Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerCourtesy
Perhaps no display has been more despicable than the recent Israel Channel 12 Eretz Nehederetcomic sketch” comparing Ben Gvir to Adolf Hitler.

In his 1967 classic comedy, “The Producers,” Mel Brooks concocted a clever plot about a cheesy (Jewish) producer of Broadway plays, Max Bialystock (played by Zero Mostel), who conspires with his (Jewish) accountant, Leo Bloom (played by Gene Wilder), to run off with a small fortune generated by their fraudulent scheme. Their idea is to raise significant funds from outside investors to finance a new Broadway musical — story, book, and libretto not yet decided — with the usual assurances that investors will be paid significant dividends from the play’s ultimate profits. As in all such Broadway investments, of course, those who put up the cash stand to lose everything if the play really flops really badly really quickly. That is how investing works, whether on Broadway, on Wall Street, or on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

The fraud here is that Bialystock intends for the musical to be so horribly bad and distasteful that it definitely will flop on its first night. In that way, not all the invested money will have been consumed yet because forthcoming weeks of salaries and rentals will be avoided. However, investors will assume all their money has been lost, so presumably will not ask for refunds of what is left. All that remaining invested cash not yet consumed secretly will remain with Bialystock and Bloom illegally. They merely have to find the worst possible play or musical ever written to guarantee an opening-night cancellation.

After scouring dozens of scripts and scores of scores, they believe they have found their flop: “Springtime for Hitler,” a former Nazi war criminal’s ode to Adolf Hitler. That will play just great in Jewish New York and on Broadway, won’t it? It’s a guaranteed flop. And it’s centerpiece is an insanely distasteful number celebrating Hitler and Nazi Germany. (By the way, it is a shame that today’s cancel-culture climate of political correctness, trigger warnings, and safe spaces would make Brooks films like “Blazing Saddles” and “The Producers” impossible to produce.)

Anyway, bottom line: They hire the worst possible actor to play Hitler, and he is so bad and so distasteful that he actually — inadvertently — turns the grotesque production into a comedy mocking Hitler. The audience, which initially was repulsed by the first act, reverses itself, cheers the play’s ridiculous absurdity, and one comments that it will run on Broadway forever.

Enough about the movie.

My guess is that huge swaths of the mainstream Israeli public in 2022 do not know the story line of a movie that is more than half a century old, even though it was revived in 2001 as a Broadway musical and was remade in 2005. But the y’fei nefesh — Israel’s Leftist quasi-intellectual “beautiful people” of Tel Aviv and such — would know it. And Channel 12’s y’fei nefesh decided that it would be hysterically funny to do a skit on their Leftist show Eretz Nehederet portraying Itamar Ben Gvir as an Adolf Hitler type, with the classic Otzma Yehudit/JDL star-and-fist logo replacing the Nazis’ swastika.

That is how the Left sees Ben Gvir — as akin with Hitler. And it is one important reason that I hope Ben Gvir, Betzalel Smotrich, and the Religious Zionism party get your vote on November 1.

Itamar Ben Gvir is a good guy. He has evolved over the years, as many others have, from a rough-around-the-edges street radical to a law-abiding attorney.

In the world of Leftist political character assassination — their surrogate alternative to the more difficult challenge of debating ideas — a key element is digging up dirt on an opponent, with no statute of limitations on how far back one digs. Even behavior that is decades in the past is deemed fair to stigmatize. So hold a mature and well spoken attorney responsible for non-felonious political street-demonstration activity that got him arrested decades ago.

Indeed, Ben Gurion called Ze’ev Jabotinsky “Vladimir Hitler” and deemed Menachem Begin a terrorist for commanding the Irgun. Only when Begin changed course and did the Left’s bidding with Anwar Sadat did the Left offer him a temporary reprieve, which they annulled in 1982 during the war in Lebanon. Tragically, they ultimately destroyed the man.

Like Itamar Ben Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich engaged in some rough-around-the-edges political theater some years ago. However, he has grown and matured in public life, served as a fine and competent government cabinet minister, and proven a worthy successor to those disappointments like Naftali Bennett who almost destroyed the religious Zionist political presence in the Knesset by pursuing personal ambitions.

The Left loves to compare Jewish nationalist concerns about Arab terror and treason to Hitler-Eichmann-Goehring hatred of Jews.

The comparison is despicable. Let us understand why.

Hitler hated Jews because they were Jews. Using the Reform Judaism definition, Hitler identified even non-Jews as “Jewish” if they had any “Jewish blood” making them “mischlinges” (mongrels) even dating back to one Jewish paternal grandparent. Even if a Jew sought to swear allegiance to Hitler and Nazism, as did the pitiful Max Naumann, the founder of Verband nationaldeutscher Juden (League of National German Jews), which called for the elimination of Jewish ethnic identity, such Jews were unacceptable and had to be eliminated. The Gestapo dissolved Naumann’s pathetic group in 1935.

In time, Hitler had political opponents murdered and German Nazis had Jews rounded up, first into ghettoes and then into death camps, where Jews were enslaved, tortured, murdered, stripped of gold fillings in their teeth, or gassed and cremated. That is to whom Israel’s y’fei nefesh compare the likes of Itamar Ben Gvir and other Jewish nationalists.

