This week’s Israeli elections were hard fought, divisive and for many observers yielded unexpected results: overwhelming victory for Benjamin Netanyahu and overwhelming defeat to peace prospects between Palestinians and Israelis.
Today, I want to thank Netanyahu for stating in public what many critics have long believed — that he’s no believer of a two-state solution or of Israeli-Arabs.
Thank you, Benjamin Netanyahu, for your truth-telling.
To understand what many observers have known about him one need only go back to 1996 when three Americans, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, along with others, authored a document for Benjamin Netanyahu entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”
“A Clean Break,” designed by neo-cons who would eventually become the architects and cheerleaders of aggression against Iraq, was a plan to reshape the Levant. It was a blueprint for regional destabilization, regime change (by force if necessary) and, critically for Netanyahu, the abandonment of the 1993 Oslo Accords and the eventual Israeli annexation of all Palestinian land occupied in the 1967 war.
Then, in 2001, in a secretly-recorded video that wasn’t released until 2010 when it was shown on Israeli TV channel 10, Netanyahu, speaking in Ofra, an illegal West Bank colony, boasted:
” … What were the Oslo accords? … I was asked … ‘Will you act according to them?’ … I interpret the accords in such a way that will enable me to stop this rush towards the 1967 borders… Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.” http://tinyurl.com/o3fmqws
In 2009, speaking at Bar Ilan University, Netanyahu appeared to be embracing a two-state solution, all while inserting a poison pill he knew no Palestinian or Arab would accept — the recognition of Israel by Palestinians of the “Jewish State of Israel” — a pill that would delegitimize over 20 percent of Israelis — and privileging Jews above non-Jews.
Netanyahu’s proposal would be equivalent to America proclaiming itself a Christian nation, privileging Christians above non-Christians.
Jordan and Egypt made peace with the “State of Israel.” In 1993, Yasser Arafat sent a letter to Prime Minister Rabin that included, “The PLO recognizes the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security… ”
“The State of Israel.”
In 2014, Netanyahu said during Operation Protective Edge that Israel had to make sure “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria,” and added, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
So, when he says, on Election Eve 2015, “I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel,” his words reflect his true feelings and his long-held opposition to a two-state solution.
When he says he constructed the Har Homa colony in Palestinian East Jerusalem to “stop Bethlehem from moving toward Jerusalem,” his words reflect his true feelings.
And when he cries out, in desperation and fear-mongering, that Israel’s Arab citizens are flocking to the polls in droves, his words reflect his true feelings.
The Netanyahu whose plans for Palestinians are reducible to little more than enhanced Bantustans finally spoke the truth for which he’s today’s most aggressive standard bearer: “Eretz Israel.”
Let’s not be deceived: Netanyahu’s not alone in believing that Eretz Israel can be reclaimed over the bodies and aspirations of the Palestinian people, He has company in his right-wing.
Ben-Gurion wrote, after the 1947 UN partition vote: “… there was joy mixed with sadness: joy that the nations at last acknowledged that we are a nation with a state, and sadness that we lost half of the country, Judea and Samaria, and, in addition, that we would have (in our state) 400,000 Arabs.”
Menachem Begin said: ” … Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever.”
In 1967, Yigal Allon wrote: “… we must avoid the historic mistake of the War of Independence … and MUST NOT cease fighting until we achieve total victory, the territorial fulfillment of the Land of Israel.”
Historians, Palestinians, the international community know the truth that many Americans refuse to acknowledge: that there is a significant community in Israel, not limited to the over 500,000 colonists living within Palestinian territory, who believe not only that the land is theirs but that might makes right — and that Netanyahu is their might.
Today, between East Jerusalem and the West Bank there are over 2.500,000 million residents of voting age who have no franchise. Israel steals their land and controls their every movement but they have no voice on how they’re governed, while Israelis squatting on Palestinian land can vote — and determine how the Palestinians whose land they’ve appropriated will be governed.
To occupied Palestinians Netanyahu is the face of the systematic denial of their national aspirations — the face of a colonial enterprise that has dehumanized their existence.
Today, I believe any Palestinian would be justified in writing, as MLK did from his narrow jail cell in Birmingham, “There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience…”
It’s time to reject being dragged into an abyss of injustice — to reject being dragged into a bleakness of corroding despair.
By rejecting negotiation and a two-state solution, Netanyahu appears to have chosen to honor the idolatry of land to the exclusion of peace. In his idolatry and assertion of an Exceptionalism based upon the submission of another people to his will Israel risks becoming an outcast among nations —perceived not as a moral seeker of justice and peace but as a colonial power uncaring of its subjects.
Since 1948 Israel has fought innumerable conflicts, both beyond and within its borders — all without achieving peace and security. Recognizing that Palestinians cannot achieve statehood without Israel giving it to them, and recognizing that Israel cannot achieve security without Palestinians giving it to them, it’s time to try something new — something radical.
Like Radical Hospitality: an embrace of Jews, Christians and Muslims – humanists and secularists – living together in justice and peace in a land called Holy.
This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.