|Turkish fans assaulting a Mac. Haifa player during a game between the Israeli side and the French club Lille.|
On pro-Palestinian image aggregator site Palestine Poster Project supporters of Gaza have gathered images of worldwide artwork in favour of the Palestinian cause. Among the images is the one below, which states in Italian that "Every Palestinian is a comrade, SAME ENEMY, SAME BARRICADE" (Barricata may also mean side in Italian). The project makes the claim that the Nordic cross on the lower right side of the image is meant to allude to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as "fascist", because it is a logo associated with the Italian neo-fascist Fuorza Nova political party as well as other likeminded movements throughout Europe. But what does it mean to be a fascist, and who bears the right to call someone else one? And is the Poster Project being truthful about this piece of art, or could it be misrepresenting the nature of the artwork.
|Poster that Palestine Poster Project claims condemns Israel's fascist policies. In reality it is a Fuora Nuova poster in support of Palestine.|
But first, a note on fascism . . .
Since the end of WWII, the word fascism has become a common label used by all parties in any conflict to discredit the other side. Just one example that is close to home was the Vietnam War, where it was common for the North Vietnamese and American war opponents alike to call the US Military fascist due to the heavy civilian casualties of war in that nation. Domestic political debates become completely hostile and vicious when each side accuses the other of being a fascist, so that every politician from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama and every cause from pro-life activism to universal health care, has been framed as a fascist idea. The War on Terror has been justified partially because of the threat of "Islamofascism".
What is the strictest definition of fascism? The Fascist Party was the Italian movement that stabilized Italy during the economic turmoil following World War I and reorganized its state under the direction of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini focused the symbolism of the state around him and an Italian identity dating back to the Roman Empire. Despite Mussolini's complete mismanagement of Italy's effort in the Second World War, there remain numerous Italians who to one degree or another see his regime as having saved Italy from communism, which is indeed one of the few lasting goals that it did achieve.
Why call someone a "fascist"?
Beyond the association with Mussolini, the implication of being fascist is that someone lacks even the most basic consideration for the weaker parts of society, such that they are willing to perpetrate the most immoral acts in order to achieve their vision of the world. More specifically, those who make the accusation usually do not refer to the original fascist state, Italy, but rather to the more emotionally upsetting template of Germany. This is because the German government's policies included policies of genocide and forced relocation against its enemy populations: Jews, Gypsies, political enemies, and Slavs. Yet in reality fascism in the most literal sense refers to belief in a one-party state, a corporate (state-administered) approach to economics, and nationalism. Mass murder is linked to fascism mostly due to events associated with it, and not its actual ideas.
Does this mean that fascism has lost its true definition, because it is such a useful accusation to make even in situations where the target of "fascist" does not believe in corporatism, one-party government, or other stated goals of fascism? In an ironic way, this question is solved because there have been since after WWII individuals and organizations that proudly believe in fascism and refute any accusations against its leaders during the war. In Europe, groups like Golden Dawn (Greece) and National Front (France) have major public support while simultaneously claiming that the Holocaust is a lie concocted by Zionists, Jews or the USA. In Italy Forza Nuova (New Force) is the largest party that remains faithful to the original fascist vision of Mussolini and the post-war ideologue Julius Evola.
Fascism and the Arab-Israeli wars
To document the involvement of fascist or associated far-right people with the Arab grievances against Israel would take an article in and of itself. The Grand Mufti of Mandatory Palestine and Arab nationalists in Iraq and Egypt were directly allied to Germany and Italy during WWII, and following the war Arab states sheltered former officials of the German regime. The neo-fascist and neo-nazi movements throughout the west have with almost every opportunity actively dedicated their support to the Arab cause as shown by the following links to ARYANISM and the National Socialist Movement. The theory that the Holocaust was a fabrication meant to justify the founding of Israel and American support for it is a viewpoint that reinforces the positions of both European ultra-nationalists and Palestinians.
Fascism for Gaza
And here is where we get to THE POINT. The Palestine Poster Project is one of many small web pages that seeks to portray the current Israeli offensive against Gaza as a fascist programme. It is ironic that they caption the Italian photo with this explanation:
"Curator's note: The symbol depicted in this poster is the fascist version of the Celtic cross used by the ultra-nationalist Forza Nuova party of Italy
There's no more need to beat around the bush: This caption is a lie from the foundation to the roof. The poster was in itself produced and distributed by Forza Nuova. It is only one of the materials that this group of proud and unashamed fascists has disseminated in order to express its support for the Palestinian Arab people. Just take for example this video produced by the group during 2009's Operation Cast Lead, a previous round of Israel-Gaza war.
The Palestine Poster Project has only one reason to depict this small detail in the way that it has: Their cause is not served by being seen to draw support from a group that is openly fascist. They would rather declare their enemy fascist than acknowledge that their cause is a source of validation for the xenophobic and anti-Jewish views of Italians and other Europeans. This is not meant to disparage the Italian public in general because if they were supporting the views of the Fuorza Nuova it wouldn't be a party that fails on every occasion to obtain representation in the two houses of parliament in Rome.
Although fascism is not an illegal ideology, the stigma attached to it makes any association with it negative. Therefore, the Poster Project found it more suitable to their agenda to depict this work of propaganda as a condemnation of fascism rather than an originally produced fascist poster.
If this seems to you the reader as dishonest, you might want to distribute this breakdown to your social circle through Facebook or email. It is unlikely that a clearly impartial body like the Palestine Poster Project will issue a retraction, but the awareness caused by this incident may harm the credibility of this source among news readers. This issue will nevertheless be brought to their attention, and any support from you the reader would obviously be welcome.