, pillars of Israeli society regardless of whether they are on the right or left in government.

Nor does he know that Israel was born out of a war of national liberation undertaken, not against the Arabs, but against the British Empire, and with the help of the Soviet Union, the first country to recognize the new State. And that, although Israel has somehow become, in the context of the cold war, a client of the United States (like the revolutionary Kemalist Turkey after the death of Ataturk), much of the socialist element remained in it.

So much so that a good part of the Jews (refuseniks) who left the Soviet Union in the XNUMXs and XNUMXs chose not to remain in Israel and made their way to the United States. They found Israel “too similar” to the communist world.

Furthermore, Israel, unlike Turkey, never considered joining NATO, despite the wars that followed after independence. And although it had the material and financial support of the USA and Europe, it always fought its wars alone (except for the episodes of Suez in 1956, when it allied itself with France and England), never allowing the installation of military bases in its territory, just as it never accepted supporting wars and punitive expeditions such as the US attack on Iraq in 1991, the invasion of the same country in 2003 or the invasion of Libya in 2011.

Israel is a model welfare state. Its health system, universal, public and free, is one of the most efficient in the world. Education, also public and free, is one of the best in the world. The country is the third, after Canada and Japan, with the highest percentage of higher education graduates: 51% of the population between 25 and 64 years old, against 21% in Brazil. In 2014, 62% of students who completed high school entered university (48% in Cuba and 18% in Brazil in 2022). School attendance is compulsory from kindergarten, ages three to eighteen, and the average expected duration of school life is sixteen years. The literacy rate is 97,8%, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Education Index is 883 (Brazil's is 694, having increased by 100 points between 2002 and 2016; Cuba's is of 790).

In Israel there are no large estates. 93% of the land is owned by the state. The cooperative farming system, analogous to the collective farm Soviets, is still responsible for around 40% of agricultural production and 10% of industrial production in the country.

Israel's income inequality index (Gini) is 38,9, which, if it does not make the country one of the most equal in the world (Sweden has an index of 23), makes it incomparably less unequal than Brazil, eighth in the ranking of champions of inequality, with an index of 53,3 (below only that of South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, the Central African Republic, Suriname and Zambia).

The Women's Safety Index (WPS) is 844 (27th highest in the world), while Brazil's is 734 (80th in the world). The index of sexual inequality is the 26th. lowest, while Brazil's is 95th. Women occupy 23,5% of seats in parliament (Knesseth), against 15% in Brazil. Israel was the third country to have a female head of government (after Sri Lanka and India). Abortion has been legal since 1977, and practiced free of charge in public hospitals.

With regard to customs, an area so valued by the uncles in government today, zealous defenders of the values ​​of the “traditional Brazilian family” (such as the abuse of alcohol and other legal drugs, frequenting paid sex, violence against women and children and the exploitation of maids), Israel is not bad either.

The rights of sexual minorities are respected. Although there is no same-sex marriage (in Israel there is no civil marriage), the law recognizes civil unions the same rights as marriage, including for the purposes of succession and civil pension. Same-sex partners can adopt children, including through surrogacy contracts.

Last but not least, Israel legalized the recreational use of marijuana in private spaces in 2019, with the support of the right-wing Likud, the party of Benjamin Netanyahu, a friend of the Statesman. In 2017, the use and possession of small amounts ceased to be a crime, becoming only a misdemeanor, subject to a fine. A study carried out that same year found that 27% of Israelis between 18 and 65 years of age had consumed at least once in the last twelve months, a percentage higher than that of any other country (Iceland had 18%, and the USA 16% ). In Brazil, only 3% of adults are regular consumers of cannabis.

As you can see, Israel is everything its “defenders” do not want Brazil to be. For these “Christian Zionists” and champions of the “West”, what counts is the symbol, the paranoid delirium that only sees the small and warlike Israel/Sparta and its king David/Leonidas fighting with the hosts of Goliath/Xerxes, “ barbarian”, “oriental” and “terrorist”. They know nothing, nor do they want to know about how the people of Israel live on a day-to-day basis, organized in a prosperous, democratic, egalitarian and tolerant society.

No, gentlemen “bishops”. Israel does not need your support, which only embarrasses it. And it doesn't need your slot machine churches. Israelis do not need “shepherds” who sell them vials of “consecrated water from the Jordan”, anti-COVID ointments or miraculous bean seeds. They do not need the tackiness of your “Temples of Solomon”, built with the tithe of the blood and sweat of your poor “flock”. Nor do you need your television networks, spreading hatred and ignorance in the name of a God who never inhabited you.

Because, although it produces and exports large amounts of tropical fruits, Israel, unlike Brazil, is not a banana republic.

*José Eduardo Fernandes Giraudo is a diplomat.


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