In truth, by contrast, Jews and Judaism harbor no particular ill will towards Arabs and Islam. Jews got along fine with Arab Muslims through many centuries in the Middle Ages when both were far more concerned with the hateful threats posed by the Catholic church and such of its cruelties like the Inquisition. If Arab Muslims would be mostly friendly towards Jews and Israel today, as are the countries who have joined the Abraham Accords, we Jews would get along fine with them, even as many deeply Zionist American Jews get along fine with many American Muslims at work and at leisure. Indeed, on November 8, Zionists in Pennsylvania will be voting overwhelmingly for a Muslim, Dr. Mehmet Oz, to be their next United States Senator — and for good reason: because he is a friend.

The problem, or shall we say one of the major problems, in the Mideast is that too many Arabs, too many Muslims, for too many decades have been spoon-feeding their children a pathological hatred for Jews that is so intensely severe that those kids learn from their school books to hate Jews and learn in summer camps to murder Jews. They then grow up with that pathological hate. To reinforce that animus, their leaders keep them cooped up in so-called “refugee camps” populated by millions of non-refugees who are in fact living in the very “Palestine” from which they supposedly are expelled.

Consider: 1,221,110 registered “Palestinian” “refugees” live in eight “refugee camps” like Rafah and Khan Yunis in Gaza (“Palestine”), and another 741,409 registered “Palestinian Arab” “refugees” live in 19 official and four unofficial “refugee camps” like “Jenin Refugee Camp” in “West Bank Palestine.” They grow up hating Jews, with mothers hoping their children will be killed as “shahids” (martyrs) in the act of murdering Jews. That hatred also extends to too many Arabs in places that were part of Israel even before 1967. Last year’s Arab anti-Jewish riots in Israeli so-called “mixed cities” like Jaffa, Acre, and Lod brought home the reality that many Israeli Arabs seek to destroy Israel. Jews in 1930’s Germany, by contrast, were patriotic Germans who deemed themselves interwoven inextricably into German society.

Sensibly, Israel has built a wall along its current border with Arab Judea-Samaria (the “Palestine Authority”) to regulate Arab entry into Israel. That wall was not Ben Gvir’s doing or even idea. Yes, Ben Gvir advocates expelling from Israel any Arab Muslims who are traitors and who conspire to kill Jews and destroy Israel. Well, what is controversial about that? They should be expelled. And those who are convicted of murdering Jews for political reasons should be executed promptly after losing their appeals. What makes them better than Eichmann or worthy of living to murder more Jews another day after being released in some insanely unbalanced “prisoner exchange” in which Israel releases 1,150 Arab terrorists in return for the return of three Israelis?

If the insanity of five Israeli national elections since April 2019 has accomplished anything constructive, it is this:

1. The country has seen that the sky will not fall if it is led by someone other than Binyamin Netanyahu.

2. It is clear that, at least for now, Netanyahu remains best qualified to serve as Prime Minister.

3. Power-sharing agreements almost never work. Either a Netanyahu, eager to prevent a transition to a Benny Gantz, maneuvers a budget stalemate as his time runs out. Or a Yair Lapid abuses his brief caretaker role to tell the United Nations that the people of Israel support a “two-state solution” (an outright lie) and to negotiate a dubious maritime agreement with Lebanon that will strengthen Hezbollah and then denies the Knesset the right to vote on it.

4. Gideon Sa’ar, who for years was seen within Likud as a very viable conservative successor someday to Netanyahu, has proven to be a LINO — Likud in Name Only — (i) appointing a blend of judges that ruined the golden opportunity to transition Israel’s courts, including its Supreme Court, decidedly to the right; (ii) naming an attorney-general whom no conservative would have named; and (iii) now aligning with moderately Left Benny Gantz to try making him next Prime Minister of Israel.

5. Zev Elkin and others with Sa’ar have been revealed as LINOs, too.

6. Bennett’s personal ambition, always recognized and suspected, has been revealed to have no ideological boundaries, resulting in his withdrawal from Knesset politics for now — and taking down Ayelet Shaked with him.

7. Matan Kahana, an Orthodox lawmaker, has been revealed to be an intensely bitter opponent of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, to be other than the “Great White Hope” to bolster the cause of religious Zionism, and indeed has been revealed as a serious danger to protecting critical aspects of Jewish law such as core standards for conversion.

8. The recent experiment with Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am party has demonstrated it is impossible to have an Arab party in an Israeli governing coalition for any extended period of time.

9. Bezalel Smotrich has been revealed to be a very competent and qualified government official, capable of standing his ground.

10. Itamar Ben Gvir has gained increasing legitimacy through the litany of elections, proving to be a bona fide political figure, capable of serving properly in the Knesset, whose presence in the government will not be the nightmare that the Left insanely predicts it will be.

On November 1 the Likud will emerge again as Israel’s largest party, and the right-wing coalition will amount to somewhere between 59 and 62 seats. In a world of LINOs, outside — and inside — Likud, a strong vote turnout for the Religious Zionism party will be the best way to keep Likud honest. If that right-wing religious coalition does achieve 60 seats, look for Elkin to find a way back in. He wants to be Israel’s continuing sidekick, getting to accompany prime ministers as official interpreter at Moscow meetings with Vladimir Putin, and whatever conscience he has must be gnawing at him as he sees that Sa’ar has led him from a right-wing pro-religious “Never Bibi” platform into a Benny Gantz party.