By Alan Hart
The man now calling the shots for Israel’s Palestine policy is not Prime Minister Netanyahu but Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, who has declared and means that there are no circumstances in which he would ever agree to the creation of a Palestinian state.
Without the Jewish Home party’s participation Netanyahu would not have been able to construct a fragile and unstable coalition government with a majority of one in the Knesset. In other words it was Bennett who made it possible for Netanyahu to have a fourth term as prime minister and that gives him, Bennett, and the deluded and demented settlers he represents, a great deal of bargaining and blackmail power.
When Bennett presented his own plan for “managing” the Israel-Palestine conflict in 2012, he said, “I will do everything in my power to make sure they (the occupied and oppressed Palestinians) never have a state.”
In addition to pressing ahead with more and more illegal settlements, the essence of Bennett’s plan was the following.
* Israel annexes 62% of the occupied West Bank (Area C) and the Gaza Strip is transferred to Egypt.
* The remaining 38% of the occupied West Bank (Areas A and B) stays with the Palestinian Authority but under the security umbrella of the IDF and Israel’s other security services, this “to ensure quiet, suppress Palestinian terrorism and prevent Hamas from taking over the territory.”
* The Palestinians living in the annexed 62% will be offered Israeli citizenship or permanent residency status.
* Palestinians living outside the West Bank will not be allowed to move to it and there will be no connection between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
What the wheeling and dealing over seven weeks to form the latest coalition government tells us about the Zionist (not Jewish) state of Greater Israel was put into words by Ari Shavit in an opinion piece for Ha’aretz. His comments included the following.
Do we have a governance problem? We have a complete absence of governance. Is the administration weak? We have a vacuum, not an administration. Our political culture is sick and incapable of translating the popular will into a steady, functioning rule of the people that strives toward some horizon of hope… The situation of acute instability is appalling. The way things were run by the previous government and the way they’re run now – nothing can be done here… The way things have been run and are being run, it’s impossible to make peace or endure a war. It’s impossible to foment a social revolution, but also impossible to ensure economic growth. Our inferior political system has deteriorated even further, losing control.
Despite his recognition of the fact that control of Israel’s political system is now in the hands of Bennett and others who are at one with the settlers and their commitment to keeping most if not all of the occupied West Bank for ever, Shavit is not without some optimism for the future. The headline over his article was Israeli society isn’t extreme, so the center can still prevail.
The optimism reflected in that headline was based on Shavit’s analysis of how Israeli Jews had voted. He put it this way. “The unadulterated nationalist camp gained less than one-third of the vote, and the split ultra-Orthodox camp gained little more than one-tenth of the vote. So the majority in Israel apparently is still one that can be negotiated with. Maybe it’s still one with which one can build – or save – a country.”
The conclusion, he added, is clear. “Israel needs a sane, strong, worthy center like the air it breathes. Since Israeli society is not that extreme, it’s possible to establish a new center. Since Israel is already in crisis, it’s crucial to establish a new center.”
I agree 100% and then some with Shavit’s comment that Israel’s political culture is “sick”; but looking in from the outside I don’t share his optimism that if a new center was created it could succeed in generating majority support for peace on terms the Palestinians could accept with security for all.
Shavit may well be correct when he states that a majority of Israel’s Jews are not as extreme as Bennett and the others who are committed to keeping most if not all of the occupied West Bank for ever; but that is not the issue.
It is that most Israeli Jews, the vast majority of them, have been brainwashed by Zionist propaganda to believe a version of history about the making and sustaining of the conflict which is simply not true. And the consequence of this brainwashing is that the vast majority of Israel’s Jews have closed minds on the matter of justice for the Palestinians and are beyond reason.
The proof that this is so is in the fact that the vast majority of Israel’s Jews cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism and that this wrong must be righted if there is ever to be peace and security for all.
It follows that if a new political center for which Shavit is pleading was to be created, it would serve no purpose, change nothing, unless the policy it was advocating was constructed on an acknowledgement of the wrong done to the Palestinians by Zionism and the need for that wrong to be righted.
I can’t see that ever happening and my own conclusion is that change will not come, cannot come, from within Israel.
And that puts me in complete agreement with Mitchell Plitnick who concluded his latest article in the following way.
It has never been clearer that positive change in Israel is going to require some sort of meaningful action by the United States and/or Europe. If that does not come and it does not seem to be on the horizon, disaster looms.
As I have written and said on numerous occasions, the disaster waiting for its time to happen will most likely be in two phases – a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine followed by Holocaust II, my shorthand for another great turning against Jews everywhere. The latter will be the consequence of the transformation of the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism provoked by the Zionist state’s policies and actions into anti-Semitism.
Mitchell Plitnick and other Jewish critics of Israel’s policies and actions seem to believe that meaningful pressure by America and Europe would cause a majority of Israel’s Jews to open their minds to the need for peace on terms the Palestinians could accept. It might but it could also be counter-productive. How? By re-confirming most brainwashed Israelis in their belief that Zionism has always been correct in its assertion that the world hates Jews and everything and anything must therefore to be done to preserve Israel as a refuge of last resort for all Jews everywhere. And that, of course, would be a mandate for Israel’s leaders to tell the whole world to go to hell.
At the time of writing I see no reason for optimism. And that’s why I believe my headline for this article is appropriate.